I received this five-string banjo as a surprise Christmas gift from Granny and have been pickin' away ever since.
It was fairly easy to pick up the basic "feel" of the instrument, since I've been playing guitar now for several years. Of course, the way one approaches tunes is completely different on the banjo than on the guitar.
There seem to be two distinct styles of banjo-playing: Scruggs style and clawhammer style. Scruggs style is probably what most people think of when they think of the banjo and is named after its developer Earl Scruggs. It's used predominately in bluegrass music, and it is very fast. The player also uses finger picks on the index, middle, and thumb fingers to strike the strings. Clawhammer banjo, on the other hand, does not use finger picks. The player uses the back of his fingernails to strike downward on the strings. This style tends to be more laid back than the Scruggs style and is used in old-time fiddle tunes rather than bluegrass.
I've gravitated toward the clawhammer style, mainly because I haven't bought finger picks yet, and I like the mellower sound of using my fingers instead of picks. I think right now, my playing is kind of a hybrid of both! I would like to gain exposure to both styles though and see what best suits me.
A little sound file to liven up your Saturday: The Red-Haired Boy (720KB). This is a fiddle tune that came from Scotland and Ireland and is now also played by old-time musicians as well. It was one of the first tunes I tried picking out when I started playing the banjo. I recorded myself the other evening on banjo, then accompanied it with guitar. Enjoy!