Mastering the Steve Martin Banjo: Tips and Tricks from the King of Bluegrass

Are you planning to purchase a new Banjo? If yes, fantastic. But what are the things you require in your new instrument? With the release of new models every month, the range of options can make the task difficult than ever.

Here is a beginner’s guide to buying the Steve Martin Banjo, also known as clawgrass Banjo. After all, banjos come with different features intended for different playing styles.

Steve Martin Banjo

Factors to look for in the Steve Martin Banjo

  1. The type and quality of wood in a Banjo affect its sound. For instance, Maplewood gives a bright and sweet tone. On the other hand, walnut provides warmer tones that are not as bright as the maple ones.
  2. You can also go for Banjos with different numbers of strings. Usually, Banjos come with at least 4-5 strings. Despite that, you can go for a six-stringed Banjo, also known as a Guitar hybrid.
  3. Another essential thing to look for while purchasing the Steve Martin Banjo is the toe ring. Some Banjos have a wooden rim for natural, woody tones, whereas, others have metal rings. Generally, these are made from steel, bronze, or brass and add an extra touch.
  4. You can also look for geared tuners instead of friction tuners in the Steve Martin Banjo. They offer a more stable tuning to your instrument.
  5. Also, ask the seller if he provides extra attachments. Additions like paint fortification and placeholders are also great for beginners.

steve martin banjo

Steven Martin clawhammer Banjo 

When people think about Banjos, the first few names that appear in their minds are clawhammer Banjo, bluegrass, and Steve Martin. He is one of the most prominent figures in the Banjo industry. Moreover, this American musician is also renowned for his acting skills and has won five Grammy Awards.

To everyone’s surprise, Martin is exceptionally well-versed in playing Banjos. He has played Banjos for nearly more than 60 years. Although his most favorite Banjo is clawhammer, he also prefers playing the bluegrass.

His love and adoration for the clawhammer gave it another name, Steve Martin banjo. This Banjo traces its origin back to West Africa. This style of playing was popular around the time of the American Revolution.

To play this, players used a downward strumming motion that creates a rhythm of claw-ham-mer. The player strikes the strings using his index or middle finger and then alternately plucks with the thumb.

In addition to this, you should remember these two golden rules while playing your Steve Martin Banjo. Firstly, your hand should be relaxed. Release the muscle tension for the clawhammer if you wish to avoid frustration and pain.

Secondly, although the strings are set in motion with your hand’s movement, the other hand should be rigid.

Best Steve Martin Banjo 

Now that you know why clawhammer or Steve Martin Banjo is the best, you might be eager to get your hands on it. But do you know what makes it better than others?

Although the bluegrass Banjo is three centuries older than the clawhammer, it is still less preferred than the other. Unlike clawhammer, you do not have to strum the strings together. Instead, the player wears finger picks on his thumb, middle finger, and index finger.

steve martin banjo

Finally, he plucks the strings in the same manner as a classical guitarist.

So which style should you go for?

This question becomes irrelevant if you are keen to learn the instrument. However, if you are still interested in knowing, professional Banjo players often advise beginners to begin with the clawhammer Banjo.

It is easier to learn once you get hold of the basic clawhammer stroke. After that, the rest is a piece of cake.


1. What brand of Banjo does Steve Martin play?

Steve Martin and other prominent Banjo players such as Kevin Nealon and Mark Johnson use the clawgrass Banjos for their performances.

2. How good is Steve Martin on Banjo?

To your surprise, Steve Martin is a legit Banjo player who prefers to compose his work. While some players focus on one style and neglect others, Martin is exceptionally good at the 3-fingered and frailing style.