View Full Version : Banjo method books? (for any style)

Mike Baker
May-04-2016, 5:07am
I came across a reference to Frank Converse's mid-nineteenth century method books the other day, and then noticed that some of them are still in print (http://www.banjocafe.net/forum/showthread.php?693-Frank-Converse-s-Banjo-Without-a-Master). Got me thinking about the myriad method books there are for banjo. When I first picked up the banjo I used Patrick Costello's The How and the Tao of Old Time Banjo and Old Woodchuck's Rocket Science Banjo. I also have Muller and Koehler's Mel Bay book, Frailing the 5-String Banjo. When I dabbled in Scruggs style I did not use any books, but I know there are many titles for this and for other styles. What are your favorites? I say 'for any style' in the thread title because I know lots of players play more than one style and beginners often don't even know which style they want to learn.

Jeff Hildreth
May-04-2016, 5:04pm
The Following:

"Straight Ahead Jazz", Pat Cloud................... Mel Bay
"Melodic Clawhammer Banjo, Ken Perlman...... Centerstream
"Clawhammer Style Banjo" , Ken Perlman............. Centerstream
"Mel Bay's Complete Clawhammer Banjo Book ", Lisa Schmitz and Alec Slater.......... Mel Bay
"The Complete 5-String Banjo Player", Tony Trishka......................Mel Bay
"Splitting The Licks", Janet Davis................. Mel Bay

May-04-2016, 5:06pm
I'd have to say for Bluegrass it's Earls book. When I started I was pretty much on my own, just me and Earl's book with the LP, remember those ?


Mike Baker
May-04-2016, 6:51pm
Yep, I don't play much Scruggs style right now, but I've got to get Earl's book.

Jeff Hildreth
May-05-2016, 8:31am
Earl's book was the first one I got many moons ago.

Jim Pankey
May-05-2016, 10:44am
These six were hugely important to me while I was learning... probably explains a lot. :)


Jun-06-2016, 12:01am
Jack Hatfield's books are great!

Jun-06-2016, 5:44pm
I play Scruggs Style, for me its been:
Earls book
Janet Davis Back Up Banjo ( Mel Bay)

Jun-12-2016, 1:14am
I've used Dan Levenson's "Clawhammer Banjo from scratch".
I have an older version that came with CD's, and I have the DVD with it also. Always found it easy to follow and understand.

Wife brought home the "How and Tao of clawhammer banjo" but I have not read it yet.


Jul-29-2016, 2:48pm
Wayne Erbsen's "Complete Ignoramous" books for banjo and mandolin. Very fun,easy to understand,and you learn the history of the tunes. Dan Levenson's tune books in the old time style for banjo & mandolin as well. (I know tunebooks aren't method books but felt compelled to share!

Martin Ohrt
Jul-30-2016, 4:17am
I like Pete Wernick's "Bluegrass Banjo" (Oak Publications). However, I always failed to learn to play Scruggs style...
For Clawhammer, I used youtube... Pat & Patrick Costello, Josh Turknett.

Grizzly Adams
Nov-08-2016, 11:00am
Pete Seeger's, "How To Play The 5 String Banjo." The bible of basics, IMHO.