Banjo/Expert Profile

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I can answer most general questions on bluegrass banjo (3-finger, or "Scruggs" style; basics of playing, major figures associated with the style (mostly older, or "traditional" practitioners, not so much the contemporary players). I can deal with basic music theory as applied to the 5-string banjo, plus tunings, techniques, and associated styles (melodic, single-string). I've never been an instructor, but I've taken enough lessons and collected enough instructional material that I'm sure I could help out beginning students. I'm good with tablature, less used to classical notation; I've attained a pretty broad knowledge of bluegrass in general - the songs, players, and history, but I don't have such a refined ear that I could differentiate one person's playing style from another just by listening, like some can. I can also answer questions regarding "jamming" procedure and etiquette, since that's what I've tried to focus on lately in my own playing. I don't regard myself as any kind of expert on banjo construction or banjo makers. I also do not perform on stage, so I have little knowledge of the procedures of equipment related to that area.

Experience in the area

I've played 5-string banjo, on and off, since around 1978, though with greater intensity the past several years. I've had many private lessons, have attended numerous workshops and bluegrass festivals, and have done quite a lot of self-teaching with the aid of many books, videos, and cd materials collected over time.


Northern Nevada Bluegrass Association, California Bluegrass Association


Library Journal, NNBA Newsletter, Desert Survivors newsletter (The Survivor)


BA - English - Washington State University MLS - Library Science - Columbia University

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Recent Answers from Patrick Dunn

2015-12-27 bluegrass arpeggios:

It's an interesting question.  You're correct in that bluegrass-style banjo can be thought of as playing continuous arpeggios, though your average banjo player wouldn't be giving the question that much

2011-12-19 Lessons:

Greetings Barry, and thanks for your question.  There are lots of good instruction books out there; the Earl book is probably the most standard, and certainly the most referenced in bluegrass.  Replace

2011-10-07 Beginner Banjo Purchase:

Hi Robert -     I can't call myself an expert in this particular area, but I can help point you in the right direction.  Ross Nickerson at offers


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