Apologies if this is a dumb question and the solution is obvious but i seem to be all fingers and thumbs.
I've been playing for about three years now and up to now have concentrated on chords and rolls to play.I would now like to extend my playing capabilities by being able to play individual notes on intro's and also musical breaks in the middle of songs.Is there a tried and tested method of knowing where to position your left hand and fingers to get around the fret board in the most efficient way .I presume the fingering for the strings is the same as for playing rolls?
Thanks Tom, Well this is a coincidence,I've just recommended somebody to check out your website as they want to play non standard banjo music and i've told them they will find this a very useful resource, Graham.
Not sure if I understand your question fully but I think I do. This will be true on any string on your banjo (or guitar or other fretted instrument) and the musical scale in general, but lets concentrate on just your 1st string on your banjo, assuming you play a 5 string banjo tuned to a G open tuning (gDGBD)
The half steps on the musical scale and on the banjo fret board are between B and C and E and F, so you only move one fret to go to the next full note for those notes only. No sharps between B and C and E and F, all other notes have a sharp between them and will require you move two frets to get to the next full note. Drill that into your memory.
So if your 1st string is tuned to a D, the very next fret will be a D# (1st fret), then E (2nd Fret) then F ((3rd fret), F# (4th fret), G(5th fret),G# (6th fret), A (7th fret), A# (8th fret), B (9th fret), C (10th fret) and C# (11th fret), and D again at the 12th fret (the octave) That same string plucked open will be a D and at the 12th fret will be another D, but one octave higher. Further up the neck, that same pattern repeats itself over again.
This same pattern repeats itself on all the other strings also, just remember that the half step (1 fret) is only between notes B & C and E & F. All other notes require a sharp between the notes ( and two fret spaces).
So if you want to play a 1,4, 5 progression on just the D string, (D,G, A) with D being the tonic), then G (sub dominant), then A (dominent 7th) on just the D string, you would pluck it open, then at the 5th fret (G)and then on the 7th fret (A)
Without someone there to show you in the flesh it may be a bit confusing. My explanation is probably clear as mud too as I am really a musical clutz. This pattern is the same for the musical scale no matter what instrument I believe. Look at a piano keyboard, the places where there are two white keys next to each other (without a black key between them) will also be a B or C or a E or F note. So even if you do not play the piano, you can figure out where the correct notes are, providing the piano is in tune of course.
If you are somewhat familiar with tab, get Pete Wernick's Bluegrass Songbook.
It has words and chords to familiar songs along with melody notes tabbed out.
Use the chords to frame the song in your head, then play the melody notes, then add rolls using them to express the song. That's one way to do it. I think learning the names of notes is not going to get you where you want to go right now.
Tom, thank you for these diagrams, especially the blank one.....i've printed it off and laminated them, with a dry marker i can fill them in every night in bed and then just rub them off to start again.
Banjotom2. Hi Tom, thankyou for the PDF printed finger board charts. I have done the same as CALV and put the blank in a laminate. I reckon you have helped more folk than you realise. thanks again mate. Mac