View Full Version : Tips for a complete Beginner?

Jennifer Bottom
Nov-08-2016, 9:00am

So I just got my first Banjo (A second hand blue Moon Tennor) and don't really have a clue where to start. I've been playing OM for a few months, so I'm assuming that I can hold the Banjo in a similar wayhis correct?

I should also point out that I'm visually impaired, so haven't actually been able to watch what anyone else does.

Any tips for getting started playing Irish trad?

So far I've not really been able to get in to tunes on the OM, as I mainly use it for singing.

Hoping to have more success with using the Banjo for tunes though.

Any advice appreciated.


Martin Ohrt
Nov-08-2016, 4:23pm
Hi Jen, and welcome to the Cafe!
I assume that your OM sits on your right leg? At least, thats the way I hold the mandolin and the OM, and that's also the way many people hold their banjos. However, I never hold banjos like that! I have them sitting in my lap - between the legs, with my legs closed together. And, BTW, this is how some people hold their mandolins and OM.
To cut a long story short: I'd say that you can hold your banjo as you please...

Then, how to get your playing started? If you can read sheet music, just grab a tunebook and try to play some music. If not, tabulature is very useful! There are Irish trad (ITM) tunebooks that offer standard notation as well as tab.
But be aware that tab is specific for one tuning! If your Banjo is tuned in "standard tenor" CGDA, everything will come out a fifth lower if you use the same fingering as on the OM - which doesn't really matter as long as you're on your own.
Of course, if you use "irish tuning" GDAE (like OM), you can just play anything written down for mandolin or OM, and it will come out "right".

I hope this helps... Feel free to ask further questions ;)


Nov-08-2016, 4:54pm
Two good books for learning Irish Tenor Banjo:

(1) Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor Volume I + II (http://www.endascahill.com/the-tutors.html)
(2) "Absolute Beginners Irish Tenor Banjo" by Eamonn Coyne (http://eamonncoyne.com/absolute-beginners-irish-tenor-banjo/)

Jennifer Bottom
Nov-09-2016, 9:22am
Thanks for the suggestions so far.

I can't read sheet music, due to my lack of vision, and I never bothered to learn Braille Music, so learn by ear.

I've tuned my Banjo GDAE, so I can use the same fingerring I use for the OM.

I've looked at a few on-line resources.

Are there any that people would recommend, free or paid?

Idealy I am looking for something where the instructor describes what they are doing in some detail, so I can get something from it.

I may also consider taking a couple of lessons, as I wouldn't mind someone taking a look at my left hand technique in particular.

I am from Berkshire UK. If anyone has any recommendations for teachers in and around that area, or good on-line lessons, I would be very pleased to hear them.


Jan-06-2017, 5:29pm
What is an "OM" please? I've carried out a search here and I've also Googled the term, but I'm none the wiser!

Jan-07-2017, 8:38am
OM = Octave Mandolin. Sometimes also called a celtic bouzouki.