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Banjo Lessons: Fancier Backup

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[MUSIC]
Let's
spend a little more time on backup right
now.
Let's take it to the next level.
And [SOUND] I'll show you a, a little lick
here, which goes like this.
[MUSIC]
And
I'm up at this high G here, which is an
octave above this F position G here.
[MUSIC]
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven,
eight notes up.
[MUSIC]
And I'm just playing off,
mostly off the first three strings.
It's-
[MUSIC]
One, two, three, four, forward rolls, and
then a quick alternating thumb roll.
[MUSIC]
And I just start with just the first three
strings being fretted, with the pinkie,
index, and middle.
[MUSIC]
Then I add the ring finger on
the fourth string at the seventeenth fret,
as part of the alternating thumb roll.
[MUSIC]
And I slide in to it.
And notice again, that I'm away from the
bridge.
To get more of that watery sound and a,
again, give you a break from the-
[MUSIC]
All that sound.
[MUSIC]
And
then you can go down here for the C chord
between the eighth and tenth frets.
Exactly the same position.
[SOUND] Just move down.
[SOUND] And you can slide into it on the
third string if you want.
[MUSIC]
Well we got, one fret below and
just slide into it.
[MUSIC]
And
then you could just slide up two more
frets for D.
[MUSIC]
And back to the G.
[MUSIC]
So
the whole thing put together would be like
this.
[MUSIC]
Now, from here we can go to a slightly
fancier thing.
This gets a little tricky, physically for
some folks.
[MUSIC]
We're opening up the sound of the,
of the chord.
[MUSIC]
By bringing the thumb across.
And again, some of you may have trouble
doing this depending
on whether you have a fifth string capa
going up the side of the neck.
It gives you a little more space to have
to get around, or
maybe your thumb just doesn't work that
way.
Or your neck might be a little bit
thicker.
But if you can do this-
[MUSIC]
It's another situation where you're just
holding onto the set position, which is
the most common position used for
all these kind of rolling back up licks.
[SOUND] And [COUGH]
[MUSIC]
Start with a quarter note on
the fourth string.
You're gonna be fretting the full F chord
position.
[MUSIC]
And
then add the thumb to the eighth fret of
the fifth string.
[MUSIC]
And you're between the eighth and
tenth frets here on the C chord.
[MUSIC]
And it's the same idea as that last lick.
[MUSIC]
Except this time,
you're doing three full forward rolls.
Start with the quarter note, that stray
note.
[MUSIC]
Three forward rolls, two, three, and
then an alternating thumb-
[MUSIC]
At the end.
[MUSIC]
Move it up two frets for D.
[MUSIC]
And that's giving the C.
[SOUND] Again as the C seventh with a
flatted seventh.
Here's your C chord-
[MUSIC]
If you go do-re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do.
Except ti instead of being the seventh
note of the scale.
[MUSIC]
You flat it.
[SOUND] The flatted seventh which is this-
[MUSIC]
C seventh.
[MUSIC]
Up two frets for D seventh.
[MUSIC]
And in lots of times up here,
you slide up to the G.
[MUSIC]
Again, between the 15th and 17th frets.
[MUSIC]
Except instead of having the G seventh-
[MUSIC]
I have the G sixth.
[MUSIC]
One, two, three, four, five, six.
It's a G chord, but you add the sixth note
of the scale.
It gives it kind of a jazzy flavor.
[MUSIC]
So
now just with these elements right here,
you can put together a backup.
You could start with the,
the first one I just showed you with no
fifth string added.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
Then go to the C.
[MUSIC]
With the flatted seventh.
[MUSIC]
Slide back up to G.
[MUSIC]
This time add the fifth string on this
14th fret of the fifth string.
So you have the G sixth.
[MUSIC]
And then down to the D.
[MUSIC]
You can just go back and
forth between these two F position licks.
One with the fifth string and one without.
So, let me just throw this together here.
[MUSIC]
So you can just kinda mix and match these.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Let's
go another step further, and throw in a, a
really nice lick.
[MUSIC]
Which you can use on a G chord.
And Earl uses this lick.
[MUSIC]
You're kind of sliding into this position,
this D chord D position, G chord here.
[MUSIC]
Here's D, we move it up, to G.
[COUGH] D, D-sharp, E, F, F-sharp, G.
But rather than starting with the whole
position,
you'll just slide up on the second string.
And start with the fifth string.
[MUSIC]
And then, to,
that's the first eighth note, and then do
two more eighth notes,
which is a five-eight slide on the second
string, using the middle finger.
[MUSIC]
Hit it again,
as it's up there at the eighth fret.
[MUSIC]
And
then bring the ring down on the ninth fret
of the third string.
[MUSIC]
Go to the index on the seventh fret
of the third string.
[MUSIC]
And
you're gonna hit the same string twice in
a row using the thumb and index.
[MUSIC]
Thumb, index.
[MUSIC]
Just try that much of it.
[MUSIC]
And
then finish it off, your ring finger's
sitting right there.
Put it right down on the ninth fret of the
fourth string.
[MUSIC]
And
then hit the open first string to fill out
the eighth note.
[MUSIC]
So you could do a couple of those.
[MUSIC]
Go to C.
[MUSIC]
And end up just down the neck, which Earl
will do.
Lots of times he'll be up the neck for
maybe half of the back-up, or
a little bit more, and then he'll just
jump down the neck and he'll be here,
away from the bridge, while he's doing
this up the neck.
[MUSIC]
Sweet stuff.
And then as he goes down the neck, his
hand moves back to the bridge.
[MUSIC]
To
go back to the blood, guts, and thunder of
straight ahead.
Scruggs-style, down the neck.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Now,
there's a variation, instead of going.
[MUSIC]
You can do a little syncopation and
do this lick right here.
