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Feb 4, 2020 - 3:49:24 AM
187 posts since 12/16/2012

Hope this makes sense. The ending to Dear Old Dixie. I can't fret using my thumb well enough to get a solid sound from the fifth string. In Mr. Scruggs tab for Dear Old Dixie the ending shows fretting the fifth string. My question is, is there a substitute I can use that does not include using the fretted fifth string?

Feb 4, 2020 - 4:48:59 AM

Texasbanjo (Moderator)


24240 posts since 8/3/2003

You can usually find the same note on the 1st string, just figure out what fret makes the same sound and fret it with the pinkie or..... what I usually do is reach over with the pinkie or whatever finger is available and fret the 5th string. I have arthritis in my thumb and it doesn't bend like it used to, so I figure out some other finger to fret that 5th string or, as I said above, find the same note on the 1st string.

Feb 4, 2020 - 7:12:22 AM

3398 posts since 3/28/2008

I'm not seeing any fretted fifth string indicated in the current edition of the Scruggs book. But here's something I often do if the chord in question is an "F shape" with a 6th or 7th on the fifth string. You can refinger the chord: pinky frets the first string, middle frets the second, and ring frets the third. That leaves the index free to fret the fifth string. Of course, this only works in situations where you're not playing the fourth string.

Feb 4, 2020 - 10:24:56 AM



7816 posts since 8/20/2016

He frets the 7th fret to roll through a B chord throughout the tune, but that's not in the ending part of the song.

In the classic version of this tune, Earl doesn't fret the 5th string in the ending. He rolls from an A chord to a D chord, slides up quickly on the 4th string, then hits the 1st string on the 17th, 19th and 20th frets, and finally brushes the open strings.

Take a pick of what the tab looks like and let's take a look.

Feb 4, 2020 - 5:27:03 PM



672 posts since 4/12/2004

I think it depends upon what the original poster meant by "ending". The last ten measures of the tune start with a B7 chord that lasts for two measures, and indeed the fifth string is fretted with the thumb.

I would answer his question by saying that he probably needs to learn to use his thumb to fret the fifth string, rather than trying to get the same notes with some other knuckle busting maneuver. After you learn to fret the fifth string with the thumb, that lick is not that difficult and once you've learned the technique, you can use it with lots of other licks. The technique is particularly effective for licks that are used for backup.

Feb 5, 2020 - 6:51:26 AM

3398 posts since 3/28/2008

Oops--you're right. Blame it on middle-aged vision and not enough coffee.


It would be a little tricky but not impossible to change the fingering of that chord (as I described in my earlier comment) between the time you hit that fourth-string note on the downbeat and the time you have to fret the fifth string.

Feb 5, 2020 - 8:24:17 AM

2178 posts since 4/5/2006

The number one rule of banjo picking is there are no rules.

Feb 13, 2020 - 7:48:59 AM



7 posts since 1/6/2020

Some chords I will hold down the fourth and fifth with my middle finger tip, is this wrong?
I might fret the fifth with my thumb same fret as my index or partially Barre with my index.
Only had my banjo for a few weeks. Don't want to be starting any bad habits.

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