My boys introduced me to the band Mumford and Sons last year, and I began to notice how much of modern music has been permeated by the banjo. No longer just the ol’timers renditions of “I’ll Fly Away” and other golden oldies, banjo was now adding its joyful good times to all kinds of tunes.
Banjos began to attract me like a moth to a flame. Every time I’d hit a music store I’d pick one up and plus away — and I couldn’t do so without giggling. “It is impossible to play a sad song on a banjo,” I proclaimed, “And it is impossible to play one without smiling.”
Of course, people took up that challenge and began throwing out lists of sad banjo songs, but I didn’t care; I had to get me one! When a local music store had a closing out sale, I had my bargain basement chance.
So I brought home my beautiful shiny new toy — which I totally can’t play — plus two how-to-play-banjo books, and I started to learn.
The very first lesson? Banjos have finicky tuning pegs! The smallest touch and twaaaang! That puppy is outa tune!
I was relaying this to some customers at work one day. They are a local bluegrass band, and I was serving them breakfast and we got talking shop.
“So, is there a trick to keeping your banjo in tune?” I asked, and my simple question brought down the house.
“This is the joke,” their banjo player said to me, “How long does it take to get a banjo in tune? Nobody knows, it’s never been done before!”
Well, good to know it’s not just me!
Well, good news people, today I found a tool which should help — check out this free online banjo tuner!
Let me know how it goes, or post video clips of your flying fingers for us to enjoy!