From 2007 to 2014, Pete wrote a regular column for Banjo Newsletter, and continued to write occasional columns until 2017. These columns were a mix of topics selected by Pete as well as “Ask Dr. Banjo”, a Q&A banjo/bluegrass advice column. These articles are presented here, searchable by year and key words. There’s lots of good stuff here for banjo players and bluegrass musicians of all skill levels.

Also included are a several stand-alone articles written by Pete, and several written by others about Pete. Enjoy!

Select any year or key word to immediately see the new results. You can also search for any single word, or use quotes to search for a phrase (example: “Joan Wernick”). Scroll down to see sorting options.

Stage fright and playing under pressure

This article is a transcription of a talk at Pete's Banjo Camp, Boulder, CO. Transcribed and edited by Don Nitchie, ... Read More
/ performing, stage fright

Pete Wernick BNL Interview

This article by Bill McKay originally appeared in the September 1996 issue of Banjo Newsletter. For most musicians, mastering a ... Read More

Dr. Banjo Goes to Jam-Grass Fest

The weekend of Sept. 9 and 10 was an interesting and exciting one out at the Planet Bluegrass headquarters in ... Read More
/ electric banjo, flexigrass, gear

Remembering Winnie Winston

I was very surprised and sad to hear from a friend at the recent Merlefest, that my good friend Winnie ... Read More
/ remembrances

Earl Scruggs Tribute

Earl did something miraculous when he started a way of playing the banjo that took advantage of so many ways ... Read More
/ earl scruggs

Loop Exercise Method

I’d like to share with you the method I have used for years to iron out problems in my playing, ... Read More

Prucha’s Elban, and Playing Electric Banjo

My Elban sounds like a “real banjo,” which it is (full 11” head, some cavity created by the resonator, though ... Read More

Find a Lead Singer; Backup Video; The Prewar Sound

I just turned 61 at the end of February, and find myself reflecting on getting older and “taking stock”. I ... Read More

Tough Banjo Love Result: “My breaks are mine”

Duane writes: In BNL this month you mention seeing you run a jam hosted by Steve Martin on your website ... Read More

End Thwonging Forever; New Flexigrass CD

Summer’s about here, perfect timing for a highly useful trick that solves two annoying picking problems: 1. Sweaty Rotating Pick ... Read More
/ banjo picks, flexigrass, gear

Work Less on Instrumentals, More on Singing? The Year of the Melody

Jim from Ohio writes: Inspired by my experience at your jam and banjo camps I have focused more on singing, ... Read More

Sound Bites from Hollywood and West Virginia

The word has gotten around that Hot Rize played at Steve Martin’s wedding, and as with about anything involving Steve, ... Read More

Teachers: Help Your Students More with Videos

When a student hires me to teach, that is, to direct their learning program, I’m sometimes awed by the responsibility ... Read More

Nick Hornbuckle – Part 1

I have admired Nick’s playing since I first heard it on John Reischman’s “Up in the Woods” record in the late 1990s ... Read More

Nick Hornbuckle – Part 2

Nick Hornbuckle: Talking about having some sort of unique sound, I’m a huge fan of clawhammer, and old-time banjo. Some of ... Read More

Jamming Fundamentals: Chord Changing Made Easy

People sometimes wonder why a well-known banjo player/teacher like me has switched from teaching banjo to teaching mostly “bluegrass jamming” ... Read More

Breaking Out of the Intermediate Rut, and Learning to Play in D

Gary from British Columbia asks some great and typical questions: First, I would like to thank you for all the ... Read More

Advice to Young Player

In March of 06 I purchased a banjo flight case from Gary Price of Oklahoma. It was #008. In short, ... Read More

Stepping Into a Group

Jim from Colorado Springs here with an update on my progress. I was invited to play in a group called ... Read More

Banjo Claus Spotted in Eastern Kentucky

For the past several years Joan and I have been invited to perform and teach in Morehead, KY by one ... Read More
/ learn banjo, young players

Ten Repertoires

This summer presents me some good challenges. Between late April and mid-July, I will have been on stage performing no ... Read More

A Jam Skill You Can Use: Hearing Chord Changes

We’re in peak jamming season now, and I hope those of you who bring your banjos to festivals actually take ... Read More

Can’t Find People to Jam With?

