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The Canonical List of Banjo Jokes
Below is the much talked about,
Canonical List of Banjo Jokes.
Much talked about, but never revealed; until now. This presentation
is the result of the tireless efforts of an International network
of operatives who combed the earth (and beyond) checking and cross-checking
sources to make sure that this time we had the real thing: the
definitive list of banjo jokes. Some withstood torture--and some
paid the ultimate price: death. So important was our work that
we persevered in spite of the obstacles.
Before proceeding I would like to add a few words of caution.
Banjo jokes are jokes about banjo players, their music, their
instrument, environmentalism, animal rights, human sacrifice,
and interplanetary grave robbing. These jokes have never been
told in their entirety because they are dangerously funny: no
one has ever lived to retell them in their entirety.
We have taken great precautions to safeguard our health while
compiling this list: each operative was responsible for a manageably
sized module of the jokes (one not too large as to overcome the
individual with so much mirth that would cause him/her to die
laughing.) As I typed these jokes, I was blindfolded: part of
the jokes were related in various, and obscure languages and dialects,
other parts written, and still other parts transmitted in Braille
or Morse code.
Therefore, I caution you to do the following:
1. Under no circumstances should you read any part of these jokes
if you have a heart condition, stroke, or high blood pressure.
2. Form a team, and take turns reading sections of these jokes.
If you find yourself becoming dizzy, or beginning to lose consciousness,
3. If you have taken recreational drugs within the last 24 hours
these jokes may cause serious health complications.
4. (3) is also true for certain prescription drugs.
5. Refrain from eating, drinking, or engaging in sexual intercourse
while reading these jokes.
6. If you have any questions, please consult a physician before
attempting to read these jokes.
Are you sure you want to read these jokes?
Is your will in order and your life insurance paid up?
Is it really worth the risks?
This is your last chance to exit before being exposed to the
Complete List of 271 Banjokes.
These jokes will change (or end) your life. I cannot give you
any guarantees as to how these jokes will affect you; it all depends
upon your physical and psychological state (which I cannot know.)
Once again, are you sure that you are ready to read the Canonical
List of Banjo Jokes?
This is your last chance!! I mean it! Stop now before it's too late!
God help you and "May the Force be with you…"
Disclaimer: This book is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the
author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance
to actual events or locals or persons, living or dead, is entirely
Dedicated to the time & place that is the unique lifestyle
of the banjo player of the '90s in Southern California and the
excitement and freedom that it brings us--it's cheaper than therapy...
What's the difference between a banjo and a(n)…
- a chain saw has a dynamic range.
- you can turn a chain saw off.
- South American Macaw: one is loud, obnoxious, and noisy;
and the other is a bird.
- Harley Davidson Motorcycle: you can tune a Harley.
- Onion: no one cries when you cut up a banjo.
- Trampoline: you take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline.
- Uzi: an uzi only repeats forty times.
How many banjo players does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Five; one to screw it in and four to:
- complain that it's electric.
- lament about how much they miss the old one.
- complain that Earl wouldn't have done it thata-way.
- argue about what year it was made.
- argue about how much it costs.
- ask what tuning she's using.
- stand around and watch.
- 10: one to do it & the other 9 to stand around &
say, "I could have done it better."
- none: but hum a few bars and I'll fake it.
How many bass players does it take to screw in a light bulb?
- All of them are too layed back to bother to change it.
- Six: One to change it and five to keep the banjo players
from hogging the light.
- How many light bulb joke tellers does it take to change a light bulb?
100: One to change it & 99 to make stupid jokes about it…
- What did the banjo player get on his IQ (or SAT) test? Drool…
- How can you tell if the stage is level? If the banjo player
drools out of both sides of his mouth.
- Why do some people take an instant aversion to banjo players?
It saves time in the long run.
- What's the difference between a skunk run over on the road
and a banjo player run over on the road?
You see skid marks in front of the skunk.
- What's the difference between a run over skunk [or frog] and
a run over banjo player?
The skunk [frog] was on it's way to a gig.
- How many banjo players does it take to eat a opossum? Two,
one to eat it & one to watch for cars.
- How can you tell the difference between all the banjo songs?
By their names…
- What is the definition of perfect pitch? Throwing a
banjo into a toilet without hitting the seat.
- What do you call a good musician at a banjo contest? A visitor.
What are flaming guitars good for?
- Lighting banjos on fire.
- Why are banjos better than guitars?
They burn longer.
- What's the best thing to play on a banjo?
- What's the difference between a fiddle & a violin?
Who cares?!? Neither of them is a banjo!
- What's the best thing to play on a guitar? Solitaire.
- What do you call a guy that hangs around a bunch of musicians?
- How can you tell if there's a banjo player at your door?
They can't find the key, the knocking speeds up, and they
don't know when to come in.
- Why do bluegrass banjo pickers always die with their boots
on? So they won't stub their toes when they kick the bucket.
- You're lost in the desert and you see Bugs Bunny, a
cactus, and a good banjo player. Who do you ask for directions?
You might as well try the cactus, the other two are figments of
- Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, a good banjo player,
and an old drunk are walking down the street together when they
simultaneously spot a hundred dollar bill. Who gets it? The old
drunk, of course, the other three are mythological creatures.
- What is the banjo picker's favorite whine? "Play Dueling
- Why are all those banjo jokes so darned simple? That's so bass
players can understand them too...
Where do banjo players play best?
- In traffic.
- In a galaxy far, far away…
- How do you keep a banjo player in suspense?…
- What is the most important aspect of banjo playing?…timing…
- How is playing the banjo a lot like throwing a javelin blindfolded?
You don't have to be very good to get people's attention.
- What do you say to the banjo player in the three piece suit?
"Will the defendant please rise."
What do you get when you throw a banjo and an accordion
off the Empire State Building?
- Who Cares…
- What do you call twenty-five banjos up to their necks in sand
[or concrete]? Not enough sand. [Almost done.]
- What do you call one-hundred banjos at the bottom of the ocean?
A good start.
- What will you never say about a banjo player? That's the banjo
- How can you get a banjo player's eyes to sparkle? Shine a light
in her ears...
- You can tune a banjo but how do you tuna fish? By adjusting
- Why do so many fishermen own banjos? They make great anchors!
- Why did the Boy Scout take up the banjo? They make good paddles.
- Why did the banjo player leave his capo on the dashboard?
So he could park in the handicap zone.
- Why did the banjo player cross the road?
It was the chicken's day off.
- What is the difference between a banjo player and a prune?
Their color of course!
- How can you tell a herd of banjo players from a bunch of grapes?
Jump up and down on them…If you get wine, you've got grapes!
- I recently had surgery on my hand, and asked the doctor if,
after surgery, I would be able to play the banjo. He said, "I'm
doing surgery on your hand, not giving you a lobotomy."
- "Doctor, doctor will I be able to play the banjo after
"Yes, of course…"
"Great! I never could before…"
- What's the best or fastest way to tune a banjo?
- Which one of the following does not belong: Herpes,
Measles, AIDS, Banjo Players?
Measles--you can get rid of the Measles.
- What should you do if you run over a banjo?
- When do banjo songs sound the best?
