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A brand new banjo player who plays mostly by ear. That's me. So I bought this book because Wayne sounded like a go- with-the-flow kind of player.
This is a fun book and is really great for learning to pick melodies and helping you learn chords and getting to know where the strings are. Wayne writes with a very conversational tone that is fun and low- stress.
However when it comes to adding in rolls you're kind of left on your own. He shows them but when it comes to adding them in you have nothing to follow. Which is probably the idea, because it seems there are a gazillion ways to play around notes, with a banjo, and everyone has their own favorites. Wayne wants you to enjoy mixing up rolls.
For someone who has difficulty reading music I'm surprised I don't love this book more, but at this stage in my banjo playing (about a month) I want to be led by the nose through a range of tunes til I can get it all down.
The book is spiral bound so it lays flat. The print is easy to read and the music itself is written large and in Tab. The layout is so the music is on the left hand page, and instructions are on the right. So you see all you need at once.
His concept takes you from tunes at their bare bones, and then you dress them up with increasingly complex rolls as your skill develops. It's a very good way to learn, you can play the whole book at any level which gives you a fuller practise than memorizing.one.piece.at.a.time. However for myself at this moment I wish he had at least some pieces written out with the rolls, in tab, so I knew how the patterns fit.
Also the pieces are old traditional bluegrass songs, most of which I never knew existed and most are....well, not what I intend to be playing, shall I say.
A good book to use. I wouldn't make it your only book to learn from but definitely worthwhile.
Its very simple and an easy study. Almost too simple. You can get simple tabs online for free but you cant get (online) Wayne's humor and basic instruction. His basic concept is: Learn to play these simple notes, when you get it down pat add a pinch right here and a roll right there. At first glance one might be thinking "I paid for this?" but it actually does work. If you can learn to play 5 to 10 measures bare (and you WILL, it takes time and repetition) THEN learn to add a few rolls and drones to it, the end result is pretty darn neat. Guess what? You just learned a song! Albeit an old outdated song that almost no one will know.... BUT they (your "audience") WILL be impressed. (That's the time for you to get smug about it too) As far as the Kindle version, it was 7 bucks well spent for me. No regrets.
Great product. In great condition and packaged very well. Cd included just has the sound of notes played to listen and learn. It does not have a live tutorial of an actual person showing you how to play the banjo.
This is a great book too. really cute has some history about the people who made up the music for the Banjo. price is good too for my first Banjo book good explanation on all parts of the book. Great helper.
This was the first bluegrass book that I got when I started playing/teaching myself the 5-string banjo about 2 months ago. I really liked it as a beginner because the first levels that the author presents ("Ice Cold", "Cool", and "Warm" licks) are easy to get into while also playing at a reasonably fast pace so that other people can tell what tune you're aiming for. In the Warm Licks level, the author moves from just playing melody notes, drones on the first string with eighth notes, and pinches, to using a "two-finger roll" that have not seen in other bluegrass banjo books that I've used. From what I've read, this is closer to an Old Time two-finger thumb lead style than Bluegrass. It sounds like it has two drone strings and is very haunting and modal-sounding. However, from there it was actually kind of difficult (for me at least) to start moving into rolls like the forward, backward, and foggy mountain rolls that do not use the thumb for the melody note. I would suggest practicing some of these rolls early on so that they don't feel and sound alien once you start using them. Also, if you can, practice the C, D7 and F chords early on rather than only playing melody notes, it'll make the transition to chords easier.
Pros of this book: -Like others have said, it gets you to think for yourself in terms of arrangements -It's easy to find the melody when only the melody is tabbed out -You can get to higher speeds fairly rapidly -The melodies are tabbed out in a way that makes them easy to learn quickly once you've gotten a few down, so you can learn a bunch of songs quickly. -It's really good for complete ignoramuses! -Once you start learning more complex techniques elsewhere, it's a good book to revisit.
Cons: -There's a tradeoff between learning a lot of songs easily, and learning techniques. Without the latter, you can end up getting tired of hearing the actual songs because playing a bunch of songs in the same key and style starts to sound the same after a while. -Everything is played "down the neck". If you want to start exploring up the neck like a lot of BG songs do, you have to get another book. -Sometimes it wouldn't hurt to see what a more complex tab would look like, at least for a section. -It's hard to know what book to use next. I emailed the author after, and he didn't recommend his older bluegrass book after this one, so I had to look for other recommendations on where to go next.
If you get this book, I would recommend using it at the same time as another beginnging BG book if you want to get used to reading fully-tabbed out songs, play up the neck, or use more licks with pull-offs, hammer-ons, and slides. I recommend
Mel Bay's You Can Teach Yourself Banjo
by Janet Davis and I've heard her other books are good for elaborating on a melody, so you can revisit Wayne Erbsen's book again.
I would also recommend to try fingerpicks from the beginning, rather than waiting, because they feel and sound very different than playing with bare fingers.
I really enjoyed the style of this instruction book. It's a simple and structured approach that gets you playing quick. I've played guitar for years which no doubt helps a lot with learning a new stringed instrument but I enjoyed the style and the clear love for the instrument, traditions and music.