Banjo Lessons

Roddy Fuller

To help support my efforts I would appreciate your tab purchases and/or tip jar donations!This lesson series is designed to reduce the time it takes to learn the banjo by focusing on one roll: the forward roll.This is not the only roll of course but is a great way to start because most every song in 4/4 time can be played with this roll.Right Hand:
I=Index Finger
M=Middle Finger
Each measure has 8 beats (1/8 notes)Roll sequence:
IMTIMTIM (this pattern is repeated throughout the entire song. Practice this sequence over and over and soon it will become muscle memory.
Use Lesson 'Practice Rolls - Tab' to learn these rolls. Remember the roll begins with the index finger (I).
In most cases:
I (Index) picks the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th string and is used 3 times in each measure and is responsible for finding the melody and providing variety.
M (middle) strikes the 1st string (D string)T (thumb) picks the high 5th (G) stringIn the tabs, the lines represent the 5 strings and the numbers represent the fret. In the tab diagram, the bottom line is the short 5th string.

Wildwood Flower NotesPractice the following very slowly over and over so that you can get accuracy.In measure 10 at the 10th fret, use your left middle and ring (MR) on the strings 1 and 2. Use ring finger on string 1 and middle finger on string 2.
Notice there is a rest after the 10 note.
In measure 11, slide the left MR to 12th fret and then just move your index to get the 10th fret. Notice there is another rest after the 10 note.In measure 12 use the 'D' chord shape at the 7-9 frets. A rest is after the 7 note.In measure 13 use the 'F' chord shape at measures 8-10. Notice rest after 9 note.In measure 14, switch to the 'D' shape to get the 7 and 9 notes then you will lift your left hand off and switch down to lower end of neck. Maintain the IMTIMTIM even though you are switching frets. This will take a lot of practice, so GO SLOW!In measure 18 the roll is the same but your left index slides from 2-3 as though it is one beat.

Old Spinning Wheel NotesRoll: IMTIMTIM (right hand)I=left index finger
M=left middle finger
R=left ring finger
1 = first string
2=2nd string
Example: F2 S1 = Fret 2, string 1
This song is in the key of C so you will be using the C, G, and F chords.In measures 2 and 3 form the C chord and hold it.Measure 4: open G chordMeasure 5: On the last note put M on the 2 note and at the same time put R on the F2 S1Measure 6: to get the G chord 3 notes, slide your MR fingers from F2 to F3.Measure 7: Hold same left hand position as measure 6Measure 8: Slide back down to C position or M on F2 S4 and R on F2 S1.This sliding up and down from F2 and F3 repeats several time all the way through measure 32Measure 33: This is the beginning of the up the neck break. All you have to do here is to form the up the neck chord positions for C, G, and F and play the indicated notes.Examples:
Measure 34: form the C chord but just use 2 fingers: I on F8 S2
and R on F10 S1
Measure 35: Side up 2 frets and form the D shape C chord starting at
Measure 36: Slide down to D shape G chord starting at F7.

Wreck of the Old 97 NotesRoll: IMTIMTIM (right hand)I=left index finger
M=left middle finger
R=left ring finger
1 = first string
2=2nd string
Example: F2 S1 = Fret 2, string 1
This song is in the key of G so you will be using the G, C, and D chords.The primary method I use is to
play the forward roll, IMTIMTIM,
over chord positions and to use the index finger to find the melody on the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th string.
The right thumb plays the 5th string and the right middle finger plays the 1st string. Sometimes the melody will fall on the 1st string.
Part of finding the melody also is to play chords at different places on the neck.A good example of this is in measures 4 and 5. To hit the melody you play the roll over the C chord at fret 1 for a measure then jump to the C chord at the fret 5 position to continue the melody. So by simply playing the roll over the chords at strategic locations, the song flows and the melody happens with it.Then at measure 6 you play the G chord at the fret 7 position which also continues the melody.The melody continues with the quarter notes at measure 7 and at measure 8 where you play the D chord. Here at measure 8 to emphasize the melody, you do the pinch at frets 3 and 4 with your right index and middle fingers in place of the IM roll.To play the song fluidly you must be able to play the major shapes up and down the neck.For example, play the 'D' shape chords using your left index, middle, ring (IMR) fingers to play the G chord
at measures 22, 27, 30, 32, 33, 35,
and the C chord at measures 29, 37, and 45, as examples.
The bar shape chord is easily played using left middle and ring fingers (MR) to play C at measure 5 and 21, D at measure 24, and G at measure 34.The 'F' shape chord is used also but only the 2 finger version is required using the left index and ring fingers
to play C chord at measures 28 and 36, D chord at measure 25 and 47, and G at measure 38