When they're over.
- Why do fiddlers pick on banjo players?
Because they can't pick on their fiddles.
- Why does everyone pick on banjo players?
Because it's so easy!!!
- Well, maybe I should stop picking on banjo players…naaaaaah.
- There's not much between you and a fool is there?
"Just this here banjo…"
- Does this kinder, gentler era have room for another generation
of obnoxious banjo pickers telling dumb jokes and playing fast?
- Listener: Can you read music?
Banjo player: Not enough to hurt my playing.
- A man walked into a bar with his alligator and asked
the bartender, "Do you serve banjo players here?"
"Sure do," replied the bartender.
"Good," said the man.
"Give me a beer, and I'll have a banjo picker for my 'gator."
- A banjo player walked into a bar…another banjo player
walked into the bar…you'd think the second banjo player would
have seen what happened to the first banjo player and ducked!
[Under the bar.]
- The Pope and a banjo player find themselves together before
the Pearly Gates. After a small quantum of time which was spent
discussing their respective professions, Ol' Saint Peter shows
up to usher them to their new Heavenly station. After passing
out wings, harps, halos, and such, Saint Pete decides to show
them to their new lodgings. Only a brief flight from the welcome,
Pete brings them down on the front lawn (cloud-encrusted, natch)
of a huge palatial estate with all sorts of lavish trappings.
This, Pete announces, is where the banjo player will be spending
eternity, (at least until the end of time…) "Hot Dang,"
the Pope says to His-Self, "If he's getting a place like
this, I can hardly wait to see my digs!" They take flight
once again, and as Pete leads on, the landscape below begins to
appear more and more mundane until they finally land on a street
lined with Brownstone houses. Pete indicates the third walkup
on the left as the Pope's new domicile and turns to leave, wishing
the Pontiff his best. The Pope, in a mild state of astonishment,
cries out "Hey Pete! What's the deal here? You put that banjo
player-feller in a beautiful estate home and I, spiritual leader
of terra-firma, end up with this dive?"
Pete looks at the pontiff amusedly and replies: "Look here
old fellow, this street is practically encrusted with spiritual
leaders from many times and religions. We're putting you here
with them so you guys can get your dogma together. That other
guy gets an estate, because he's the first (non)damned banjo player
to make it up here!!"
- Saint Peter, wanting the new arrivals to feel at home, promised
to spend some quality time with each one. He asked his first arrival
of the day, "Hi! What's your IQ?"
"150," he said.
"Great," said Peter, as he showed the man in, "we
should get together tomorrow and discuss the Theory of Relativity
for a while." He asked the next person, "What's your
"120," she said.
"Fine, fine," said Peter, "I'd love to take some
time with you Wednesday to discuss current world politics."
To the third person, he asked, "What's your IQ?"
"42," drawled the fellow.
"Fantastic!" cried Peter, "I've been looking for
years for somebody who could help me perform a banjo duet!"
- A banjo player goes to his class reunion and meets up with
the smartest kid in his class, "Hi, how are you doing? What
have you been up to?" he says. "I'm doing experimental
brain research at the Salk Institute," replies the smart
kid. Then, our hero sees another classmate of his, who never was
very smart. He walks over to him and says, "Elroy! How are
you doing? I've been meaning to ask you, What kind of picks are
you using these days? Heard any good banjo jokes lately..."
- Strummin on the ole...
An old man was on his death bed and called his whole family together
so that he could bid them farewell and make his peace with the
world. After he said what he wanted to each in turn and he knew
he was coming very close to death he called for all to gather
"I have one thing I would like to confess before I go,"
he said. They all drew closer. "It was me," cough, wheeze,
"I was the one," he said as they leaned down as close
as they could to hear what he could barely get out in a whisper.
Gasp, cough, "I was the one," cough, wheeze, "in
the kitchen with Dinah…"
- A man went to a brain store to get some brain for dinner. He
sees a sign remarking on the quality of brain offered at this
particular brain store. So he asks the butcher: "How much
for fiddle player brain?"
"2 dollars an ounce."
"How much for mandolin player brain?"
"3 dollars an ounce."
"How much for guitar player brain?"
"4 dollars an ounce."
"How much for banjo player brain?"
"100 dollars an ounce."
"Why is banjo player brain so much more?"
"Do you know how many banjo players you need to kill to get
one ounce of brain?"
- At a convention of biological scientists one researcher remarks
to another, "Did you know that in our lab we have switched
from mice to banjo players for our experiments?"
"Really?" the other replied, "Why did you switch?"
"Well, for several reasons. we found that banjo players are
far more plentiful; the lab assistants don't get so attached to
them; the Animal Rights Activists leave us alone; and there
are some things even a rat won't do... However, sometimes it is
very hard to extrapolate our test results to human beings."
- For three years, the young banjo player had been taking his
brief vacations at this country inn. The last time he'd finally
managed an affair with the innkeeper's daughter. Looking forward
to an exciting few days, he dragged his suitcase up the stairs
of the inn, and stopped short. There sat his lover with an infant
on her lap!
"Helen, why didn't you write when you learned you were pregnant?"
he cried. "I would have rushed up here, we could have gotten
married, and the baby would have my name!"
"Well," she said, "when my folks found out about
my condition, we sat up all night talkin' and talkin' and decided
it would be better to have a bastard in the family than a banjo
- Banjo players spend half their lives tuning and the
other half playing out of tune.
- Banjo pickers: we tune because we care…
- "I bought mine tuned."
- Banjo players play requests by multiple-choice not
- "You can pick your banjo and you can pick your
nose but you can't wipe your banjo on your pants."
- "Anyone can play one of them things-all you need is three
fingers and a plastic head"
- The sixth fret on a banjo is a lot like the thirteenth floor
on a building-you don't really need one.
- Banjo players are a lot like sharks--they think they
have to keep playing or they'll sink…
- "Banjos are to music as Spam is to food…"
- "He can't hear you, he's playing his banjo--his brain is
- Play Bluegrass Lite! One third Fewer Notes! Less Picking!
- "Second verse same as the first
A little bit faster and a little bit worse..."
- Banjo rap:
Them Banjo Pickers by Mason Williams
How 'bout them banjo pickers ain't they fine
Same damn song for three or four times.
Them banjo pickers all they know
Is Cumberland Gap and doe-see-doe.
Them banjo pickers talking 'bout strings
Banjo pegs and other such things.
Them banjo pickers, them poker faced mugs
They never do smile, they just play Scruggs.
You want to be a banjo picker you don't need a ticket
Just get yourself a banjo rare back and pick it...
- "The banjo is such a happy instrument--you can't play a
sad song on the banjo it always comes out so cheerful.
Doom, dispair, & agony on high...see you just can't do it." --Steve Martin
- If you practice, tune, make a sound check, & sit down to
play it's Folk music otherwise it's Bluegrass.
- "Some people call this next song Cripple Creek--but they're
- I used to play banjo on tv but my mom said get off or
I'd break it!
- After you've played the banjo long enough people will pay you
to play; however, your neighbors will pay you to stop.
- "You can either laugh a little faster or
I can tell the jokes a little slower…"
- "The only thing worse than telling banjo jokes is laughing
- How many strings does a banjo have?
