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Lesson # 1, April 2002 

By Warren Yates 

The Warren Yates Method of Playing Bluegrass Banjo for Beginners


Build a Washtub Bass with a fingerboard

Yates Banjos
   These lessons are designed to teach, not specific songs, but techniques used in all bluegrass or when playing acoustic instruments.  Hopefully, my lessons will broaden your general knowledge of music as well. Bluegrass is an art that has suffered in popularity until lately; letís give it all the help that we can. Send this letter to a friend and help them to enjoy the wonderful music called bluegrass.

The best piece of information that I can share is: As a computer needs data to work, so does your brain.  The way to program yourself is to listen to music.  Whatever kind of music that you want to learn, pick a song  and listen to it until you are sick of it, then you are programmed.  Maybe that is a little extreme but you get the idea.  You must know what something sounds like in order to reproduce it.  When do I have time? I drive 20 minutes to work and 20 minutes home every day.  Multiply that times five times per week and you'll find that I get to hear my music 3 hours and 20 minutes each week and I don't have to do without anything to do it.  


  How to know if the bridge is in the right location.

This process works with the banjo, mandolin, and guitars with "movable" bridges.

First pick one string; I use the first string. Find the fret that is located in the middle of the strings length. This is sometimes marked with a double dot. When fretted, the note will be one octave higher than when the string is played "open". Now, over that fret we want to "chime" the note. "Chiming" is done by barely touching the string and picking the note, then quickly moving your finger away so that the string can vibrate. This makes a beautiful sound and can be done after a little practice. Now compare the chimed note to the fretted note, they should sound the same. If the fretted note is lower, then the bridge is too far away from the neck. Too high, and the bridge is too close. Adjust until the notes are the same.

Time to play the banjo!  Click here to tune with me.

Try this exercise.

Using the forward roll found on site  letís concentrate on the second string and see what kind of sounds we can make. Start your forward roll and move the fretted position all the way up and down the neck while continuing the roll. Only the second string should be fretted. Listen to my example.

Now lets try doing this on the forth string. The difference here is that we will only go as far as the fifth fret and the pointer finger will float over to the forth string. See if you hear something that could be used in most any song. Listen to my example.


Computer Software

The new "Transcribe!" software allows you to slow CDs down to a 1/2, even 1/4 speed, without affecting the pitch.  It will help you to understand what is going on in the music.    Download a Free 30 Day Trial.   

 Click Here and learn more. 

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 Copyright 2003