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Playing Guitar and Banjo

Question by Ducky
(Henderson, Nevada)

Hi. We are Seniors and just starting to learn to play the guitar.

I have heard that if you learn to play guitar you can play banjo as well. Is this true? Or is it the other way around?

I love the Banjo and would love to be able to play it. Or do you have to learn each one separately?

I appreciate your assistance with this. God bless you all.


The banjo is such a fun instrument and there are clearly some transferable skills from guitar to banjo and vice versa, or any stringed, fretted instrument for that matter. I picked up bass very quickly after about three years of playing guitar, for example.

If you've been playing guitar for some time, you'll already have gone through the pain of pressing the strings for prolonged periods and developed calluses on your finger tips.

There'll also be a certain degree of muscle memory, for physically applying your fingers on a fretboard and holding the neck, that will transfer over to the banjo.

The most obvious differences are:

Number of strings - although you can get six string banjos, the most common are four and five string.

Tuning - many banjo players use a form of open tuning (e.g. open G tuning) or alternate tuning. Four string players tend to use C G B D or the same tuning as the top four strings on a guitar (D G B e).

Chord and scale patterns - as the tuning is different to a six string guitar, chord shapes and scale patterns will appear differently on the fingerboard, so you'll need to memorise these from scratch.

There are also specific playing techniques associated with banjo such as "rolls" and cross picking which you can easily find lessons for on Youtube.

I think you're in an advantageous position to learn banjo if you've been playing guitar, and vice versa.

And who knows, it might encourage you to branch out and broaden your horizons as a musician.

So I say go for it!

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Good instrument
By: Anonymous

Going up Cripple Creak,,,early song I learned

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