Five too many…
- Why do they bury banjo players 20 feet deep?
Because they really are good people deep down…
- "Frets are like speed bumps on a banjo…"
- No matter how much you tune it--it will still sound like a banjo!
- What's the difference between a banjo player & a locksmith?
A locksmith gets paid to change keys.
- "Have you hugged your banjo today?"
- How do you get two banjo players to play in unison? Shoot one.
- Why do banjo players prefer picking rather than strumming?
It's easier to transfer a skill than learn a new one.
- A few years ago a lost group of banjo players were discovered
on a remote island in the Pacific. When asked how they survived
for so long, they answered, "from the supplies dropped by
- "Banjos! We don't need no stinkin' banjos!"
- How do you make a banjo player slow down?
Put some sheet music in front of him.
- How do you make him stop? Put notes on it!
- "What instrument do banjo players play best?"
- What's the difference between a banjo player and a savings
bond? A savings bond eventually matures and earns money.
- That banjo player is no stranger to these parts--no stranger
here than anywhere else at least...
- A banjo player is sorta like an appendix: They can both
be a big pain sometimes; you don't miss them when they're gone;
& no one's figured out what good they are…
- What's the difference between a good banjo player and Bigfoot?
There have been sightings of Bigfoot.
- What's the difference between a banjo and a lollipop?
When you lick a lollipop it disappears but when you play licks
on a banjo it's still there!
- What is the loudest noise on the beach? A banjo player and
a sea gull fighting over a fish.
What is the difference between a terrorist and a banjo player?
- You can reason with a terrorist.
- Terrorists have sympathizers.
- A man decides to take a short vacation from his job and travel
somewhere exotic. So, he books a trip to a small, essentially
untouched Pacific island where the native culture is still intact.
He has great expectations (no, not the novel by Dickens) for his
trip, as he really needs the time off.
So, he sets sail on his chartered ship to the island paradise.
As the boat is approaching the island, he notices the sound of
drums. "How quaint," he thinks, "the natives are
engaging in an ancient ritual with drums." He arrives at
the island and gets something to eat. All this time, the drums
are going. Well, after a few hours, he begins to wonder when the
drums are going to stop. So, he asks a native why the drums are
going on so long. The native runs away screaming with a terrified
look on his face.
Thinking he has probably disturbed the sanctity of the native
ritual by asking an intrusive question, the man decides to just
forget about the drums and enjoy his vacation. But, after another
two days of continuous drums, it's really beginning to bother
him. So, he asks another native, "When are the drums going
to stop?" The native just looks at him. So, he asks, "Why
are the drums going on so long?" This native, like the first
one, runs away screaming.
So, after another two days, the man has had it with drums. He
grabs the first native he sees by the neck & demands that
he make the drums stop. The native replies "I would rather
die than be the one who stops the drums." The man asks him
why. Slowly, the native answers…"Because when the drums
are over, the banjo solo starts!"
- Special book set: Buy "How to Play the Banjo" get
"How to Regain your Family's Love" free!
- What's the difference between a banjo and a flute?
Flutes don't burn!
- What's the difference between a banjo player and a lawyer?
You don't want to run over a lawyer! [You'll get sued!]
- What's this: x x x ?
Three banjo players co-signing a loan...
- Did you hear about the bass player who locked his keys
in the car? Took him three hours to get the banjo player out...
- From the autobiography Preston Sturges on Preston Sturges:
Mother took a rotten little apartment for us on Twelfth Street,
the only banal apartment I have ever known her to take, and one
afternoon I arrived home with a big smile on my face and a peculiarly
shaped package under my arm.
"What's that?" asked my mother looking at the package
apprehensively. Then in a pale gray voice, she added, "That
wouldn't happen to be a banjo by some remote chance, would it?"
"How did you guess?" I cried enthusiastically. "Just
wait till you see it!
The pawnbroker practically gave it to me for only three dollars,
including the case, and it has real mother-of-pearl between the
frets and around the scroll!"
"It's a curse," said my mother, putting her hand to
her forehead, "a taint."
"A what?" I asked, thinking I had misunderstood her.
"A pollution of the blood," said my mother, "like
leprosy. It has to be from the blood, there is no other possible
explanation. With the utmost care and during your entire life,
I have refrained from giving you even a hint about this vice of
"I never let your Grandmother Biden or anyone else mention
it to you for fear that it might awaken a dormant strain and encourage
you to emulate him. But it has all been in vain. You may as well
know now. Your father was considered, in banjo circles, to be
one of the very best banjo players in America. Such was his talent
that manufacturers would actually send him new models for nothing,
just to get his opinion and endorsement of them.
"Your father always enjoyed playing a piece on the banjo
for me, always a long one, and at the beginning of our marriage,
I could stand it. Then as time passed, he was no longer satisfied
with just plunking out a piece once, but immediately after finishing
it, he would plunk it again in several different keys.
"Then I would get it with variations and countermelodies
woven in…but still the same piece. He would wind up by plunking
it behind his back in a sort of contortionist's grip. One night
he actually gave the finale while swinging by his knees from a
trapeze he had strung up between the sliding doors.
"If any more loathsome instrument than the five-string banjo
has ever been invented during the entire history of music, I have
yet to hear of it. I thought I had suffered from that miserable
thing for the last time in my life, but you can't get away from
heredity! So tune up your banjo, then go down to the corner and
get me some poison."
- "Will pick for food." --Grateful Dudes Bluegrass Band
- You know why I wear my banjo strap around my shoulder? Because
I don't want it around my neck…
- What is the difference between a newly graduated banjo player's
résumé, all the banjo songs, and a can of Alpo
dog food? The can of Alpo has content.
- What's the difference between a banjo and a lawnmower?
You can tune a lawnmower.
- What is the difference between grapes and a banjo?
You take off your shoes to stomp on grapes.
- What is the difference between a banjo and a chainsaw? The grip.
- What do banjo players use for birth control?
- How is lightning like a banjo player's fingers?
Neither one strikes in the same place twice.
- "There's nothing I like better than the sound of a banjo,
unless it's the sound of a chicken caught in a vacuum cleaner…"
"How about 'Softly, as I leave you'?"
"You won't need a key--just ring the doorbell when you get
back from the pawn shop."
"Don't your vocal chords hurt when you sing like that? They're
"You're just jealous because show biz is in my blood."
"Right now I'm just concerned that when I smash that banjo
over your head, we won't be able to get the show biz stains out
of the rug." --The Fusco Brothers
- You can play all the banjo songs backwards and they'll still
sound the same!
- "Banjo picker wanted: music knowledge not required."
- You're driving down the street and you see an accordion
and a banjo--which one do you hit first?
The accordion: business before pleasure.
- How is playing the banjo like peeing in a dark suit?
It gives you a warm feeling but no one notices and no one really
- Top five reasons to be a banjo player: (1.) It's obnoxious;
(2.) It's loud; (3.) It's fun; (4.) All those Banjokes; (5.) The
cool "banjo players walk" hunched over from carrying
that heavy thing around on one shoulder all day…
- "Scruggs is OK, but he hasn't any social conscience."
