Hi, my name is Mark and I have a stringed instrument fetish!

Over the years I have purchased a lot of books, CD's and DVD's, as well as online instruction on various stringed instruments, styles and methods. As you probably know many of these purchases are wasteful as the number of bad examples far outweighs the good.

I am in no way making any claim to be a music instructor. And I recognise that everyone learns in different ways. I prefer a visual lesson, and to hear the example of the playing whenever possible. So the modern trend toward video instruction with different camera angles, sometimes in split screen, combined with the sound and often tablature or charts works better for me than the common method of someone playing a lick and saying "there, like that!" Slow down I'm lost! is all too frequently the result. My intention is simply to share some of the things I have found to be useful. The bonus is that so much is now available for free or very affordably priced!

I find the lessons I prefer to have a more relaxed and methodical demeanor and style resulting in a calming effect that helps me focus. Some instructors unfortunately seem to be high strung, distracted, disorganized and lacking focus. Some clearly have a raging case of attention deficit disorder.

 For many, the first decision might be on what instrument, playing style and difficulty level they are interested in and where to start. I will attempt when possible to start with suggestions for absolute beginners unless otherwise noted.

*Tip:Where I have posted embedded videos, You may consider them a preview. If it helps to see the video full screen (as it does for my eyes!) you can right click on the video and click the "watch on youtube" tab or click on the tab I have added below the video and then select the full screen option there.

Old time/frailing/clawhammer styles demonstrated:

Note that there must be nearly as many old time styles as players, here is a sampling-








Frailing/Clawhammer beginners lessons:

Richard Peek:

Richard provides some good basic tips for getting started on clawhammer banjo in these two videos. (They are very similar to lessons given by Dan Levenson on his video series on "beginner banjo for the clawless" Pt1)








Heres Mandy, from Banjobandits.com with her quick lesson on the basic clawhammer strum. Look in the background. Where ya been Mandy?


Dan Levenson:

Here are some sample Dan Levenson clawhammer lesson videos, if you like his style I will provide additional links at the bottom of the article.








Kelly Griner

Kelly provides us with some tips on getting started on Frailing/Clawhammer in the Folk style






Picking and Bluegrass styles demonstrated:





Beginner picking/roll lessons:





*Video not available for embedding, similar to above-




Here are some links to further lessons and resources. Also, if you have a specific song you would like to see a lesson on, try a search at youtube. There are many many specific song lessons posted there.

Ross Nickerson-Bluegrass/picking/rolls

Ross offers a large number of lessons in the bluegrass style.




Patrick Costello-Clawhammer/Frailing

I like Patricks teaching style. His blog at daily frail contained a vast archive of lessons and tips, but for personal reasons he has chosen to remove them and cease the blog. Too bad as it was a great resource!  He appears to be working on something new, and I will update this information if it works out. Meanwhile he does still have some stuff on youtube:  



And Patrick still offers some DVD lessons for sale:


Dan Levenson-Clawhammer/Frailing

Dan published two videos and a book on clawhammer for beginners that I find very useful. He takes you slowly through the beginning steps and sends you off to practice at the appropriate stages. Then adds some more techniques and chords, slowly building into your first song. (Old time banjo, Painted pony in double c tuning)





Kelly writes what I consider to be a very good banjo blog. His style is Folk and Irish pub songs. Each week he posts a lesson and what makes his especially nice is that he posts a link to an MP3 audio download AND a pdf file of the tablature along with the video of the lesson.  Nice guy!

More advanced styles and tips:
Here are some more links to some relatively advanced styles, lessons and techniques-
Mark Johnson:
This guy teaches an advanced or what I would call "hybrid" clawhammer style he calls "Clawgrass." Heres an overview-


Tom Collins:
Tom teaches an old time style variation that is called "round peak" and gives some tips on playing a fretless banjo.
Elements of Round Peak-


Tom also gives a nice overview lesson on the unusual style of Walt Koken, Walts worth a listen, be sure search youtube for some of his songs if this interests you!

Kokenology 101




Now if youve made it this far through this post you deserve a treat to some just good old fashioned must listen Banjo!
Steve Martin
Yep, did you know he is a grammy nominated musician? He is certainly one of my favorite clawhammer players to listen to and watch. His 2009 disc "The Crow" is on my must own list!


Views: 9601

Replies to This Discussion

Sorry about the editing mistakes, the ning program has its challenges. And I dont even know how the last two youtube links got there, they are duplicates-ignore them.
All right, never mind the last post, I fixed the worst of it.

Hi Mark,

I am familiar with Patrick Costello and Rpeek, both of whom have some good videos on Youtube and other places on the Internet for learning frailing (clawhammer). I saw their videos while I was in the States this past Summer, when I bought myself a real bannjo to learn clawhammer. I'll have to check out Dan Levenson. Thanks for the links.


Another addition!

Brand new website for sharing and learning Banjo, and they invite Guitar, Mando and Fiddle players to participate as well. Looks promising despite being brand new. Give a look, and join up and participate if it strikes yer fancy!