Think “no one where I live is into bluegrass”? Maybe you're wrong and don't know it. There may be someone ... Read More

Getting Away from Strict Memorizing and Creating Your Own Solos

Will J. writes: I have been taking banjo lesson for about a year and a half now. My instructor is ... Read More

Productive Practicing

Bill writes: Hey! I’m 53 with a family and work 6 days a week. I’ve been playing for 2 years ... Read More

Back to Basics: Are You a Successful Musician? and Pick Noise

The recent financial meltdown is doing a number on all of us. Everyone’s financial outlook is worse than it was ... Read More

The Year of Good Tone

Lenny asks: How do you define good tone? What are some things to look out for that detract from good ... Read More

Jam Etiquette re Breaks and Choices in Recording Banjo

Patrick writes: I picked up a copy of your jam etiquette flyer. Enjoy your tips a lot – Something is ... Read More
/ ask dr banjo, banjo backup, etiquette, gear

Steve Martin and Ambassadors of the Banjo

Chances are, everyone reading this column has done some work as an Ambassador of the Banjo. We of “Banjoland” are ... Read More
/ steve martin

Let’s Get This Straight: Controversial Topics

This month’s column jumps headlong into some issues where I will rail against “common wisdom” ... Read More

Breaking News! Banjo Goes Mass Media, Media Go Buggy Over Steve Martin

It’s been interesting to watch the extremely rare mass exposure the banjo has been getting lately due to the major ... Read More
/ steve martin

Recommended Summer Banjo Stay-Cation (or Anywhere) Adventure…The Pleasures, Perks, and Lessons of Busking

I’ve been “playing in the street” since I was a teenager, going back to my pre-college summer, at the short-lived ... Read More

Music for the Masses

I along with my Hot Rize compadres will be co-hosting the IBMA Awards Show October 1 at the Ryman Auditorium ... Read More
/ ask dr banjo, steve martin

Not Clutching at Jams

Attendees of last January’s Basic Banjo camp recently exchanged emails about their progress. Keith P. from Maryland wrote: ... Read More

Hot Rize for Public Consumption

I am lucky to have had some neat opportunities in music these days. Along with three banjo camps and six ... Read More
/ banjo tab, hot rize

Get Out of the Rut

Gary from British Columbia asks some great and typical questions: Hi Pete, First, I want to thank you for all ... Read More
/ ask dr banjo, improvising, key of D

Let’s Talk About the Key of D, and Comfort Zone

What better topic for the first column of the year than one that makes a lot of banjo players squirm? ... Read More
/ ask dr banjo, gear, key of D

Beginner Banjo Advice and Good Tone

First, big congratulations to Steve Martin for winning the Bluegrass Grammy! From my research, this is the first time that ... Read More

Tune It Or Die

Yes, that sounds severe. I was taken aback by that catchy phrase on a t-shirt worn by one of the ... Read More
/ ask dr banjo, gear, performing

How to Spend the Least Amount of Time Tuning (and be in tune)

So many fine points to cover about tuning a banjo! Keep your strings changed with some frequency, wipe them with ... Read More
/ etiquette, gear, performing

Secrets – (Shhh , donʼt tell!) Hearing the Tune in a Tab, and the “Secret Sauce” of the Pro Sound

Two pickers writing last week to the Forum on asked me to share “secrets”. Well OK, but then they won’t be ... Read More

The Pro Sound

Zeek writes to the Forum on In ads for your camps I’ve seen mention of segments of your teaching ... Read More

Jam Class Teacher Network; My Take on Tab/Rote Learning

I am proud to announce this month the launch of my Wernick Method Teacher Certified Jam Classes. As you dear ... Read More

Rekindling the Hot Rize Fire; Bulletproofing Your Solos; Rhythm Machine vs. Metronome

October 28 in Berkeley, California, Hot Rize will kick off its first tour in 12 years. The group’s full-time run ... Read More

Finding the Melody Using Chords and Your Voice; Finding Chords Using the Melody; Cleaner Bar Chords

Here’s some advice I gave a fellow who sent me a playing sample to qualify for Advanced Banjo Camp. He ... Read More

Hot Rize and Wichita Lineman, Still on the Line

Last month I was kinda busy during the time I’d usually prepare a column; Hot Rize’s “Berkeley to Berklee” tour, ... Read More
/ hot rize

Tough Love for a Struggling Picker…and Playing the Words of Wichita Lineman

This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of Banjo Newsletter, and is also available as an easy-to-print PDF ... Read More

Advice to Non-Singing Banjo Player

Dax is a very talented player in Kentucky, a high school senior. One of these players about whom people say, ... Read More