--Sing Out!, 1962.
- How many Banjokes are there?
Only three the rest are true stories…
- How do you keep a banjo player from drowning in a foot of water?
Take your foot off his head.
- Banjo players never get out of line just out of tune…
- Mark Twian's definition of a gentleman: a man that can
play the banjo and don't.
- Know any banjo jokes? Just me…
- What's the difference between a banjo player and a puppy?
If you ignore a puppy long enough it will stop whining…
- Why did the chicken cross the road? She was showing
the opossum & the banjo player the way. 
- How can you tell if a banjo player is well hung? If you can
put two fingers between his neck & the rope…
- Upon hearing from his doctor that he only had six months to
live, a man exclaimed, "But doctor, is there anything
I can do?"
"I'm afraid not." said the doctor. "But, there
is one thing you could try..."
"What, what, I'll try anything..."
"Find yourself a homely girl that plays the banjo and move
"Will that help me live longer?"
"No, but it will make time go by really slowly..."
- I didn't know you could tune one of those things? Only if you're
sharp...if you're flat you've been playing in the street too long...
- What's the difference between a banjo and a helicopter?
You can tune a helicopter.
- What's difference between a banjo and a fish?
You can tuna fish...
- Saint Peter is interviewing newly arrived musicians at the
Pearly Gates. He asked the first musician, "So, what did
"I was first violin with the London Phil Harmonic,"
stated the first musician.
"Fine, you may enter," said Saint Peter. He then asked
the second guy, "What did you do?"
"I was a school band leader," said the second guy.
"Great, you may also enter," replied Saint Peter. Finally,
Saint Peter asked the third guy, "So, what did you do with
"Well," replied the third guy, "I really wasn't
a great musician--I played casual banjo in a bluegrass band. We
mostly played for Barbecues, Barmitzas, and the like..."
"Oh," replied Saint Peter, "Oh, all right, but
go around the back, OK..."
- How can you tell when the banjo player is joking? His lips
- If you took all the banjo players in the country and laid them
end to end...we'd be a lot better off!
- Why don't banjo players get any mail? Because they can't read
- What's the difference between a banjo and an accordion?
The accordion takes longer to burn...
- "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender..."
- These days, having a banjo & fifty cents will only get
you a cup of coffee--to go!
- I don't have to take it [a break] it's in my banjo players
- Bluegrass Police have been known to give Banjo Speeding
Tickets at Bluegrass Clubs and festivals...
- Why was the banjo player staring at the Orange Juice?
Because the label said, "Concentrate."
- Why was the banjo player standing on the roof? Because
they told him the drinks were on the house.
- Foggy Mountain Breakdown is to banjo music as ________ is to
food. Chicken as in, "it tastes just like chicken..."
and "it's just like Foggy Mountain Breakdown but instead
of the Em..."
- A Rabbi and a banjo player are traveling through the country
with their friend from India when their car gets stuck in a ditch.
Stranded, they walk to the nearest farmhouse and knock on the
door. A farmer and his beautiful daughter answer the door. The
farmer says he'll be glad to put 'em up for the night and they
can go for help in the morning. However, there is only room for
two in the house, one of them will have to sleep in the barn.
The Rabbi volunteers and goes off to the barn. A few minutes
later, there is a knock at the door, it's the Rabbi, "I cannot
sleep with pig, it's sacrilege."
Then the Hindu volunteers to sleep with the pig and goes off
to the barn. A few minutes later, there is another knock on the
door, "I cannot sleep with cow, sacrilege."
So, now the banjo player takes his banjo and goes off to sleep
in the barn. A few minutes later, there is a knock on the door--it's
the cow and the pig!!!
- Rick: Uh, how many banjos do you own, anyway?
Pete: One too many.
Rick: How many is that, Pete?
Pete Seeger: Two.
- Why are Vogon's so mean? They're just hacked off 'cuz you can't
fret a banjo with tentacles. That's the real reason they invented
Vogon Poetry. [Vogon's are the aliens that destroy Earth in the
sci-fi classic, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Their
poetry is another form of torture.]
- Banjos are to music what Etch-a-Sketch is to art.
- Air Earl: Earl Scruggs is an avid aviator. That's where
Groundspeed came from, as opposed to "airspeed."
I hear Boeing is coming out with an Earl Scruggs model with the
tail piece missing cause "that's the way Earl did it..."
- If your car is sliding out of control, and you have the choice
of running over a banjo player or an accordion player, which one
should you choose? Either one. You can always get the other on
the second pass
- How can a banjo player make money?
Hang out your "Pay or I Play!" sign.
- "The 5-string banjo is a noble and mellifluous creation;
it comes in a variety of shapes and styles, is played in a variety
of different ways, and has almost entirely replaced the harp
as the chosen instrument of the angels."
- A banjo player went running up to a cop and said, "Arrest
that kid, he just changed one of my tuning pegs." Cop said,
"Oh, come on, you can fix that." Banjo player says,
"Maybe, but he won't tell me which one!"
- What's the definition of a minor second?
Two banjo player's playing the same note!
- Nekkid as a Jaybird
Nekkid as a Jaybird,
Flyin' through the winter snow.
Didn't have a stitch on,
So he hung that banjo low.
The blue Kentucky moon,
Turned his moons a blue-ish glow.
And made everybody grateful,
The feller didn't play dobro.
- Driving down a long lonesome highway through the dessert on
his way West, a weary traveler sees a lone female hitchhiking
by the side of the road and slows to a stop to pick her up. She
smiles, grabs her banjo, jumps in, and they're off. Then all of
a sudden she yells, "Stop the car!" He slows the car
to a halt under the shade of a big tree she jumps out of the car
grabs her banjo, climbs up in the tree, throws off all her
clothes, and starts playing the Star Spangled Banner. Have
you heard this one before? No!?! What! You never heard our National
- How do you get the banjo player out of the tree? Cut the rope.
- A Russian, a Cuban, and two Americans, (a guitar player and
a banjo player) were sharing a compartment on a train. The Russian
in an attempt to impress the other passengers says, "In Russia
we have so much vodka that we can afford to throw it away."
He then throws a bottle of fine Russian vodka out the window.
In a spirit of one-upmanship, the Cuban replies, "In Cuba,
we have so many fine cigars that we can simply throw them away."
And the Cuban proceeds to throw a box of the finest Cuban cigars
out the window. Not to be outdone, the guitar player says nothing,
he just stands up and throws the banjo player out of the window...
- A banjo player and a guitar player both fall at the same time
from a balcony in the top of a skyscraper. Which one hit the ground
first? The guitar player-the banjo player will have to stop and retune
at least once on the way down.
- What's the difference between a banjo player and a bucket
of manure? The bucket.
- Why don't banjo players get to take breaks between sets?
It takes them too long to retune.
- There once was a picker named Bruno
Who said, "There's one thing I do know
Guitars are fine
And mandolins divine
But banjos are numero uno!"
- Why don't banjo pickers like to go to the beach? Because cats
keep trying to bury them.
- What do banjo players and bottles of beer have in common?
They're both empty from the neck up.