The Essential Pages

New to Cigar Box Nation? How to Play Cigar Box GuitarsFree Plans & How to Build Cigar Box GuitarsCigar Box Guitar Building Basics

Site Sponsor

Recommended Links & Resources

Discussion Forum

Tambourine banjo. Skin bending pretty much.

Started by Sebastian Mueller. Last reply by Sebastian Mueller Sep 15, 2018. 1 Reply

not technicaly a banjo, but banjo-ish

Started by Iain T.S.. Last reply by turtlehead Aug 23, 2016. 1 Reply

Laser cut bridges cbgitty

Started by egyptpunk Aug 4, 2016. 0 Replies

Large book with banjo plans

Started by Wade. Last reply by Jim Morris Mar 12, 2016. 4 Replies

Tin can banjo: Neck-thru options?

Started by Noam Berg. Last reply by Rand Moore Apr 4, 2014. 3 Replies

Building Round Sound Boxes for Banjos

Started by Rand Moore. Last reply by Rand Moore Nov 6, 2013. 5 Replies

Some specifically general questions

Started by Matt Quinney. Last reply by Rand Moore Oct 11, 2013. 33 Replies

4 string banjo strings

Started by Mr. Toad Sep 30, 2013. 0 Replies

4 string or 5 string banjo for blues?

Started by JIm Trussler. Last reply by Gerald Readore Aug 22, 2012. 1 Reply

5-String Banjo Discussion Area

Started by Rand Moore. Last reply by Ryan Rose Feb 4, 2012. 10 Replies

a free banjo album, sort of

Started by Matthew Borczon. Last reply by Matthew Borczon Jan 15, 2012. 2 Replies

Banjo Blues Tab

Started by Gary Davis. Last reply by Matthew Borczon Jan 12, 2012. 5 Replies

CB Banjuke Project

Started by John Hopper. Last reply by Rand Moore Nov 30, 2011. 1 Reply

Banjo Ukulele

Started by John Hopper. Last reply by Rand Moore Nov 27, 2011. 4 Replies

Need help identifying a banjo

Started by DonnieC. Last reply by Mark Bliss Sep 28, 2011. 1 Reply

General Questions

Started by Kyle. Last reply by Mark Bliss Sep 4, 2011. 3 Replies

Latest Activity

BrianQ. left a comment for Jim Weaver
6 minutes ago
BrianQ. left a comment for Crazed Fandango
"I see you’ve been gone awhile, we picked up a glitch in that time, here’s what to do?"
8 minutes ago
BrianQ. left a comment for Bill Andy
13 minutes ago
BrianQ. left a comment for Sam Beavers
13 minutes ago
Rob (Uker) Porras commented on David Hopkins's photo

Angel 2x Anti-Body #17

"Ooo… tre sexy"
25 minutes ago
Profile IconBill Andy, Bill Andy, Sam Beavers and 1 more joined Cigar Box Nation
1 hour ago
Cigar Box Nation commented on Poorness Studios's video

Jose Cuervo | Shelly West cover on 4-string CBG

"Got your message about more glitches on this site. I've been talking to Ben about making the…"
1 hour ago
Doug Thorsvik posted a video

I Can Only Imagine: 2-String Chugger License Plate Cigar Box Guitar

Cigar Box Guitar Slingers - Spokane, 199th Zoom Mtg 04/22/24. Only 1-finger chords, free songbooks here: https://www.cbgslinger.com/download CBG SOF Songbook...
3 hours ago
Bernie Edwards liked David Hopkins's photo
9 hours ago
Bernie Edwards liked David Hopkins's photo
9 hours ago
Crazed Fandango replied to Rich Butters's discussion UK - Best Place to Buy Cigar Box's
10 hours ago
Crazed Fandango liked Paul Atkinson's discussion Journal Article on the Cigar Box Guitar scene in the UK
10 hours ago


© 2024   Created by Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

\uastyle>\ud/** Scrollup **/\ud.scrollup {\ud background: url("https://storage.ning.com/topology/rest/1.0/file/get/963882636?profile=original") no-repeat scroll 0 0 transparent;\ud bottom: 25px;\ud display: inline !important;\ud height: 40px;\ud opacity: 0.3 !important;\ud position: fixed;\ud right: 30px;\ud text-indent: -9999px;\ud width: 40px;\ud z-index: 999;\ud}\ud.scrollup:hover {\ud opacity:0.99!important;\ud}\ud \uascript type="text/javascript">\ud x$(document).ready(function(){\ud x$(window).scroll(function(){\ud if (x$(this).scrollTop() > 100) {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeIn();\ud } else {\ud x$('.scrollup').fadeOut();\ud }\ud });\ud x$('.scrollup').click(function(){\ud x$("html, body").animate({ scrollTop: 0 }, 600);\ud return false;\ud });\ud });\ud \ua!-- End Scroll Up -->