BANJO…what am I thinking?
So a couple of weeks ago I paid a visit to my old friend Frog who was recuperating from back surgery and driving his wife crazy. I really went to give his wife a break as Frog was getting even crankier than me. While I was visiting, Frog pulled out an old beat up banjo. Frog played banjo once upon a time. He was pretty good too, laying down some nice bluegrass licks until he cut off just a small bit of his banjo fingering fingertips with a table saw. Frog was pretty good with a banjo, carpentry…not so much.
Anyway, Frog now is a piper. He plays the bagpipes at various functions, mostly weddings and funerals and also gives lessons. One of his students gave him the old beat up banjo. Frog passed the old beat up banjo to me. Now in addition to being a below average guitar player, I am trying to learn to play the banjo.
I thought playing banjo which only has five strings, and one is a drone thing and almost doesn’t even count would be easy to learn. The guitar has six strings so the banjo should be much easier to play.
This instrument is evil. Even when you play a chord or note properly, it has that weird banjo twang and it never sounds really right. Then it is really more of a finger picking instrument than it is a strumming instrument so the right hand has to learn some weird picking patterns and you also have to learn when to use them.
To make matters worse, the old beat up banjo has horrible action. To get the correct sound out of a given string you have to press with your finger tip like a mother gripper. I guess I could buy a new banjo and see if a better instrument would be easier to learn to play, but I prefer to see if I can learn on this one before I Make a serious investment. It is kind of a chicken egg thing.
I have little musical ability, but I do have lots of time, so perhaps I can become mediocre at multiple instruments. The banjo does have some purpose. If you ever have guests that just won’t leave, you can just pull out the old banjo and pluck them away.
Back when Frog had the fingers to play the banjo I used to joke that when you listened to banjo music you could actually feel your IQ dropping.
That may being so, but still it am fun to try and be learning!