We have these layers of stories bulked up in our head about certain topics or physical things that gives us a negative or perpetual belief about something that is not true, myths.
The same goes for an enthusiastic new learner, a musician from the scratch, and their preferred musical instrument. Even before having hands-on experience or proper knowledge about a particular tool, newbie’s usually flooded their brains with all sorts of ‘this and that’. Guess what, it doesn’t help in any way.
The best thing to do is dig into the reality, rather than believing what people say, explore the truths and facts by yourself and things will be easier for you. An enthusiast, who is willing to play the banjo, will be like ahhhh, a banjo is hard, complicated, and whatnot.
Well, let me tell you, each and every musical instrument is hard, only if you don’t know how to play it. Just because you haven’t mastered this beautiful instrument, doesn’t mean you have to believe in certain things about it.
Before breaking down some common misconceptions about a banjo, first, let us know about the instrument in short. A banjo is a fretted stringed instrument similar to the guitar, but keep in mind, it’s not the guitar. Originated in Africa and later popularized in America. A banjo has been the driving force behind many early jazz bands. For someone willing to learn this instrument, I am sure they have come across the Gibson Mastertone banjo series one way or the other.
Anyways, we are not going for an instrument review; we are here to debate some of the common stereotypes regarding banjos. So let us explore the matter without further ado.
- Most Common Myths about Banjo
- 1. An Instrument for the halfwits
- 2. Restricted to genres
- 3. Accustomed to one or two playing style
- 4. Fingerpicking is the only technique you apply on a banjo.
- 5. You cannot play Metal songs on a Banjo
- 6. Banjo is made only for bluegrass
- 7. Used only in cheerful compositions
- 8. One of the hardest instruments to play
- 9. The heavier the banjo the better the sound
- 10. Flashier and more inlays sums up a good banjo
- 11. Tuning a banjo is time killing
- 12. No need to invest in a good banjo
- 13. High-end banjos or nothing at all
- 14. An Older version of banjos is better
- 15. The use of banjo is coming to a dead end
Most Common Myths about Banjo
1. An Instrument for the halfwits
This fact is just as stupid as it sounds. Learning an instrument itself takes a lot of patience, dedication, and skill, so just as a reminder, people who pick up the banjo are not blockheads. If you look around, you will be surprised to see that majority of the players are well educated and humorous.
2. Restricted to genres
Banjo is in no way a one-dimensional instrument. The common understanding for most people is that with a banjo you are limited to playing certain types of music. It’s wrong because banjo has been widely used in the genre like rock, jazz, and folk.
If you listen to the bands like Mumford and Sons, Matchbox 20, Eagles, Elle, etc. you will know how diverse an instrument banjo can be, it all depends on how you are implementing it.
3. Accustomed to one or two playing style
Wrong! Banjo is such a diverse instrument, if played by an open-minded artist, there is no way you can confine this instrument to certain playing styles. Exploring genres with a banjo is limitless.
4. Fingerpicking is the only technique you apply on a banjo.
Really? I will just oppose it by introducing you to one of the finest country musicians, the late “Pete Seeger” checks out the video you will realize that there are so many techniques and style you can integrate through a banjo.
5. You cannot play Metal songs on a Banjo
Not everyone plays metal on a banjo, but saying, it is not possible is like cementing wrong facts. You can survey the internet and find so many metal songs and cover songs played using banjo. It is possible. Check out the video
6. Banjo is made only for bluegrass
We have already discussed it previously, the banjo is not restricted to genres and it varies on the players. Tons musicians play jazz, blues, folk, alternative rock, yes bluegrass as well. There is no limit to the diversity, you can possess.
7. Used only in cheerful compositions
Just like I mentioned above, the banjo is not restricted to the types of music. The restriction comes from certain players who believe it’s not worthy of exploring the instrument, which doesn’t mean it can’t be played in different song types. It depends on the musician, if the artist has a melancholic ballad, patriotic tune, or whatever, they can easily fit in the banjo in harmony with the song.