- Sign on a street near a bluegrass festival: "Drive Safely--Don't
kill a child." To which someone added, "Wait for a banjo
- "Like the banjo itself, whose twang can clear clogged
sinuses and remove stubborn wallpaper, the mountain music is an
acquired taste." --Smithsonian
- What does a sperm and a banjo player have in common?
They both have one chance in about a million of becoming a human
- How is banjo playing like a courtroom trial? Everyone
is relieved when the case is finally closed!
- Why was the banjo player walking his kids to school everyday?
Because they're in the same grade.
- A bluegrass band is on their way back from a gig South of the
border when they get arrested for playing a banjo after dark.
The judge quickly sentences them to death. At dawn the next morning
the band finds themselves looking at the business end of a firing
squad. "Ready, Aim,..."
"Earthquake!" yells the guitar player which distracts
the guards long enough so he can jump over the wall to freedom.
"Flood!" yells the mandolin player who jumps over the
wall to freedom.
Now the banjo player is starting to catch on.
"Fire!" yells the banjo player as loud as he can...
- Banjo Tuning is an oxymoron...
- How can you make a million bucks as a banjo player?
Start with two million!
- Why do they let banjo players play in pizza parlors?
Because pizza is the only food that you can taste
over the noise.
- "Lawyers are bigger jokes than banjos!"
- A bluegrass band arrives early for their concert. The banjo
player jumps right up on the stage and begins his tuning ritual.
Ever so carefully he adjusts his tuning pegs to the flashing lights
on his high-tech "TV set" digital electronic tuner that
he has his banjo plugged in to. An hour later, he takes a five
minute break when the pizza arrives, quickly returning to his
banjo to continue tuning.
A passing stage hand asks the banjo player, "How come you
spend so much time tuning? The last band that played here showed
up five minutes before the show, tuned up, and started playing.
Why do you spend so much time with that high tech tuner?"
"Well," says the banjo player, "I guess some people
just don't care..."
- A beautiful maiden is talking a stroll around the castle when
she hears, "Hey! Down here!" Looking around, she sees
a small frog down by the moat and picks it up. "Hi-I'm really
a banjo player but an evil witch has put a spell on me and turned
me into a frog. If you would kiss me I can return to my normal
self and we can live happily ever after..." The beautiful
maiden smiles and puts the frog in her purse. "Hey! Aren't
you going to kiss me?" shouts the frog. "No way-a talking
frog is worth a lot more than a banjo player!"
- How do you define an optimist?
A banjo player with a beeper!
- Bumper Sticker: On the eighth day, God created Banjos!
- Sign in store window: "Banjo For Sale-cheap, no strings
- Always remember that the Banjo Player is the Fiddle Player's
best friend; without him the fiddle would be the most hated instrument
- What's the difference between a banjo and a lawnmower?
Your wife gets upset when the neighbors borrow the lawnmower and
don't return it.
- How do you make a chain saw sound like a banjo? Turn
- The difference between a banjo and a Banjo:
A banjo is a round thing with a neck and an even number of strings
that some guy on a stool (or worse) plays with a little bitty
ol pick and cranks out tunes like "Wait Till the Sun Shines
Nellie" and "Alabammy Bound" and "Good Bye
my Coney Island Baby" on; and it's related to a Banjo in
about the same way that Crazy Otto is related to Scott Joplin.
A Banjo has an odd number of strings, and a wooden thing on the
back to keep the sound from getting out too much, and typically
comes with an attachment named something like "Ralph"
or "J.D." or "Earl" that makes the noises
come out. An unbiased ear can always tell a Banjo from
a banjo just by listening; and if a song's got a Banjo in it,
by gum it's Bluegrass...
- The only difference between a banjo and cocaine is that you
can't fit a banjo up your nose.
- How many bluegrass musicians does it take to screw in a light
bulb? It doesn't matter as long as everyone gets a turn!
- "I don't like her--she makes me feel stupid!"
"The banjo player in Deliverance makes you feel stupid..." --Herman's Head.
- What is the range of a banjo? About 10 meters if you throw
it hard enough.
- A lady calls the home of her favorite bluegrass band and asks
if the banjo player is going to play with them at the concert
tonight. "I'm sorry lady the banjo player was killed in a
car crash late last night," the mandolin player reports.
However, every night she would call and every night she would
get the same answer. Finally, the mandolin player says, "What
do you want?!? You keep calling and bothering us every night--I
told you the banjo player is DEAD!"
"I know you're banjo player died," she says, "I
just love to hear you say those words..." A soft cackling
laugh was heard off in the distance before she hung up the phone...
- A bluegrass band convicted of International terrorism and condemned
to die in a small Third World country is given one last request.
The banjo player, without thinking, shouts out, "If I must
die for my country, my last request is to play FMB one last time!"
The mandolin player shouts, "then my last request is that
you kill me first..."
- Definition of mixed emotions: your banjo player riding
over a cliff on your brand new Harley...
--Garrison the mandolin player from Picket Line.
- Do you know why the Post Office had to stop producing their
new commemorative Banjo Player Stamps?
Because people didn't know which side to spit on...
Bumper Sticker: "Old Banjo Players don't die; they just...
- ...stop fretting.
- ...stop resonating.
- ...get unstrung.
- ...get restrung.
- ...get picked on.
- ...take a break.
- ...tune out.
- ...cross the bridge, start fretting, & become nutty." --Thanks Antoinette!
- A drowning man sees an out-of-tune banjo player, an in-tune
banjo player, and Santa Claus walking by on the shore,
who should he yell to for help? The out of tune banjo player of
course-the others are figments of his imagination...
[See also #38 & #39.]
- Why is the banjo the most important instrument in a bluegrass
(a.) Every band needs someone to make fun of.
(b.) Every jam session needs someone to drown out the inevitable
walk-up guitar player who can't pick worth a dang.
(c.) Without a banjo, a bluegrass band becomes just another collection
of individuals looking for the meaning of life...
--Steve Spurgin, bass player with California.
- "Don't shoot me--I'm only the banjo player..."
- A banjo player, an accordion player, and a politician jump
off the Eifel Tower, who gets saved first? We all do!
- "Can I play my banjo now?!?" Shutup!!!
- I wrote a song, but I can't read music so I don't know what
it is. Every once in a while I'll be listening to the radio and
I say, "I think I might have written that."
- How can you break a banjo players fingers? Punch him in the
nose [while he's picking...]
- How many banjo players does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one--he thinks the world revolves around him...
- "Keep pickin' that & it'll never heal." [bgrass-l]
- "A man who plays the banjo has got it made--it never interferes
with any of his pleasures in life." --Stringbean
- What's the first thing you know?
That Jed's a millionaire!
- A banjo player was so poor he couldn't afford lessons so his
friends chipped in and got him banjo lessons for his birthday.
They sent the greatest banjo teacher that every lived to his house.
The teacher knocked on the door and the guy answered. "I'm
here to give you Super Playing Abilities!" Said the banjo
teach. "I'll take the soup, I haven't had dinner yet..."
said the banjo player... [Soup or Playing abilities...]
- Three surgeons were discussing their favorite types of patients.
