Pete Seeger (1919–2014) was a national treasure who had a long and exceptional career as a folk singer and social activist. Overall, he appears on (or is otherwise associated with) an astonishing total of 123 Smithsonian Folkways recordings.
In 1948, Seeger wrote a manual entitled How to Play the 5-String Banjo (originally self-published, the third edition was reprinted in 2013). Then, in 1954, Seeger recorded an instructional album on playing a 5-string banjo. The manual and the recording have influenced aspiring banjo players for generations.
On the album Seeger explains and provides examples of basic tunings, strums, and techniques such as “hammering on” and “pulling off” and other aspects of playing. He covers the basics of a variety of styles, including “frailing,” 3-finger, blues, jazz, Spanish flamenco, and Latin American rumba styles.
Liner notes provide background information, a complete transcript, and musical notation.
Year Released1954 Record LabelFolkways Records Source Archive
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage Copyright
2004 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings / 1954 Folkways Records