The Gall!

One of my students related the story to me the other day of a recent business trip he took.  He brought along his banjo and was playing it in the hotel, complete with picks.

As you might suspect, he got a phone call from the front desk: with all due respect as a paying guest, could he kindly stop?

He then enquired as to whether the offended party had objected to his volume, or to the quality of his playing; but alas, the joke was lost on the front desk employee!

That reminds me of when I was learning to play. After that first summer (at home – poor family!) I went back to the dorm at college. I played constantly, with picks, in the dorm. Such gall I had back then!

But I know; if you are driven to do something, you ARE going to find a way, and a little complaining from those around you isn’t so high a price to pay if you are achieving your goals.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, just remember two things:

1 – playing without picks for a day or two isn’t going to ruin your playing. Much longer than that, and it will feel a little odd and clumsy to your fingers when you go back to picks, but it is nothing a day or two of effort can’t remedy.

2 – Use a mute. These are small, massive things you can clamp on to the bridge to dampen the vibrations and mute the volume of the banjo. Similar to a violin mute, I believe some commercially made mutes are available. Failing that, just get two old-fashioned clothes pins and clamp them on to either side of the bridge. That’s what I have always done. Well, except for when I was in college!

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About Phill Gibson

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama where I work as a Systems Engineer and part-time banjo and mandolin instructor. I've been playing various instruments since my teen years. I started mandolin at about age 17 and banjo at 20. I love just about all kinds of music. In terms of banjo styles, I play Scruggs and melodic and am working on becoming more advanced with single string. I'm also working on 4-finger banjo, which is way off the beaten path. I would like to see more jazz techniques integrated into bluegrass situations; counterpoint, especially. So long-term, that's what I'm doing. I'm also very keen on astronomy, ATM (amateur telescope making), birding, christian homeschooling, martial arts, organic gardening and about 30 other distracting hobbies to a (mercifully) lesser extent.
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