How Mountain Girls Can Love NotesRoll: IMTIMTIM (right hand)LI=left index finger
LM=left middle finger
LR=left ring finger
1 = first string
2=2nd string
Example: F2 S1 = Fret 2, string 1
This song is in the key of G so you will be using the G, C, and D chords.Measure 1 kick off:
It is common to have 3 quarter notes as a kick off to signal the other players to jump in. Instead I use 6 eighth notes for more drive.
Use TIM TIM, use LM (left middle finger) for 2 note
2: just do the IMTIMTIM primary roll3: primary roll but slide 2-5 using LM (left middle)4: hammer 2-3 using left index and middle; keep middle on 3 rest of measure5: pulloff 3-2 using left ring to middle6: press 2 with left index7: keep left index on 2, press 4 with left ring8: slide 2-3 with left middle, press next 2 with left middle, right index picks 29: pick beginning note as usual with right index but hold it for a count of 2 notes then continue TIM TIM: pick 2 with right index10-16: same as 2-817: begins walk up to C chord; press 2 with left middle; last note pick with right index and hold 2 beats18: Hold C chord down which uses left index and ring for 1 and 2; hold that for entire measure19: slide left Middle and Ring to C chord at 5th fret and hold it20: switch to G chord which puts left index on fret 7, left M on 8, and left R on 921: hold same chord; right index will pick the 7 all three times22: switch to D chord at fret 7 using left M and R23: switch to D chord with left I on 10, left R on 1224: switch to G on frets 7-9 with25: switch to G7 by pressing 6 with left index26: slide up to F shape C at frets 8-10 with left index on 8 and left Ring or pinky on 1027: slide up to D shape C at frets 12-14 with left middle on 13 and left ring on 14; pick last 13 note with right index and hold for 2 beats28: keep exact D shape and slide down to G at frets 7-9 with left middle on 8 and left ring on 929: hold same G chord at 7-9;
pick the 7 and 8 with right index and 9 with right middle
30: this begins a chord walk (see full explanation of chord walking in Foggy Mountain Breakdown notes)
using left M R on fret 7 for IMTI then slide down to fret 5 for MTIM; practice this slowly over and over;
You are simply playing the same primary roll across two frets
31: use Left I R on frets 3 and 4 for IMTI then slide down to frets 1 and 2 for MTIM32: slide 2-3 using left middle;
press the next 2 with left middle and pick it with right index
33: pick first note with right index, then right thumb, then pinch with right index and middle

Clinch Mountain Backstep NotesThe left hand fingering is quite simple. Keep your left index finger on f1/s2 (fret 1, string 2) the entire song. The ring finger is either open (not fretted) or used on fret 3, string 1, 2, 3 or 4 in different parts of the song. Note that the pinch (picking 2 strings at once) is used several times on strings 1 and 5.

Bells of St. Mary's NotesNote:
Left I = left index finger
Left M = left hand middle finger
Left R = left ring finger
This tune is played primarily from simply forming the chords, playing the forward roll (IMTIMTIM) and using the right index finger (I) to get the melody notes.For example, measures 2 and 3 are an open G chord.Measures 6 and 7 are a C chord played at frets 1 and 2 except in measure 7 at the last quarter note, use left M (middle finger) for the 3 note and left R for the 4 note.
Measure 8 is a C chord at fret 5. Again, use your left M and R fingers for the 5 notes.
Measure 12 is a D chord. You can use left I for the 2 note, left M for the 3 note and left R for the 4 note.Measures 14-15 are an F shaped A chord at frets 5-7.Measure 16 is a D chord. Again, use your left M and R for the 7 notes.Use left M and R for the G chord 12 notes at measure 20.The only tricky part is at measures 26-29. Just play your IMTIMTIM roll
but you have to change left fingering positions half way through each measure.
For example, in measure 26:First 4 notes are IMTI for the 5 5 0 5 notes using left M and I on fret 5.Last 4 notes play MTIM for the 4 0 3 4 notes using left M and R on frets 3 and 4 (or you could use left I and R).The rest of the song follows the same principles as above, just playing out of the indicated chord positions.

Foggy Mountain Breakdown NotesIn measures 2-4 and 18-20, I use IMIMTIMT. Most players use IMTMTIMT. To me it is more efficient to use the index and middle fingers on strings 1 and 2 and not bring the thumb down, but that is a matter of preference.There are 5 breaks in this version. The first 2 are down the neck. The third is up the neck. These 3 breaks are pretty standard. The last two breaks use a technique called chord walking. If you are a beginner, do not worry about learning these yet unless you want to. It takes practice but comes in handy as a general technique anytime you want to use it.Here is how chord walking works:The notes of the G scale are G A B C D E F# G. To build the chords of the G scale, start with the G note and space the notes 1, 3, and 5 so for the G chord it would be the G, B, and D notes to make up the chord.If you continue to build the chords up the scale starting with the next note, A, the 1-3-5 notes would be A, C, and E, which is the A minor chord.For the next note in the scale, B, the 1-3-5 notes are B, D, F#, which is the B minor chord.For the next note in the scale, C, the 1-3-5 notes are C, E, G, which is the C chord.If you keep going like this the next chords in the G scale are D, E minor, F# dim (or D7), then G.In Foggy Mountain Breakdown at the beginning of each break you have 4 measures of G followed by an E minor. Instead of playing 4 measures of G you can chord walk down the neck with G/D7, Em/D,
C/Bm, Am/G, then end up with Em.
See tabs 66-70 to see how that is done. In tab measure 66 I break up the forward roll (IMTIMTIM) over two chords: IMTI for the G chord at fret 12 followed by MTIM for D7 at fret 10.
In tab 67 I use IMTI for Em at frets 8 and 9 and finish the roll with MTIM on D at fret 7.I continue this pattern through all the G scale chords until I get down to the Em down the neck.You can chord walk up or down the neck. In tab measures 50-55 I walk down starting with G at fret 12 down to Bm at frets 3 and 4 and then start walking back up to the Em at frets 8 and 9.

