5 Best Clawhammer Banjo Books

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Are you hoping to find the best clawhammer banjo books available today? Want to take your clawhammer banjo journey to the next level?

While there are plenty of resources out there for learning the 5-string banjo, it’s sometimes trickier to find great books for clawhammer-style banjo. Although the clawhammer banjo style is a bit older than the 5-string style made popular by Earl Scruggs, there seem to be fewer learning materials out there for it.

Fortunately, we’re here to aid you in your search. In this article, we’ve listed the 5 best clawhammer banjo books for beginners as well as more experienced players.

Top Clawhammer Instruction Materials – Quick View

Clawhammer Style BanjoCheck Price on Amazon
Clawhammer Banjo Primer Book for Beginners (w/ DVD)Check Price on Amazon
Clawhammer Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus 40th Anniversary EditionCheck Price on Amazon
Melodic Clawhammer Banjo: A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Clawhammer BanjoCheck Price on Amazon
Clawhammer Banjo: Tunes, Tips & JammingCheck Price on Amazon

Deciding Between Clawhammer Vs. 5-String Banjo Styles

When learning to play the banjo, there are a lot of different styles that you can choose from.

Clawhammer-style banjo is one banjo playing style, but the Scruggs-style 5-string banjo is actually considered more popular these days. If you’ve recently bought a great 5-string banjo and are a complete beginner, then you’ll want to make your choice carefully.

Generally speaking, you’ll probably want to play Scruggs-style 5-string banjo if you’re aiming to play bluegrass or country. If you’re more interested in old-time music, then you’ll probably want to start by learning clawhammer banjo instead. Clawhammer can also be a good choice for folk genres and for other genres of the banjo as well.

Remember that you can learn both genres on the 5-string banjo, so you don’t have to stick to just one. You can learn clawhammer banjo as a beginner, and then start learning Scruggs-style banjo once you’re more comfortable, or vice versa.

If you’re interested in learning the 5-string banjo, be sure to check out our list of the best 5-string banjo books for beginners now.

Is Using a Book a Good Way to Learn?

These days, there are a lot of different ways to learn a musical instrument or playing style. If you’re thinking about learning clawhammer banjo, you might be wondering if lesson books are useful or not.

For many beginners, instructional books can be very useful. They’re a great tool for beginners who want to learn because they’ll clearly lay out all of the fundamentals of the instrument and the specific playing style. They’ll go step-by-step to help you build one skill at a time.

Unfortunately, some instructional books miss the mark and are hard to understand. However, the top instructional books are very easy to follow and will help you learn the instrument without getting overwhelmed.

Keep in mind that in addition to instructional lesson books, there are other methods of learning the banjo as well. You might want to simply make use of online study materials, watch YouTube lesson videos, or take private lessons.

There’s no wrong way to learn the clawhammer banjo playing style, so be sure to consider your personality when choosing whether to buy a banjo book or use another learning method instead.

Best Clawhammer Banjo Books – REVIEWED

If you can’t wait to start learning the clawhammer banjo, read on. Here are our favorite clawhammer banjo books.

1. Clawhammer Style Banjo

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Best Clawhammer Banjo Book For Beginners

The first book on our list is Clawhammer Style Banjo by Ken Perlman. This is a great book for beginner clawhammer players, but more advanced banjoists will find a lot to love as well. Ken Perlman has done a great job with this book, and this is one of the most comprehensive books on clawhammer banjo out there.

The book is mapped out in an easy-to-follow way and is great for newbies to the instrument. In this guide, Ken Perlman covers all of the essential techniques of clawhammer banjo. This includes right and left-hand positioning, brush techniques, strumming, pull-offs, and sliding. More experienced players will be happy to learn about double thumbing, harmonics, improvisation, and other more involved techniques and skills.

This book is a great option for players and features over 40 different banjo tunes to learn and practice. The banjo book will help you build your skills quickly, and you’ll be playing short tunes after only a few exercises.

2. Clawhammer Banjo Primer Book for Beginners (w/ DVD)

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Clawhammer Banjo Primer Book For Beginners

The Clawhammer Banjo Primer Book is another great option for beginners and includes video and audio instruction as well. If you want the full course on learning the clawhammer banjo, this instruction book will give you all that you need.

Banjo players already experienced with the 5-string banjo will learn a lot in this book, but it’s also a great fit for complete beginners as well. Plenty of techniques are covered in this banjo book including strumming, hammer-ons, pull-offs, reading banjo tablature, and more.

This book features great songs to learn, including favorites such as Cripple Creek and Old Joe Clark.

3. Clawhammer Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus 40th Anniversary Edition

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Clawhammer Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus

Clawhammer Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus is another great clawhammer instruction book and is completely meant for beginner players. Beginners to the clawhammer banjo won’t have trouble following the clear and concise instructions that are in this book.

The original version of the instruction was written in 1973 and is one of the most popular clawhammer banjo books of all time. Now released in a 40th Anniversary Edition, this instruction book has spiral binding and has been updated and improved considerably.

The book teaches you how to play 31 old-time classics including Buffalo Gals, Cluck Old Hen, Cotton-Eyed Joe, Cripple Creek, Poor Wayfaring Stranger, Shady Grove, Wild Bill Jones, and many more.

4. Melodic Clawhammer Banjo: A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Clawhammer Banjo

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Melodic Clawhammer Banjo Instruction Book

Another instruction book by Ken Perlman, Melodic Clawhammer Banjo takes a slightly different approach and focuses on the modern melodic clawhammer banjo style. Beginners will learn to play melodic clawhammer banjo using 50 different tunes that have become favorites over the years.

This book contains arrangements from some notable contemporary players and has information about both basic and more advanced skills. You’ll learn to play all kinds of tunes including fiddle tunes, New England hornpipes, Irish jigs, and a lot more. The clawhammer banjo book has more than 70 illustrations along with plenty of photos and historical notes.

5. Clawhammer Banjo: Tunes, Tips & Jamming

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Good Clawhammer Banjo Instruction Books

Clawhammer Banjo: Tunes, Tips, & Jamming is a comprehensive guide that will serve beginners, intermediate, and experienced players well. The instruction book features 44 old-time banjo tunes for beginners to play and plenty of techniques are covered as well. Those who want to learn how to improvise will learn quite a bit with this book.

Some of the well-known tunes covered in this clawhammer banjo instruction book include Barlow Knife, Cumberland Gap, Leather Britches, Shady Grove, Soldier’s Joy, Texas Gals, and Whiskey Before Breakfast. Also worth noting is that this book comes with an instructional CD as well.

Choosing the Right Instructional Materials for Your Needs

If you want to learn the clawhammer banjo, then it’s important that you take a close look at the best clawhammer banjo books that we’ve listed above. A great clawhammer banjo lesson book can speed up your progress and make your journey of learning the style a much simpler and easier one.

Want to find a great set of strings to use with your clawhammer banjo? Check out our list of great clawhammer strings now.