Book Review - Earl Scruggs and the 5-String Banjo
First published in 1968, this latest revised and enhanced edition was published in 2002.
Like Earl and his unique style, this book was historic when it was first released and its
significance has not diminished over time. It is a "must have" book for any serious
It has 200 pages of fascinating content, but the main attraction is the collection of
transcriptions of Earl's tunes. There are over 40 note-for-note transcriptions of recordings
of Earl's signature tunes: Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Ballad of Jed Clampett, Dear Old
Dixie, Shuckin' the Corn, The Martha White Theme, Randy Lynn Rag, Reuben, Sally
Goodwin and many more. These are the tunes that inspired generations of bluegrass
banjo pickers - amateurs and professionals alike - to take up the instrument. It is for these
transcriptions that most people purchase the book and - truth be told - even if it was only a
book of banjo tabs, it would still be a bargain. But you get much more than tab. There is a
comprehensive discussion of right and left hand techniques with accompanying
exercises, a history of the 5-string banjo, a detailed article on banjo construction,
autobiographical notes on Earl, discussion on alternate tunings and the use of Scruggs
tuners and more. It can be purchased stand-alone or with an accompanying CD, with
recordings of Earl playing examples from the book.
I had owned an earlier edition, but I gave it as a gift to a good friend in Europe 20 years
ago. At the time (pre-Internet), the book would have been otherwise impossible for him to
acquire. When I saw the new edition, I didn't hesitate to purchase it for my personal
library. I recommend you do the same. Happy picking!
The term "book review" may be a bit too
formal for my purpose. This is simply where I'll
be posting my thoughts and impressions about
products that I've used.
I've probably bought more than my share of
books and DVD's over the years. It's been my
experience that all books have useful
information, however different books are
written for different purposes and audiences.
If I can help an aspiring banjoist with my
thoughts on a particular book or other product,
I'm happy to do so.