Blackberry Blossom NotesThe entire song uses forward roll IMTIMTIM except for these exceptions:In measures 8, 16, and 24 use IMTMI T-M pinch.In measures 17, 19, 21, 25, 27, and 29 use IMTIM PinchIn measures 18, 20, 22, 26, 28, and 30 use IMTIMTI.Important: Measures 31 and 32 use
TIMTIMTIMTIMT Pinch which gives it that melodic sound. Left hand fingering is quite easy:
In measure 31 use middle finger on the 5 and index on the 4 then in 31 slide your left hand up to fret 7 and use ring finger on first string and middle on second string.
In most of the measures you are playing the forward roll (IMTIMTIM) over two chords.
For example in measure 1 you play IMTI for the G chord followed by MTIM for the D chord.

Salt Creek NotesAbbreviations:
T = right (picking) Thumb
I = right Index finger
M = right Middle finger
LI = left (fretting) index finger
LM = left middle finger
LR = left ring finger
S1 = string 1
S2 = string 2
F0 = fret open
F1 = fret 1
F2 = fret 2
The primary roll for this song is IMTIMTIM.In measure 2 slide use LM on S4, F2 to F5, using I (right index finger) followed immediately by M on S1.Similarly in measure 3 slide use LM on S3, F2 to F4, using I (right index finger) followed immediately by M on S1.In measure 9 pull-off use LR and LM on S3, F3 to F2, using I (right index finger) followed immediately by M on S1.In measure 18 pinch with T and M. Use LR to slide from F2 to F5 on S1.
Then do the pinch with LR on S1 F5.
In measure 35 do the IMTIMTIM roll
but split it up with IMTI on the G cord at F7 then MTIM on the C cord using LI on F8 S2 and LR on F10 S1. This requires a quick cord change in the middle of the roll.
At the end, measures 64 and 65, use the same IMTIMTIM roll but splitting it up into a descending 4 beats each on G F D G using LM and LR at F12, F10, F7 and F5. (Instead of playing a G note on F5, the video shows forming a G chord for that very last beat. Either way works).

John Hardy NotesRoll: IMTIMTIM (right hand)LI=left index finger
LM=left middle finger
LR=left ring finger
1 = first string
2=2nd string
Example: F2 S1 = Fret 2, string 1
The tab has 3 different breaks formed from 3 different C chord positions on the neck.
This song is in the key of C and uses the C, G, and D chords. Basically you will just be forming chords at different places on the neck and hitting melody notes within the chords.
Break 1:
In measure 2 form the down-the-neck C chord and play the notes as shown, leading with the right index finger.
In measure 3 keep the C chord in place and just add left pinky on F3 S1 for the first pinch. Pinch with right index and right middle fingers.You will play back and forth using C and G chord until you get to the end of the break which is 6 measures of D Chord. To provide variety, play 2 measures of D at 3 different positions. In measures 14 and 15 play the lower position D at frets 2, 3, and 4. In measures 16 and 17 play the D chord at fret 7. In measures 18 and 19 play D at frets 10, 11, and 12. Then the break ends on a G chord at frets 7-9.The 6 in measure 21 is a lead-in note from the G chord to C chord. To get to the 6 note in measure 21 simply slide your left middle (LM) finger down from fret 8 where it was part of the G chord.Break 2:
Now you will be playing out of the C chord at fret 5. To get there just slide you left MR (LM and LR) fingers down to F5 S2 and S1 (LM on S2 and LR on S1).
In measure 23 use left pinky to get the 6 note.In measures 36-37, play the D7 chord using left thumb on F10 S5,
left index on F10 S2 and left ring on F12 S1.
In measures 38-39 use the walk down technique going down the G scale from D to G. Refer to the Foggy Mountain Breakdown notes for an explanation on that. With this technique you play the same IMTIMTIM roll but split it into two different chords. For example in measure 38 the IMTI is 7707 and MTIM is 5055.Break 3:
The last break begins at measure 42 and uses the C chord at frets 8-10.
The ending also uses the walk-down
technique starting at measures 15-16.

I hope you found the lesson helpful!
I plan to add many more lessons featuring the banjo forward roll.
I would appreciate any donation to help support my efforts. Thank you!