The Groove, Jam Classes, Skin

Bill writes: I’ve looked all over your site to find information about developing a groove or flow but I can’t ... Read More

“I Am 54 But…”, Drum Machine Report

J.C. from Nebraska writes: Pete… I am very interested in your jam camps which are geared toward those with no ... Read More

Jam Skills Checklist; Flag Day Banjo Op; Remembering Carlton Haney

Here we are again, beginning of summer. Are you ready to hit the festivals, do some fun listening, visiting, and ... Read More

Banjo Bullies Needn’t Peel Paint and Other Jam Etiquette Issues

Just last weekend I really wanted to jam and there was a good one going in the campground at our ... Read More

Bill Monroe Centennial and Why to Get There Early

One hundred years ago there was not much pavement in America, no such thing as an old car or a ... Read More

Bill Monroe and the Banjo

The powerful musical force known as Bill Monroe turns 100 this month. It’s hard to believe he’s been gone 15 ... Read More
/ bill monroe, earl scruggs, tony trischka

Jonny Mizzone: Now No One Can Complain About Their “Small Hands”

It’s been an interesting few months lately for the banjo in the media…. A couple of new 5-string stars are ... Read More
/ young players

It’s About Fun and Results… As Soon As Possible: Recommendations from a Lifetime of Banjo Teaching

The following ideas have served my students well since I developed them in the 1960s and 70s. They have been ... Read More

Wernick Method Progress…and How YOU Can Improve in 2012

This month I host my 28th annual Winter Banjo Camps, three weeks of full banjo-immersion in Boulder, Colorado. These are ... Read More

Why Teachers Should Offer Jam Classes

Almost every aspiring musician dreams of playing music with other people. And any way you slice it, bluegrass banjo is ... Read More

The How-To’s of Family Busking …and Advice to Advanced Beginners

Amber Waves is a talented Colorado family band that I started coaching last summer. I met them when one of the teenage ... Read More

Remembering Earl

Everyone has a story about the first time they heard him. When I was 12 or so I was at ... Read More

Doc Watson Remembrance

The passing of Doc Watson seems especially momentous to me. Though his banjo playing was wonderful, he was of course ... Read More
/ doc watson, remembrances

New York Banjo Story

I am excited and honored to be part of an unprecedented tour this fall—the New York Banjo Summit. Béla Fleck, ... Read More
/ bela fleck, pete seeger, tony trischka

What Makes A Banjo Camper Advanced? More NY Notables, and Tab Policy

Ted in Arizona writes: Am I ready for Advanced Class??? Concern: Get there and slow your class down because I’m ... Read More
/ ask dr banjo, banjo tab

The NY Banjo Summit Tour

It’s impressive just to look around and see an array of amazing musicians I’ll be spending the next 11 days ... Read More
/ earl scruggs, performing

Reviews and Resolutions

The Deering folks and I have been allies over the years, and they recently asked if I’d review one of ... Read More

Dealing With Prodigies (“Mental Health is Number 1”), & The All-Europe Jam

Ah youth! I still remember my years as a teenaged musician and how much excitement and energy I had for ... Read More

How To Not Freak Out at the Jam; Clear Pull-offs

Michael from Minnesota writes: I just read your article about stage fright. It describes me so well, I feel you ... Read More

The Groove, and Warming Up for Fast Ones

Pat in Alabama writes: I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing some advice. It’s about warming up. I’m playing ... Read More

Pete Seeger at 94

You’re reading this not long after I’m writing it, September 8, just after a concert of one of my all-time ... Read More
/ bluegrass singing, pete seeger

Some Favorite Advice

I’ve been teaching banjo almost 50 years now. Though most banjo teaching addresses typical technical challenges, I have some pet ... Read More

Holiday Thoughts and Kids and Instruments and Singing in Tune

Holidays can be the best of times, often with families close at hand. Gift-giving is on our minds, with the ... Read More
/ bluegrass singing, young players

21st Century Bluegrass

I’ve noted that some of my fellow BNL columnists run amok at times, discussing non-banjo things. I rarely run amok, ... Read More

Age Related Challenges

Here I am, 71 as of Feb. 25, and still picking the five. The “new Granada” I got in 1988 ... Read More
/ about pete, hot rize, performing

Pete Wernick Looks Back and Looks Ahead

If you got into bluegrass in the 1970s, you probably first became aware of Pete Wernick as half of the ... Read More

It’s About Jamming

I love to jam. Jamming is truly “bluegrass in its most natural habitat”… more than performing (in a circle you ... Read More