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Updated by Tarun Aarya on Nov 17, 2017
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4 All-time Favorite Banjo Players of the World

Banjos belong to an old family of instruments. The African origin instrument was popularized in the United States by slaves in the 19th century, exported to Europe.

If you are keen to play banjos or have been taking online banjo lessons, you must know about top all-time favorite banjo players of the world.

Source: https://www.banjoteacher.com/free-banjo-lessons

1

Earl Scruggs (1924-2012)

Earl Scruggs (1924-2012)

Undoubtedly Earl is the father of bluegrass banjo. He devised his own brand new three-fingered approach to five-string banjo. He not only drew on his own first-hand musical experiences from his native North Carolina but also integrated musical vocabulary from further fields, most remarkably the New Orleans jazz. Earl, through his ceaseless observation and refinement, successfully devised his heavily stylized musical language. Many of his trademark phrases are categorized by the clever integration of open strings and some techniques, like hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides. Scruggs joined Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys in 1945, after which he first came into the attention of mainstream audiences. However, after a few years he and one of Monroe’s guitarist, Lester Flatt left the band and formed The Foggy Mountain Boys. It is with this bank, Scruggs recorded most of his seminal music.

2

Bill Keith

Bill Keith

Bill Keith was a five-string banjoist who made a noteworthy contribution to the stylistic development of the instrument. In the 1960s, he introduced a deviation of the popular Scruggs style which soon became popular as Keith style. In 1963, Keith became a member of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys after which his style became an important one of many banjoists. Over the years, Keith performed with several well-known musicians, like Clarence White, David Grisman, Tony Trischka, Jim Collier, Jim Rooney, etc. Even at present, Keith style is regarded as modern and progressive in bluegrass banjo playing.

3

Wade Ward

Wade Ward

Wade Ward was a popular American old-time music banjo player. He was renowned for playing clawhammer banjo playing. Ward started performing in public from the age of 26. His first group was the Buck Band With Van Edwards on fiddle and Van’s son Earl on guitar. Ward recorded four solo tunes for the Okeh label in 1925. In the early 1930s, he joined a band, known as Ballard Branch Bogtrotters. Despite his musical gifts and achievements, he made a living as a farmer.

4

Béla Fleck

Béla Fleck

Bela Fleck is one of the most accomplished names among five-string banjo players. Fleck was drawn to the banjo at a younger age when he heard Earl Scruggs playing. At 15, he received the first banjo from his grandfather. He attended the High School of Music & Art, in New York. After graduating, he moved to Boston and joined the group -Tasty Licks with whom he recorded two albums. In 1987, he recorded his solo album Drive, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for best Bluegrass album. Fleck has been nominated for Grammy Awards in more categories than any other musician, including country, jazz, bluegrass, folk, composition, classical and spoken word.

Thought the list is very long, we have mentioned only some of the all-time favorite and renowned banjo players.