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Your second lesson, your first chords and basic rolls

Look at your left hand. Your index finger is 1, your middle finger is 2, your ring finger is 3 and your pinky is 4. You seldom use your thumb while playing the banjo. I wouldn't say never but almost. Your first chord of course is G. Thats all open strings using the above standard tuning. Very few songs are written with only one chord. So you need to learn a few more. Now when I refer to frets, its not the actual bar itself but the space between that your fingers should be occupying. Try to push down using your finger tips rather than the flat part of your fingers. Yes you will need to clip those fingernails pretty short.

( Fret Count begins at the top)

C major

1 is on the 2nd string first fret
2 (middle) is on the 4th string 2nd fret
3 (ring finger) is on the 1st string 2nd fret
Outside of G major this is probably the only other chord where its always ok to hit all 5 strings.The other chords practice strumming the top 4 strings only.
Note lifting your 1st finger off creates an Eminor used in many songs such as Foggy Mt Breakdown

D major

1 or your index finger is on the second fret.
3 or your ring finger is on the third fret.
4 or your pinky is on the fourth fret.
D is also a "bar" chord. You can walk this position up the neck and play chords all the way up, on the top 3 strings only.

E major

1 or your index finger is on the first fret.
2 or your index finger is on at the second fret.
3 or your ring finger is on at the second fret.
To play E minor, lift your index finger off the third string first fret.

F major

1 or your index finger is on the first fret.
2 or your middle finger is on the second fret.
3 or your ring finger is on the third fret.
4 or your pinky finger is on the third fret.
F is hard for beginners to get, just work on it a little at a time and you will master it. F is also another "bar" chord. You can walk this up the neck on 4 strings.

A and B major

A and B major are also bar chords. For A you lay your index finger across all of the top 4 strings on the second fret.(Its ok to use the flat of your finger for these chords)
For B the same thing on the 4th fret.
These are all your major chords. There are many other chords minors 7th etc but this is basic banjo.

You should practice strumming these chords, memorize them and learn to change to them quickly. Take as much time as you require to learn them. When you have them down pretty good, then you are ready to proceed to a little picking.

Learning To Pick

A few words before we begin

There are basically two styles of picking a banjo. Some would argue this issue, but I believe there are just 2 styles, differant variations. The most common style is referred as the Scrugs style which implements picking a melody note along with fill in notes.
The second style is melodic banjo some attribute to Don Reno or Bill Keith but basically every note picked is a melody note. Melodic banjo is a great style, one which I love to play and teach, but for our purposes here in basic banjo we are only learning a few basic rolls.
Now about speed. Dont worry about speed, go for accuracy. A big mistake alot of newbies make is trying to play as fast as Bela Fleck out of the gate. Banjo pickers play up to 15 notes a second when in high gear, dont worry about that. Learn to be accurate and clean. Speed comes in time. Its hard to unlearn making mistakes, learn to play slow and accurate.
A few tips, anchor your ring and pinky fingers on the head of your banjo, try to strike the strings as square as possible, twist your picks around and experiment so that you are hitting clean licks. Anchoring your ring and pinky will help you acclamate with the strings. Ok, you will eventually rub the white off your banjo head, but by then you will know how to play. Take a look at Willie Nelsons guitar sometime, see that big hole in it by the bridge? And he flat picks.

Though Im writing these in open strings, you can practice these also using your chords. Remember T is thumb, I is index and M is middle finger.
Heres your first roll. Play this pattern about 5 times through, practice it slow, accurate and gradually speed up. Try changing chords with your left hand while you practice this with your right.

Heres roll number 2, same drill as the first.
Practice these rolls, mix them up play one then the other change chords.

Coming soon all the above information with voice on real player