The first said she enjoyed operating on Italians. Why? Because
of all the olive oil they consume, their internal parts are well
lubricated and nothing sticks to other parts. The second said
he preferred working on Germans. Why? Because they are extremely
organized and neat people. All their innards are logically laid
out and labeled, like a medical textbook, making the surgeon's
job that much easier. The third said that while she liked operating
on Italians and Germans, Banjo players were her favorite. Why?
Because they have only two parts, a mouth and an anus, and they're
completely interchangeable. [Was a lawyer joke.] Disclaimer: not
meant to offend Italians or Germans.
- How many bass players does it take to screw in a light bulb?
- Our hero was walking around Ventura and after he had an In-and-Out
burger, he happened upon a little antique shop, so he went in
and took a look around. Way up on a high shelf he saw a little
brass mouse figurine, and he really liked it. He asked the owner
how much it was, and the guy said, "It's $50 for the mouse,
and $100 for the story that goes with it." Well, our hero
didn't care about any old story, he just liked the little brass
mouse, so he paid the guy $50 and walked out with the mouse in
a brown paper bag. As he was walking home, he noticed the figurine
was hollow with two little holes. Holding it up to his mouth,
it made a melodious whistle. No sooner that he started, he was
being followed by three little mice. When he stopped, they stopped.
When he turned left, they turned left, et cetera. "Whoa,
this is creeping me out," he thought. As he walked, the mice
were joined by more mice, until our hero looked like the Pied
Piper. He started to run, and he wound up on a pier over the Pacific
Ocean [he's in Ventura, remember?] All the mice in town are right
behind him. He is so freaked out that he throws the bag with the
brass mouse into the water, and all the little mice jump after
it, fall into the ocean, and drown. "Man, this is weird!"
he says. He goes back to the antique store, and the owner doesn't
seem surprised to see him. "Ahhh, you've come back to hear
the story!" he says to our dilapidated hero. "No, man,"
says he, "I was just wondering if you have any little brass
- Old Lad by Hal Koons, American Banjo Fraternity
If you never tune the pool old thing
Nor ever change a worn out string
If your jaw is slack and head is too
There's only one thing for you to do.
Hang your banjo on the kitchen wall
Nail it tight so it will never fall
Yank off your shoes and hoist your sox
Flop down in front of the idiot box.
Join all the millions of other boobs
Whose eyes are glued to the TV tubes
Stick there until your natural hue
Turns from pretty pink to sickly blue.
The banjo is not for you, old lad
With you it's merely a passing fad
Far better for you to haunt the telly
Than squeeze a banjo against your belly!
- A banjo player was sitting with a bunch of friends in a bar
in the Bronx one night back there in the twenties, when someone
came around taking up a collection to pay the funeral expenses
of an impoverished accordionist. [This was necessary because ripsnorting
funerals are the most important events in the lives of us Irish,
if the preposition "in" is acceptable when applied to
the star of the occasion.] The banjo player didn't happen to hear
what the collection was about, and when the cigar box came around
to him, he asked the man next to him what it was for. "Oh,
they want a dollar to bury a box-player," he was told. The
banjo player dug a bill out of his pocket. "Here's two dollars,"
he said, "bury two of them."
- Don't tell my mom I'm a banjo player.
She thinks I'm a piano player in a whorehouse.
- How can you get six banjo players to play in harmony?
Only give one of them a banjo!
What do you get when you cross a chicken and a banjo player?
- a chicken that can pluck itself.
- a banjo omelet.
- finger pickin good.
- a chicken that delivers itself in a Dominoes pizza delivery uniform.
- a joke that won't fly.
- What does the banjo player says when he gets to his gig?
Would you like fries with that sir?
- How are banjo players and bowling balls alike?
They both end up in the gutter eventually...
- What's worse than a banjo player? Two banjo players.
What's worse than two banjo players? nothing.
- What has 16 legs & 3 teeth ?
The front row of a banjo workshop.
- Never try to teach a pig to play the banjo--it's a waste of
time and it annoys the pig. A pig is too smart to waste his time
that way anyway.
- Why do banjo players like family reunions?
It's a great place to pick up girls...
- "When I grow up I want to be a banjo player" says
little Johnny. "I'm sorry dear," says his mother, "you'll
have to make up your mind. You can't have both--you can either
grow up or be a banjo player..."
- Life is like a banjo--what you get out of it depends on how
you play it.
- Man walk into a bar: "Hey bartender I got a new banjo
joke for you!" "See that black belt on the wall kid?
That's mine, I'm a banjo player and I ain't got much sense of
humor. See that guy over at the table? He's my cousin. He's a
banjo player and he ain't got much sense of humor. And this here
is Bubba." The man looks over at the large, tatooed figure
on the bar stool in a black leather Hell's Angel's jacket. "Bubba's
a banjo player too and he doesn't take kindly to criticism. Are
you sure you want to tell your banjo joke in here?" "Well
not if I'm gonna have to explain it three times!!!"
- A guy walks into a bar, and goes up to the bartender and says
"Hey, I just heard the funniest banjo joke, want to hear
it?" Bartender: [Pointing at the wall behind the bar] "You
see that Black Belt? Well, that's mine for karate, and I play
the banjo. [Pointing to the end of the bar.] You see that burly
guy in the tank top with all those muscles? Well, that's my brother,
and he plays the banjo. [Pointing to a table.] You see
that Hell's Angel over there with all the black leather and the
spiked collar? Well, that's my cousin and he plays the
banjo. Now, do you still want to tell a banjo player joke
in here?" Guy: "Hell, no, not if I have to explain it
- What does the banjo player mutter to himself in between tunes?
"Thumb, index, middle..."
- Did you hear that they've isolated the gene for banjo playing?
It's the first step to a cure!
- A government agency developed a new computer system that supposedly
could carry on an appropriate conversation with a human based
on the human's IQ. To test it out, they brought in several folks
with varied IQs. The first had an IQ of 180. The computer began
discussing the theory of relativity, the Big Bang, & various
other things of that sort. The human turned out to be a rocket
scientist. The next person had an IQ of 150. The computer talked
with her about the UN, Bosnia, the current political situation
in the Middle East, et cetera. She turned out to be a political
scientist. The next fellow had an IQ of 50. The computer said,
"Hey, what kind of banjo strings do you use?"
- A banjo player wins the lottery: "Will all this newly
acquired wealth change your life in any way?" "Nope,
I'm gonna keep playing gigs until the money runs out..."
- Million dollar guarantee: you give us a million dollars and
we'll play any song, guaranteed.
- What's the difference between a banjo player and a foot
massager? A foot massager generally bucks up the feat...
- How does Dan Quail spell banjo: "ban-joe" just like
- Three high rise construction workers are eating lunch, one
of which is a closet banjo player, of course. "If I get a
bologna sandwich in my lunch again tomorrow, I'm gonna jump!"
they each exclaim one after another as they open up their lunch
pails sitting on a steel girder high atop the half finished building.
The next day, one by one each opens their lunch. Sure enough the
banjo player has another bologna sandwich & jumps. "Wow!
I really feel sorry for the poor guy..." "Don't feel
sorry for him, he makes his own lunch!" The two shrug &
eat his lunch too as a crowd gathers down below...
