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How to Read A Banjo Chord Diagram

If you're already familiar with reading chord diagrams for the guitar, you’ll find that banjo players use the same system. If you turn your banjo around so that the fingerboard faces you, that's how the [more…]

How to Interpret Up-the-Neck Banjo Chord Diagrams

Looking for an easy way to remember how to fret a banjo chord with your left-hand fingers? A chord diagram not only communicates which strings are fretted for a particular chord but also where on the fingerboard [more…]

Feel the Banjo Rhythm, Beat, and Tempo

One of the things that separates music, such as you’re learning to play on a banjo, from random noise is that time is organized (in some way) within a piece of music. For now, the word [more…]

Chord Progressions: Playing Your First Banjo Song

Although you can find about as many different chord progressions as you can songs, you can count on some predictability in how chords follow one another in most songs you play on the banjo. This makes [more…]

Clawhammer Banjo: How to Fret 1st-String Pul-Offs

As a new banjo player, once you master the left-hand open-string pull-off, you can use that same skill in a way that's unique to clawhammer banjo. In this new technique, the left hand is the same as what [more…]

Double Thumbing on the Banjo

Double thumbing is an elaboration of the basic right-hand clawhammer banjo technique that enables you to play on the inside strings with your thumb. The ability to do this probably doesn't mean very much [more…]

How to Play a Clawhammer Classic on the Banjo

When you feel it's time to use your new techniques to enhance your clawhammer banjo sound, attempt some favorite melodies that everyone will want to play with you at your next old-time jam session. [more…]

Modal Tuning for Banjos

Banjo players just love to play haunting, lonesome tunes, often called modal tunes, that sound like something that's just emerged from some deep Appalachian mountain holler. Old-time musicians have come [more…]

“Last Chance” Tuning on a Banjo

In the outer edge of lonesome banjo music lies “Last Chance,” a tune associated with the Saltville, Virginia, musician Hobart Smith (1897–1965).

“Last Chance” has all the eccentric qualities that old-time [more…]

What Is Pete Seeger-Style Banjo?

Pete Seeger has been getting people excited about playing the banjo for over 70 years now. He's one of the most eclectic banjo players on the planet, playing a wide variety of music from all over the world [more…]

Fingerpicking the Old-Time Banjo Way

Old-time banjo isn't just clawhammer style. It also includes a wide variety of fingerpicking techniques that were played by old-time musicians before Earl Scruggs developed his bluegrass style in the mid-1940s [more…]

Roll Patterns on the Banjo

Much of Scruggs-style banjo playing is based around roll patterns — right-hand sequences of notes that crop up again and again when playing in this style. Roll patterns are made up of eight notes played [more…]

Make Hot Banjo Music with Some Licks

Scruggs-style banjo playing is based around creating music that uniquely combines the elements of left-hand slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs to the right-hand roll patterns. As you listen to and play [more…]

Progress to Scruggs-Style Banjo Songs

As you gain confidence playing licks on your banjo and combining them to create longer phrases, you eventually want to use the licks you know to create and enhance the melodies of songs. The following [more…]

Double C Tuning on a Banjo

The two most popular clawhammer banjo tunings are the G tuning used for “Old Joe Clark” and the double C tuning, where both the 2nd and 4th strings are tuned to a C note. You use this tuning for the old-time [more…]

What Is Clawhammer Banjo?

Old-time banjo is the fastest growing banjo style on the planet for lots of good reasons. The basic techniques are easy and fun to learn, and it's a great way to play the banjo while singing. [more…]

What Is Melodic Banjo?

Although Scruggs style is just about the most logical and ingenious technique ever created to play music on the banjo, you unfortunately can't play everything [more…]

How to Play Melodic Scales on the Banjo

Although Scruggs style uses right-hand roll patterns as the basic building blocks of banjo technique, melodic banjo is based on finding and playing scales up and down the neck. [more…]

Beginning Banjo: Count the Beat

Although most people (and even beginning banjo players) can establish a consistent beat in their heads, keeping that beat going while trying to play banjo is usually more difficult. That’s when a good [more…]

The Great Banjo Debate: One Anchor Finger or Two?

One of the raging controversies in the bluegrass banjo world over the last several decades is whether it’s best to anchor the right hand with both the ring and pinky fingers or whether it’s alright to [more…]

How to Read Banjo Tablature

Tablature (or tab for short) is the written form of music for the banjo. Although tablature uses quite a few elements that are also found in conventional music notation, tab imparts information that's [more…]

How to Read the Rhythm of Banjo Tablature

Banjo tablature expresses rhythm in much the same way as it's read in conventional music notation, in terms of measures and time signatures. Banjo players typically think of a single measure of tab in [more…]

How to Play Pinch Patterns on the Banjo

Once you have a feel for how to figure out the notes and rhythm in tab, you're ready to get acquainted with the pinch pattern. The pinch pattern gets its name from the right-hand motion you use to play [more…]

Backup Playing on the Banjo

One of the primary reasons that many people want to learn to play the banjo is to have fun making music with others in bands and in jam sessions. There's nothing quite like a banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddles [more…]

What Are Clawhammer and Bluegrass Banjo Styles?

The two most popular banjo playing styles in the world today are clawhammer (also called frailing) and bluegrass. Each of these styles uses a different right-hand position as well as a different way of [more…]


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