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This is probably the best little book you can ever buy, if you want to learn the basics of how to understand and play a 5 string banjo. I have read it from cover to cover many times and I have learnt something new every time I read it. As a complete novice it has put me on the right path to learn and play this wonderful instrument.
It takes you through the anatomy of a 5 string banjo, how to change strings, how to tune it, how to hold it, and more importantly how to learn to play it. When you have followed this book, you will be able to play songs using basic chords You will be able to read and understand how banjo music is written. You will learn to play rolls which are the building blocks of bluegrass banjo music. I cannot recommend this book more highly. The free tutorial CD that comes with this book is outstanding.
If you're 100% fresh to playing a banjo, or have never played a guitar, then the Absolute Beginners Banjo book is a great place to begin. It starts off introducing the banjo to you, naming the various parts and talks a bit about tuning. It then moves on by teaching you your first chords with some classic Bluegrass songs to learn. The accompanying CD is helpful to hear the examples in the book and also provides backing tracks for you to play along to of each of the various songs. Obviously the 5-string banjo is not all about strumming a few chords, so the book quickly moves on to teaching a few classic finger picking styles. It's very easy to follow with clear illustrations and tips on techniques.
If you play another stringed instrument such as a guitar, then you may find the first half of the book a bit too basic. I already play guitar so for me I jumped well over half, and being a short book there wasn't much left for me to get from it. But then it is an ABSOLUTE beginners book and with that in mind, it;s an excellent and friendly place to start.
This is useful for absolute beginners. However, if you've ever picked up a musical instrument of any kind before, this probably goes back too far. I have messed around with some other instruments, so this was not very helpful to me. Not knocking the book, but wasn't right for me.
After trying a number of beginners DVDs. Etc without much success I decided it would do no harm to try this book/CD.it arrived very quickly and within the first few days I was already feeling more confident in handling my banjo. Like all things practice is the answer but this book gives you some sound advise as does the CD. Would highly recommend it