- "I learned this song for my wife. She knows I have two
loves [her & my banjo]. She made me give up my truck. She
got tired of riding in the back when it rains. Banjos rust, you
- Guy goes through customs with a banjo case. The inspector nervously
asks the man to set the case on the table. Sweating, the inspector
uses a long stick to slowly open the case. He sighs a sign of
relieve when the contents reveal a machine gun and miscellaneous
explosives. "Pass! For a minute there, I thought you had
- "If you enjoyed our concert, please drive carefully on
your way home, we need all the fans we can get. If you didn't,
who are we to tell you how to drive?!?"
- How do you improve the aerodynamics of a banjo player's car?
Remove the Domino's Pizza sign from the roof.
- Hear about the Banjo Sweepstakes? First prize is a week at
Banjo Camp. Second prize is two weeks at Banjo Camp!
- banjo player: "When I die, I want to leave the
world a better place."
guitar player: "Don't worry, you will."
Banjoid: Banjo-Ukes, Mando-Banjos, et cetera.
Banjineering: building banjos; banjo makers.
Banjozoology: the study of the strange critters that play banjos.
Banjophile: what you use to build banjos.
Banjophonics: what people who listen to bluegrass get hooked
on. [Does anyone else get that stupid commercial?]
Banjopourri: [French; banjo + of pourrir, to rot] a stew,
mixture, medley, miscellany, or anthology of banjos. Coined from
Banjo Hitter: A baseball player who hits like he's using
a banjo for a bat...
Banjo Moralist: People that believe there is a right and
wrong way to play a banjo and go around telling you about it.
Banjo Police: Tend to go around giving Bluegrass Speeding
Tickets or citations for noodling.
Noodling: When one or more banjo players start playing
seemingly random parts of different songs at the same time with
no attention to rhythm. Usually in a vain effort to remember how
the song goes real quick before their cue.
Stealth Banjo Player: doesn't have a clue as to how the
song goes--tries to hide behind other musicians.
Symbolic Bass: got volunteered to play bass in the band
but doesn't want to break a fingernail.
Zombiegrass: picture a banjo picker standing straight faced
under a large cowboy hat.
"On the other hand, the banjo has a positive musical charm
in the country. Here we can see that it fits the surroundings.
Its half barbaric twang is in harmony with the unmechanical
melodies of the birds."
--Philadelphia Music and Drama, 1891
I started collecting banjo jokes in August of 1990 while preparing
for the Julian Banjo, Fiddle, Guitar & Mandolin Contest. Summertime
is the perfect weather for jamming. The New Expression music store
had their annual camp out to start the summer off and by August,
I hit every bluegrass club meeting in greater San Diego County.
Then one night it happened, I was invited to a jam at a friend's
house so I grabbed my banjo and a strawberry pie, called another
banjo player and invited him to join us and was off. Well, there
were so many banjo players at the jam that night that one of the
bass players started with the banjo jokes (some of which sound
a lot like recycled lawyer jokes.)
I tried to forget them and failed so I started writing them down
but my attempts to regain my sanity were in vain. At least with
this I can practice getting the jokes right or just call them
off by number. My quest for the perfect banjo joke had begun.
The consequences of this have far outreached any expectations
I could have had at the time.
At every concert, Bluegrass Club meeting, Julian, and New Expression
banjo workshop since I have eagerly interrogated the other banjo
players and bluegrassers for new jokes.
I asked the band at the pizza parlor before they went on and
they started telling jokes in between songs. By then I knew all
the answers and my name was becoming synonymous with banjo jokes!
I posted my jokes to the folk music and humor news groups of
the Usenet electronic computer network which is sent around the
world via the National Science Foundation Internet computer network
and got a reply from banjo pickers from as far away as England
These jokes go out to the members of the SlowJam and end up in
the North County Bluegrass & Folk Music Club newsletter which
goes out and ends up…this is great I get people mailing me
banjo jokes from all over the place.
I sent a copy of my joke collection to the Bluegrass Special
and the DJ read some on the air for anyone who was awake on Sunday
night at 11:24 pm. It was finals week and it really made my day
to hear my name on the radio.
People have started to recognize me at bluegrass jams around
town as "the guy with all the dumb banjo jokes."
#1 down in the bluegrass crossword puzzle in the June 1991 issue
of the San Diego Bluegrass Club newsletter says "Darrell
Reich always has a new one. (two words)" [nine letters.]
#1 across is "That high lonesome sound.…"
I usually start jamming with the joke of the week to warm up.
One of the nicest compliments I've gotten is when someone told
me, "Hey Darrell, I thought you just carried that thing [my
banjo] around and told jokes all day but you're actually pretty
good!" [at playing the banjo not telling jokes.] I had just
told all my jokes and then jumped in with Whiskey Before Breakfast,
the song I picked to play at Julian that year.
The critics [non-banjo players] say, "you would have to
be a banjo player to enjoy these jokes-I'm sure you and the boys
are still laughing…" and it's true fer sure!
So, this is it, my ever growing list of 271 banjo jokes, The
Canonical List, numbered and illustrated* complete with preface,
disclaimer, dedication, glossary, epilogue, and appendices, perfect
to just stuff in your case so you'll never be without a comment
on stage or at a jam. Even by yourself--you'll always have a reason
to smile. Enjoy. Keep those cards and letters coming! I finally
graduated from UCSD and got a Real Job. I've been practicing my
banjo at lunch under a tree in the parking lot. If I had to do
it all over again, I'd make the same mistake….
* The illustrations were removed to protect the copyrights of
the cartoonists--they were also laborious to duplicate. All of
this lives on my computer so it can be constantly updated.
"de banjo joke mon"
8044 Hemphill Drive
San Diego, California 92126-3434
Banjo-Bachelor-Party-Pad: (619) 566-6278
Banjoke hotline/work voice mail: (619) 625-2034
fax: (619) 625-2021
Appendix A: 1991 Season and Bag Limits on Banjo Players
1. Any persons with a valid hunting license may harvest banjo
2. Taking of banjo players with traps or deadfalls is permitted.
The use of currency as bait is prohibited.
3. Killing of banjo players with a vehicle is prohibited. If
accidentally struck, remove dead banjo player to the roadside
and proceed to the nearest car wash.
4. It is unlawful to chase, herd, or harvest banjo players from
snow machine, hay wagon, helicopter, or aircraft.
5. It shall be unlawful to shout "JAM", "BLUEGRASS",
or "FREE PIZZA" for the purpose of trapping banjo players.
6. It shall be unlawful to hunt banjo players within 100 meters
of Jeep or Ford Dealerships.
7. It shall be unlawful to use drugs, cute girls, $100 bills,
or banjo PA system sales to attract banjo players.
8. It shall be unlawful to hunt banjo players within 200 meters
of acoustic music stores, bluegrass club meetings, parking lot
picking sessions, pizza parlours, or Radio Shack stores.
9. If a banjo player is appointed to a government position of
senior responsibility, it shall be a felony to hunt, trap, or
10. Stuffed or mounted banjo players must have a state health
department inspection for AIDS, rabies, and hoof-and-mouth disease.
