How Hard Is It To Learn Banjo
Music Advice & Knowledge

How Hard Is It To Learn Banjo?

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Written By Will Fenton
Music Advice & Knowledge

How Hard Is It To Learn Banjo?

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Are you drawn to the lively sound of banjo and want to learn how to play it?

Then you’re probably wondering: how hard is it to learn banjo?

Learning how to play the banjo is fairly challenging. However, compared to other stringed musical instruments, it’s much easier to learn the basics. If you take lessons and practice regularly for at least a year, you should be able to read music and play banjo at a good level.

Lucky for you, the banjo is one of the beginner-friendly instruments. But that doesn’t make it easy.

Learning banjo does entail certain challenges, but in comparison to other stringed instruments, it’s actually not as hard as it might seem.

It’s true that fast music such as Irish and bluegrass songs associated with the banjo makes it seem hard to play.

But if you have the right approach and a good learning source, learning banjo doesn’t have to be strenuous.

In fact, it can be very fun and interesting, and it’s definitely good to know what to expect before you start with your lessons.

So, if you want to know how hard is it to play the banjo and what does that requires, you’ve come to the right place!

How Hard is it to Learn Banjo?

As we’ve already mentioned, the banjo can mostly be heard in Irish traditional music and the bluegrass music genre. It’s also popular in country music and Dixieland jazz.

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However, you can adjust any other song to the banjo, which makes it a very versatile and convenient instrument to play.

That said, you shouldn’t be afraid of fast tempos in Earl Scrugss’ performances. With enough practice and dedication, you’ll get there, but not just yet.

Banjo player Gina Clowes

So, start with a slow tempo and easy melodies. Learning banjo is extremely hard for beginners if you don’t master the basics first. And playing the banjo fluidly takes a lot of practice.

Learning banjo is rather a physical exercise as it requires a lot of repetitive exercises.

But the good thing is, these exercises are slightly easier than with other instruments.

Banjo strings are thinner than the guitar or ukulele strings which makes them easier to fret. Therefore, your fingers will not hurt as much.

Banjos usually have fewer strings than the guitar. The most common banjo has 5 strings while the guitar has six.

But even the 6-string banjo has a smaller neck than the guitar which makes it a bit easier to play. This type of banjo is tuned like the guitar, so it’s a good choice if you have some experience playing the guitar.

If you’ve never played a stringed instrument before, you’ll find the banjo the easiest to start with.

Additionally, since banjo necks are narrow, it’s easier to play more complex chords. Playing the guitar, on the other hand, requires more finger flexibility.

Banjo players usually use a 3-finger or a clawhammer technique. If you’re a beginner, it’s probably better to start with the clawhammer (called after the hand’s shape it requires) and then progress to the 3-finger and fast picking styles.

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Another thing that makes banjo a bit easier to handle than some other instruments is the banjo tablature. You won’t have to learn in-depth music theory and complex notation in order to play the banjo successfully.

Most banjo music is written as a tablature which is easier to read than sheet music.

This means you can learn the basics of playing the banjo rather quickly. However, the speed of your progress really depends on the effectiveness of your learning.

The Fastest Way to Learn Banjo

The way you approach your lessons affects the answer to the question of how hard is it to learn the banjo.

There are many different ways you can learn the banjo nowadays, so you can choose methods that suit your learning style. For example, if you need clear guidance and someone to motivate you, you should find a good teacher or an online instructor.

If you don’t have a chance or wish to attend traditional music classes, there are amazing online banjo lessons to choose from. They are usually affordable, effective, and fun.  

The great thing about online lessons is that you can learn at your own pace and choose the material you like. This freedom can be tricky though – you need to have the self-discipline to stick to your practice schedule.

man wearing hat playing banjo.

And practice is the only way to learn the banjo quickly. And it’s always more effective to have a half an hour session per day than practice for 5 hours on Saturday. So, find the time in the day that’s ideal for you to practice, and keep at it!

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As we’ve mentioned earlier, practicing the banjo entails a repetitive physical exercise if you want to play fast melodies. But with patience and persistence, anything is possible!

When you gain more advanced banjo skills, your muscle memory will do most of the work, and you’ll be able to add nuances to your performance.

And like most of the instruments, learning advanced banjo techniques is not easy. So, when you’re asking yourself is it hard to play the banjo, be aware that the answer also depends on your goals.

If you simply want to play the banjo for fun and learn a couple of songs, you’ll be able to do it easily with enough practice and good guidance.

But if your goals are more ambitious, you should be prepared for a long journey.

Final Thoughts

If you’re wondering how hard is it to learn banjo, we hope this article helped clear things up.

We know you didn’t get a straight answer, but it’s not possible to give one when there are so many factors to consider.

Your previous musical experience, the time you have on your hands, and the quality of your learning source are just some of the things that play a role in your success.

On the other hand, learning banjo is slightly easier than some other instruments, and its design and technique make it great for beginners.

But it all ultimately comes down to your mindset and willingness to put some effort into gaining musical skills.

Learning banjo is incredibly fun but it also requires focus and patience.

So, find a good banjo course and start with your lessons – it will be worth it!

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Will Fenton

Introduced to good music at a young age through my father. The first record I remember being played was "Buffalo Soldier" by Bob Marley, I must've been six years old. By the time I was seven, I was taking drum lessons once a week. The challenge but the euphoric feeling of learning a new song was addicting, and I suppose as they say the rest was history. Favorite album of all time? Tattoo You by The Rolling Stones Best gig you've ever been to? Neil Young at Desert Trip in 2016 Media mentions: Evening Standard Daily Mail

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