You are just a few clicks away, search for the brands mentioned in point no.2, or just survey YouTube, you will hear happy, sad and many other emotions are being conveyed convincingly. Music is for the soul and you can touch all the feelings through a banjo.
8. One of the hardest instruments to play
This is one saying that would make any professional laugh out loud, the saying itself seems impractical. Let me re-quote something more practical for you if you are willing to be a proficient musician “Each and every musical instrument is hard to play, only if you don’t know how to play it.”
You need to have the dedication to learn something and with perseverance, you will succeed. Starting up with a banjo is not the hardest task out there. You can start with a five-string banjo, uncomplicated to be honest. Easy to start with the chords and move ahead with other patterns. The style of your playing, plus how well you adapt to music theories and make the instrument feel easy is crucial. You cannot just pick up an instrument and become a master overnight.
Believe it or not, the banjo is one of the easiest stringed instruments. So, practice, practice, practice, you are good to go.
9. The heavier the banjo the better the sound
This is not the case at all. Banjos are kind of on the heavier side because of their metal infrastructures, the resonator that has a tone ring and flange all suffice to the weight of it.
You have to keep in mind that not all banjos have tone rings, and some are fitted with lighter ones, yet they sound great, and musicians around the world are successfully using such banjos. Look for lighter banjos if you will, many good-sounding banjos are on the lighter side, but don’t expect it to be paper light. Just make sure you don’t fall into a trap buying ultra-cheap products made of low-graded parts.
10. Flashier and more inlays sums up a good banjo
All that glitters is not gold. Just abide by it and make sure you don’t get scammed by dazzling things. Flashier Inlays or no inlays, it doesn’t matter because everything depends on your choice of how you want your banjo to be exhibited. Just make sure the banjo is in working condition.
11. Tuning a banjo is time killing
Well, you don’t want to play an out-of-tune instrument, do you? Just tune it right! Make sure you know the basics, frets, the numbering of strings, and how to use the pegs. Most of the players use the G standard tuning, it’s relatively easy, the G is the open string and the rest goes like D, G, B and D. Change the tuning as you desire. If tuning with your ear is time-consuming and you are not sounding accurate, use an electronic tuner.
12. No need to invest in a good banjo
If you have this belief, you are surely sullying music, because a decent instrument is one of the primary objectives before you start learning. Even If you are an accomplished musician, you are not going to downgrade your rig, are you? You are going to upgrade to something better, right? So beginners should always start with a pristine instrument because music has to be taken seriously if you are to do music. Keep in mind this instrument will serve you, highlight your musicianship, so make sure you invest in the good ones from the get-go. There are excellent affordable banjos available on the market. Whatever you pay for, just don’t compromise with quality.
13. High-end banjos or nothing at all
Not everyone has the cash flow. Yes, high-end banjos are excellent, for example, Deering Banjo Company and many more. The most important thing is that you must abide by your desired budget. Let me tell you there are so many affordable banjo brands to pick from.
14. An Older version of banjos is better
The majority of musicians prefer relic instruments, the quality you get from old instruments is indeed top-notch, but only if it is preserved well. That being said, freshly produced ones on the market will also give you the value for your money. We live in the modern era and manufacturers around the world have advanced to greater heights thus producing top-quality instruments for the users. As consumers, you need to encourage new day creators, because they have the craftsmanship to deliver the goods and they are doing so.
15. The use of banjo is coming to a dead end
If that was the case, banjos would be out of production, and no bands or artists in recent times will be using it anymore. Is that the case? Absolutely no! Banjos are in demand; therefore you will see renowned banjo manufacturers like Oscar Schmidt, Recording king banjos, Goldtone, Deering Banjo Company are still on the market.
Not just that, low-end products are being produced in mass numbers because of the demand, and high-end products and custom-made products are still being served. As long as diversity and the need for this stringed instrument is there, there is no stopping. The situation will only flourish as new talented players are picking up the banjo as their desired instruments.
Related: Goldtone banjo review
Though there are lots of fun playing banjo, myths about Banjo are more interesting. You know! Some of them are stupendous myths but a few of them are obvious and good too. What do you think, which myths we should believe? Let us know in the comments.