Ron Hinkle literally grew up in the four-string banjo world. His Father, Myron Hinkle, was a professional pianist and banjoist who founded the Seattle Banjo Club in 1962, and the Grays Harbor Banjo Band (Aberdeen, WA) in 1968. Myron was a 2009 inductee in the American Banjo Museum’s Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame, in the category of promotion. Ron’s sister, Linda Hall, also plays the banjo.
Ron was given a banjo at the age of six, but it quickly became apparent he was not ready for a banjo career! He came to it on his own at the age of 12; by then, he knew all the banjo band songs in his head. His Dad taught him three chords and let him go! He played the tenor for the first year, then switched to the plectrum, which he still specializes in today.
Ron quit playing for ten years following high-school graduation; he came back to it in 1988 when he became a founding member of the Salt Lake Banjo Club, and became the lead player in the Silver Strings Banjo Bunch in Provo, Utah. Shortly after resuming his playing career, he met the great Buddy Wachter, and his life has never been the same since! Inspired by Buddy’s playing (and with his occasional mentorship), Ron has gradually blossomed into a strong all-around banjoist, playing many different styles.
Ron spent several years on the West Coast Trad Jazz circuit, playing with Joe Banana and The Banana Bunch (later Three Rivers Jazz Band), Pat O’Neal’s Riverboat Jazz Band, Black Swan Classic Jazz Band, and subbing occasionally with Electric Park Jazz Band and various others. He then resumed his active duty military career as an Army Bandsman. In this capacity he traveled the world (34 countries on four continents), singing, and playing the banjo, clarinet, and sax. He also led and trained Trad Jazz bands at every assignment. He retired from Active Duty in November of 2014, and is now resuming his career as a banjoist and banjo teacher.
In 2011, Ron self-published a successful banjo instruction book, The Plectrum Banjo: Beyond Chord Melody; this book led him to the attention of the Clifford Essex Music Co. Ltd, out of Fakenham, England. Working for CE, he has updated and published over 70 pieces of 100-year-old banjo sheet music (with much more on the way), become a popular magazine columnist (BMG magazine), and recently completed and published a major update of their plectrum banjo tutor, Plectrum Playing for Modern Banjoists.
Ron plays several styles, but specializes in Trad Jazz, 1920’s Sing-Along, and Classic Banjo. His heroes are Emile Grimshaw, Harry Reser, Eddie Peabody, Perry Bechtel, and Buddy Wachter. He plays an Ome banjo for jazz, and a Clifford Essex Weaver banjo for classic.
His personal mission statement is:
“To preserve, promote, and advance the four-string banjo through education and public performance.”
Preserve: Ron is an avid student of banjo history, and has taken on the personal goal of mastering and teaching all of the historical styles of plectrum and tenor banjo playing.
Promote: Through his writing, YouTube videos, and public performance, Ron strives to bring the story of the four-string banjo to a wider audience.
Advance: Ron’s ultimate reason for understanding and mastering all historical styles is to develop the ability and knowledge to make the four-string banjo more relevant to today and to take it into the future, and to encourage others to do so as well.