The Doc Stock Banjo Method
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 100 03:39:41 -0800
Subject: The Doc Stock Banjo Method
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Forwarded-by: Kevin Johnsrude <email@example.com>
The Doc Stock Banjo Method
or Any jerk can play the banjo, so why not you, too?
by Jim Rosenstock
Lesson 1: Beat It!
The most common mistake of the beginning banjo player is to play too gently.
True, musical instruments require great care and special handling, but
banjos should not be confused with these. There are three basic licks that
are used in playing the banjo: the hit (abbreviated h in tablature), the
harder hit (H), and the beat (B). Learn these three licks, and soon you'll
be able to play anything! Remember -- Hit 'em again, hit 'em again, harder,
Lesson 2: Stage Presence
A dignified stage presence will do more than anything else to create the
impression that you are a serious, professional musician. This is to be
avoided at all costs--you have a reputation to maintain, after all! While
playing on stage, you should: (1) slouch, (2) drool, (3) pick nose, (4) bump
fiddler, (5) cross eyes, (6) pour beer on self, and/or (7) stare off into
space. The more you can do at once, the better.
Lesson 3: Tuning your banjo
Musicians make a very big deal about "getting in tune." Fortunately, you're
a banjo player, and therefore need not be so hung up. There are three basic
ways to tune a banjo:
(1) With a tuning fork: Tap the fork on a hard surface. Listen to the clear
bell-like tone. Make sure none of your strings duplicate this tone.
(2) With an electric tuner: Tap the tuner on a hard surface. Continue as
with method (1).
(3) With a fiddle: Tap the fiddle on a hard surface. Continue as above.
Lesson 4: Tunes and Tablature
It's a well-kept secret that there are really only four tunes in old-time
music: the G Tune, the A Tune, the D Tune, and the C Tune. It's an even
better-kept secret that these four tunes sound exactly the same. Tablature
is a simplified form of musical notation used by musicians to preserve music
on paper. Avoid all tablature--you will get nowhere as a banjo player by
Lesson 5: Drugs, FastFret(tm), pizza, strawberry pie, & Banjo Playing
Just say, "Why not?"
Lesson 6: Playing with Musicians
Playing with musicians is always scary for the beginning banjo player. You
should not be intimidated, though, because musicians like to have a banjo
player or two around. Even the most mediocre group of musicians will sound
great by contrast when a banjo player is added. So get in there and start
Lesson 7: Banjo Paraphernalia
A capo allows the banjo player, once out of tune in one key, to quickly be
out of tune in any other key.
A case protects your banjo from abuse, except when it is being played. This
is really unimportant, but where else can you put all your cool bumper
A dog will follow a banjo player around and keep everyone uncertain as to
which is responsible for the odor.
Beer is the experienced banjo player's favorite liquid to spill on the dance
floor, dancers, and/or musicians. Sometimes it is filtered through the
Lesson 8: Name That Tune
As mentioned previously, there are only four tunes, and they all sound the
same. It is definitely uncool, however, to let on in public that you know
this, so here's a list of titles for The Tune: Turkey in the Straw, Bug in
the Taters, Bonaparte Crossing the Turnpike, Fire on the Mountain, Billy in
the Lowground, Drugs in the Urine Sample, Christ on a Crutch, Monkey in the
Dog Cart, Logs in the Bedpan, Ducks in the Millpond, Pigeon on a Gate Post,
Water on the Knee.
Lesson 9: Three Myths Dispelled
Myth Number 1: It takes hard work and talent to play the banjo.
Fact: The only talent most banjo players have is a talent for avoiding
Myth Number 2: You can make good money playing the banjo.
Fact: People will frequently pay you much better money to stop.
Myth Number 3: Your banjo will make you friends wherever you go.
Fact: This is only true if you never go anywhere.
Lesson 10: The Universal Banjo Tune, in tablature
Tab key: h=hit it! H=hit it harder! B=beat it!
This article was reprinted from the February 1990 issue of The Daily Clog,
Julie Mangin, editor. 12 issues for $8.00. 95 East Wayne Avenue, Apartment
312 Silver Spring MD 20901; (301) 495-0082.
© 2000 Peter Langston