Playlist: No Banjo, No Problem: The Best Banjo-less Bluegrass

Whoever said that the banjo is the backbone of bluegrass music has clearly never heard this playlist. Some of the best modern bluegrass cuts—even some of the best modern bluegrass groups—have eschewed the five-string banjo to make music with bluegrass’s other instruments. With established favorites like the Tony Rice Unit and Bill Monroe to modern masters like Dan Tyminski and the Quebe Sisters, check out this playlist of banjo-less bluegrass

David Chernack

David Chernack is a fiddler, mandolinist, and guitarist from the Hudson Valley. Trained as a classical violist, David found out about bluegrass music in high school and despite his best efforts has been unable to kick the habit in adulthood. He picked up mandolin and guitar in college in Boston, where he studied environmental science and music. While not at his day job or pickin' 'grass, David also enjoys birdwatching and wrenching on cars.

3 Responses

  • Dangerous ground David!! I can go along with a little bit of a bluegrass artist’s repertoire not including the ol’ 5 string. Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers and Reno & Smiley all did a little bit of recording and performing sans banjo. I didn’t mind the Tony Rice Unit or Doc Watson being booked on bluegrass festivals or concerts. But the line between “a little bit” and “no part of nothing” is mighty fine. Personally I feel it’s been pushed WAY too far in the effort to make bluegrass into a “big tent, anything goes” business. The ol’ slippery slope, in philosophical lingo. Of course my tongue is slightly in cheek…but just a little bit…like bluegrass without a banjo…

    • The banjo is too lould. Can’t hear the guitar at all when that clanging thing is making noise.

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