“To obtain the best possible tone from the instrument a delicate “touch” and diligent practice is required…One essential point…is to employ lightness and grace with every movement.” Barnes & Mullins Banjo School, 1898-ish

“Yes, my young friend, the banjo can be played with much feeling and expression!…the more expression and intensity he can extract from the instrument, the more artistic the performance.” Letters to the Young Banjoist (in The Crown Banjo Method), by Thomas J. Armstrong, 1885

"For the Legato or Sostenuto and Pianissimo the strings should be played near the fingerboard in rather a light and fanciful manner…The Vibrato: This effect is worthy of the attention of all banjoists.” Ellis’ Advanced School for the Banjo & Zither Banjo, by Herbert J. Ellis

Terms not often associated with banjo playing: delicate, lightness and grace, feeling and expression, expression and intensity, light and fanciful, vibrato...


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Something we should all aim for..  pity that my cast iron fingertips preclude me from this skill, as I guess could be said for Ossman, Van Eps, Joe Morley and Tarrant Bailey too.

Haha. Of course. There was variety. It's the spice, apparently. We should celebrate variety in the classic banjo. 

I fully agree Rob !

Really? That's good news. 

Yes Rob, I like classic style to sound like how it was played in the good old days and on no matter what type of banjo.

This is lovely and from someone you don't normally associate with Classic Style.

Nylon wasn't around at the time, but still delightful on a steel strung resonator banjo with finger picks. Nice and bright and plenty of foot tapping beat.

Yes, I've seen that, and the Bill Evans zither banjo video. Hopefully these high-profile guys will bring new people to our shores. Once here they will discover there is a lot more to the classic banjo than trebly brightness and foot-tapping beats :-) This Scotsman will never be at home with picking and grinning, playing endlessly happy English tunes! Thankfully there are more sombre, wistful, meditative pieces in the repertoire too, to keep our more mellow souls content.

Ian, you might as well give up trying to turn me into something I'm not. Playing happy, sunshine pieces while smiling to the camera is the LAST thing I will ever do. :-) Give me laments and dirges over happy ditties any day! Lol. 

Just for the record, I'm pulling your leg, and you mine. I love what you do, and wouldn't want you to change. And neither will I. But I do ask you to accept the banjo and it's zither variety doesn't have to be the same thing to all people. So please refrain from reminding me over and over again that I do not play like Vess, Fred and Olly. The truth is, I don't want to - which doesn't mean I don't love what they do. 

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