Banjo Rolls for Guitar

February 25, 2011


THE BANJO ROLL IS AN ESSENTIAL technique for playing ripping country two beats. In this lesson, I’ll show you how to play two great banjo roll licks. In banjo rolls, the right hand does most of the work and uses a technique called hybrid picking.

Example 1 is the granddaddy of all banjo roll licks. The pickup chords are played by plucking strings three, two, and one simultaneously using your pick, middle and ring fingers respectively. Watch the duplicate Ds on the third and second strings.

Example 2 is played over back cycling dominant 7th chords, beginning on an E7 chord. Arch your fretting fingers allowing the open E string to ring against the other notes. Simply move the lick down is halfsteps to create the sound of each new chord. Notice the hammer-ons on beats one and three of each lick. The last measure is a classic tag or ending in the key of G.

Both examples use the top three strings and feature the same hybrid picking patterns. Flatpick the third string, and pluck the second and first strings with your middle, and ring fingers, respectively. Add a snap to the open strings by using a bit of your fingernail.

For maximum sustain, pay close attention to the left-hand fingering and stay relaxed. Practice slowly before you increase the tempo. Use the bridge pickup and dial in a clean, bright twang with a little compression and reverb. Have fun!

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