|The Sparrow Quartet in performance. The photo was taken May 24, 2008, at The Asheville Music Jamboree in Asheville, North Carolina, United States. Left to right: Béla Fleck (bluegrass banjo), Abigail Washburn (clawhammer banjo), Ben Sollee (cello), and Casey Driessen (5-string fiddle). |
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I would love to be able to play the fiddle, but the fiddle is a harder instrument to learn. To be able to join in and play in jam sessions in no time (well, maybe not in no time, but in a reasonable time) you will find the banjo, mandolin much faster to learn. The base fiddle or upright base is another choice to consider and it's easy to learn, but not nearly as much fun as playing the banjo or mandolin.
Between the mandolin, the clawhammer banjo, and bluegrass banjo, they are easiest to learn to play in the order given. That is, the mandolin is the easiest to learn, the clawhammer banjo is next and the bluegrass banjo (with the three-finger picking style) is the hardest of the three. But all three are much easier to learn to play than the fiddle.
The best way to start learning to play one of these instruments is to get your own instrument. You could rent one, but if you rent an instrument, you may find that you are not really committed to learning to play.
You need to start with a good instrument and some of the new low-priced instruments are not your best choice. The good news is that is fairly easy to find good quality used banjos and mandolins on eBay and other online sources. If you live in an area where bluegrass and old-time music is popular, you may be able to get a good deal by checking your local classified ads.
The best way to get a good deal is to be informed. Do your research -- read reviews and check prices and know what banjos and mandolins like what you're looking for are bringing. Check eBay's completed auctions to see what instruments are really selling for -- not just what people are asking for them.
If you have a friend who plays the kind of instrument you're interested in, he or she can be a great asset in helping you find just the right instrument for you. Ask them to look at any instrument you are considering.
By looking at the instrument, realize that looking at the pictures and descriptions on eBay can be as good as (and maybe even better) than actually holding an instrument because on eBay, the seller will point out all of the scratches and defects, whereas when someone hands you an instrument to look at, they are inclined to just hand it to you and comment about how pretty it is and how much they have enjoyed playing it.
The most important part is to do your research, check prices on used instruments and then get your first banjo or mandolin and start learning to play. The banjo or mandolin you choose will probably not be the one you will want to play after you have played for a while, so look to spend a little more than you may have originally thought you would pay. Stay within your budget, but get as good of an instrument as you can afford.
Later you can sell your instrument on eBay or elsewhere and probably get most (if not all) of your money back. In fact, every time I have sold a used instrument I have been able to sell it for more than I paid for it.
How long will it take you to be able to jam with your friends will depend on how much you practice. Practice 15 minutes a day and you will make a lot more progress than trying to play for several hours once a week.
It will take a lifetime to master the mandolin or the banjo, but that is the best part. In my opinion, the banjo and mandolin are two instruments you can learn to play in a reasonable amount of time and then continue learning for years to come.
Jerry Minchey is an engineer, author, researcher and a bit of a musician. He cuts through the hype and gets down to the bare facts to reveal secrets that are easy to understand using non-technical terms. He has written several books and produced DVDs as a result of his research.
Article Source: EzineArticles