Essential Right-Hand Patterns for Bluegrass and Clawhammer Banjo

By Bill Evans

Part of Banjo For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The key to becoming a great banjo player is having solid timing and rhythm in your picking hand. One of the best ways to develop this ability is to practice the most frequently used patterns in clawhammer and bluegrass style, playing them over and over again until you’ve completely internalized them.

Here are the crucial right-hand moves you’ll use just about every time you pick your banjo.

Clawhammer patterns

The Basic Clawhammer Stroke


Double-Thumbing Technique


Bluegrass patterns

Alternating Thumb Roll


Forward-Reverse Roll


Forward Roll


Credit: Tablature courtesy of Bill Evans