11. It shall be illegal for a hunter to disguise himself as a
reporter, drug dealer, female banjo player, pizza delivery person,
talent scout, girl scout, sheep, illegal provider of copyrighted
music, bookie, or tax accountant for the purpose of hunting banjo
yellow bellied sidewinder 2 reputable banjo players Extinct
two faced banjo players 1 banjo joke teller 2
back stabbing frailer 1 brown nose picker 1
big nosed singer 3 tab pirate 2
DR: 09.22.91 "a-ha-ha"
Appendix B: ten easy steps to better banjo playing…
The Doc Stock Banjo Method or Any jerk can play the banjo so why not you too?
by Jim Rosenstock
Lesson 1: Beat It!
The most common mistake of the beginning banjo player is to play
too gently. True, musical instruments require great care and special
handling, but banjos should not be confused with these.
There are three basic licks that are used in playing the banjo:
the hit (abbreviated h in tablature), the harder hit (H), and
the BEAT (B). Learn these three licks, and soon you'll be able
to play anything!
REMEMBER--Hit 'em again, hit 'em again, HARDER, HARDER!
Lesson 2: Stage Presence
A dignified stage presence will do more than anything else to
create the impression that you are a serious, professional musician.
This is to be avoided at all costs--you have a reputation to maintain,
after all! While playing on stage, you should: (1.) slouch, (2.)
drool, (3.) pick nose, (4.) bump fiddler, (5.) cross eyes, (6.)
pour beer on self, and/or (7.) stare off into space. The more
you can do at once, the better.
Lesson 3: Tuning your banjo
Musicians make a very big deal about "getting in tune."
Fortunately, you're a banjo player, and therefore need not be
so hung up. There are three basic ways to tune a banjo:
(1.) With a tuning fork: Tap the fork on a hard surface. Listen
to the clear bell-like tone. Make sure none of your strings duplicate
(2.) With an electric tuner: Tap the tuner on a hard surface.
Continue as with method (1).
(3.) With a fiddle: Tap the fiddle on a hard surface. Continue
Lesson 4: Tunes and Tablature
It's a well-kept secret that there are really only four tunes
in old-time music: the G Tune, the A Tune, the D Tune, and the
C Tune. It's an even better-kept secret that these four tunes
sound exactly the same.
Tablature is a simplified form of musical notation used by musicians
to preserve music on paper. AVOID ALL TABLATURE--you will get nowhere
as a banjo player by imitating musicians.
Lesson 5: Drugs & Banjo Playing
Just say, "Why not?" [refer to page 1 and Appendix
Lesson 6: Playing with Musicians
Playing with musicians is always scary for the beginning banjo
player. You should not be intimidated, though, because musicians
like to have a banjo player or two around. Even the most mediocre
group of musicians will sound great by contrast when a banjo player
is added. So get in there and start jamming!
Lesson 7: Banjo Paraphernalia
A capo allows the banjo player, once out of tune in one key, to
quickly be out of tune in any other key.
A case protects your banjo from abuse, except when it is being
played. This is really unimportant, but where else can you put
all your cool bumper stickers?
A dog will follow a banjo player around and keep everyone uncertain
as to which is responsible for the odor.
Beer is the experienced banjo player's favorite liquid to spill
on the dance floor, dancers, and/or musicians. Sometimes it is
filtered through the kidneys first.
Lesson 8: Name That Tune
As mentioned previously, there are only four tunes, and they all
sound the same. It is definitely uncool, however, to let on in
public that you know this, so here's a list of titles for The
Tune: Turkey in the Straw, Bug in the Taters, Paddy on the Turnpike,
Fire on the Mountain, Billy in the Lowground, Drugs in the Urine
Sample, Christ on a Crutch, Monkey in the Dog Cart, Logs in the
Bedpan, Ducks in the Millpond, Pigeon on a Gate Post, Water on
Lesson 9: Three Myths Dispelled
Myth Number 1: It takes hard work and talent to play the
Fact: The only talent most banjo players have is a talent
for avoiding hard work.
Myth Number 2: You can make good money playing the banjo.
Fact: People will frequently pay you much better money
Myth Number 3: Your banjo will make you friends wherever
Fact: This is only true if you never go anywhere.
Lesson 10: The Universal Banjo Tune
h = hit it! H = hit it harder! B = beat it!
This article was reprinted from the February 1990 issue of The
Daily Clog, Julie Mangin, editor. 12 issues for $8.00. 95 East
Wayne Avenue, Apartment 312; Silver Spring MD 20901; (301) 495-0082.
Appendix C: Telling jokes by the numbers…
A well-known tabloid reporter went to the Annual Banjo Joke Convention
to report on it for her newspaper. Part of the convention was
a joke competition. The first comedian came out and said, "Number
57." The crowd burst out laughing.
The next comedian walked on stage and said, "36." A
round of laughter gripped the audience. Some of the people around
the reporter even fell out of their chairs. Another one came out
and said, "42." The chuckling lasted for minutes.
The confused reporter turned to the person seated next to her
and asked, "I don't get it. Why are they just saying numbers?"
The guy replied, "Well, we know all the jokes by numbers,
so all the competitors have to do is give the number."
The next banjo player came out and said, "Number 103."
Silence. Not even a guffaw…
The reporter asked, "What happened?"
"Some people just don't know how to tell a joke."
The next comedian came out and said, "Number 254."
The audience erupted with raucous laughter. More hysterics than
any of the previous comedians.
The reporter asked, "What happened! What happened?"
The banjo player could barely get the words out he was laughing
so hard it hurt, "That was a joke we'd never heard before..."
Appendix D: Banjo Exorcist Available
Enjoyment?!? Banjos are cranky, loud, obnoxious, hard to get in
tune, impossible to keep in tune, hateful beasts. Yeah, I play;
used to do it pretty well, too. I'd describe the experience, when
it's right, as transcending mere enjoyment; and when it's wrong-pure
agony, but it's still something I have to do, must do, am compelled
to do, driven by unseen (evil?) spirits. Who says the fiddle is
the devil's only box? Banjo playing is not for the faint-hearted...nor
is banjo listening. --name withheld
Announcing a New Service: Banjo Exorcism
Ashamed of your affliction? Tired of hiding banjo tabs under your
bed? Afraid you'll suddenly say "gum stump" at a socially
inopportune moment? For a very low fee I will fly into your hometown
and rid you of your compulsion to play banjo.
See breakdown of costs below:
Lodging at Finest Hotel in Area (2 nights) 300.00
Limousine to your house 125.00
Scientific demonstration of why the banjo can't 67.00
Chicken feathers 14.00
Extraction of old strings 223.45
Hypnotism tape 99.00
Posture correction 1,356.00
Ceremonial bending of the finger picks 220.00
Frank Sinatra Tapes 230.00
Course Book: Women Who Hate Men Who Love the Banjo 39.95
Special Mantra which turns the syllable "Earl" into 19.00
Follow up phone calls 200.00
Professional Gratuity 95.99
Another more economical & practical solution overheard at a festival:
Make the First Prize in the Banjo Contest something useful--an
icepick and ten free fiddle lessons.
"The Grandfather's Clock was too tall for the shelf so they
remodeled the den…"