[MUSIC]
Which is
the lick that leads you into your C cord.
So you start the way we just did that last
like.
[MUSIC].
But instead of just the open first string
afterward.
[MUSIC]
You slide again.
[MUSIC]
So-
[MUSIC]
Slide, hit that second string twice.
[MUSIC]
And
then use your thumb three times in a row,
and
you're gonna move your ring finger to the
ninth fret of the third string.
[MUSIC]
Down one fret, and
earl chokes that a little bit for some
unknown reason, but it sounds cool.
[MUSIC]
And
then to the index on the seventh fret of
the third string.
So as you're doing this descending line.
[MUSIC]
You're using one finger per fret, ring,
middle, and index rather than using the
same finger.
This is more economical motion wise.
[MUSIC]
Then you go to your C chord and
hit the fourth string.
[MUSIC]
So you have this line going down.
[MUSIC]
Except you're not gonna use the pinky,
you can use the ring.
[MUSIC]
Cuz that's the bottom
note of your C chord.
So to put this together, we'll do another
little demonstration here.
Here comes
the new lick.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
One
more lick that is a great lick that Earl
Scruggs came up with,
he was really influenced by the swing era
and licks like this in particular.
[MUSIC]
So, you get the pinky up here on
the 17th fret of the fifth string,
starting on the fifth string.
[MUSIC]
17th fret of the first string,
I think I said that.
[MUSIC]
And there's a real syncopation in there.
[MUSIC]
So
you take the pinky
[MUSIC]
At the 17th fret, and
then move it down to the 14th fret.
[MUSIC]
Go to the middle finger on the 12th fret
of the first string.
[MUSIC]
Up to the pinky again of the 14th fret
[MUSIC].
And once you're there
[MUSIC]
Take your index figure, and
slide 11 to 12 on the second string
[MUSIC]
While the pinky's at the 14th fret
of the first string, so you get.
[MUSIC]
And
then you jump down to this position here,
which is the top two notes, and
you D position G cord
[MUSIC]
[COUGH] And this is a really important
position to get to used in the bluegrass
world, not just for backup but for
lead as well, and I'll talk a little bit
more about this shortly.
[MUSIC]
You have the ring on the ninth fret of
the first string, index on the eighth fret
of the second string
[MUSIC]
And you're gonna put your pinky,
on the 11th fret of the second string.
And if that's too hard to do, if your hand
just doesn't wanna do that right away,
go to the tenth fret of the second string.
[MUSIC]
So you got
[MUSIC]
So hit the fifth string,
bring the pinky to the 11th fret of the
second string.
[MUSIC].
And if you can choke it a little bit,
that's even better.
[MUSIC]
Just push up a little bit with it.
[MUSIC]
And your ring is already on the ninth,
fret of the first string.
[MUSIC].
And then, you can do a quick alternating
thumb, fifth string,
your index is at the eighth fret of the
second.
[MUSIC]
And
you bring your middle over to the ninth
fret, of the third string.
[MUSIC]
And slide all the way down,
hit the first string and the open third.
So the whole lick together is.
[MUSIC]
So you could do something like.
[MUSIC]
So at the end of that lick.
[MUSIC]
Just slide all the way down,
nine on the third string
[MUSIC]
To you know, four or three but just,
just throw it away.
[MUSIC].
So, you notice that last time I just did
[MUSIC]
That much of the lick,
in the middle of the back up but then at
the end, I did the whole one.
[MUSIC]
Okay and Earl will do that,
I just did unconsciously, but Earl will do
that sometimes.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
He'll push down on the head
[SOUND] And sometimes even move the neck
forward to get it a little bit looser, you
don't wanna snap your neck off, but it's
just a little detail, little side light.
[MUSIC]
And then you'll have to retune.
[MUSIC]
Okay and there's a whole series of
these licks, instead of going
[MUSIC]
Sometimes Earl will go.
[MUSIC]
So.
[MUSIC]
You may notice that, again, unconsciously,
I'm hammering instead of sliding.
So if you wanna hammer.
[MUSIC]
Sometimes I hammer index to middle.
[MUSIC]
Sometimes I slide.
[MUSIC]
Either one works.
[MUSIC]
So
here's just a sample backup, throwing
together some of these elements.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
There's a,
another backup like which you'd find Earl
Scruggs using a lot.
And it's more of the kind of medium tempo,
jaunty
jaunty tunes that he would do with Lester
Flatt, and it's this lick right here.
[MUSIC]
He starts off Six White Horses
with that a tune that Flatt and Scruggs
recorded back in the 50s.
And you're working out of the F position G
chord.
[MUSIC]
And
you start with the fourth string m then go
to the first string.
[MUSIC]
And then,
let go of everything except your pinky.
And then add your index on the third fret
of the third string.
[MUSIC]
Go to the middle on the third,
the fourth fret of the third string.
[MUSIC]
And then the right hand
you're going to thumb, thumb, and then
index, index on the second string.
And you bring the index over to the third
fret of the second string.
[MUSIC]
And
the ring on the fifth fret of the second
string.
[MUSIC]
So it's.
[MUSIC]
Thumb, middle, thumb, thumb, index, index.
And then you hammer-on three to four on
the third string.
[MUSIC]
Hit the fourth string, I'm sorry,
first string, and then back to the fourth
string with the ring at the fifth fret.
[MUSIC]
Okay, now a lot of people go.
[MUSIC]
They'll do thumb, index, thumb,
index, instead of thumb, thumb, index,
index.
Again it's one of these Scruggs details.
[MUSIC]
It just bounces better by doubling
the thumb and doubling index, even though
you're not suppose to do that.
[MUSIC]
You get a dispensation from Earl to do it
with this particular lick.
[MUSIC]
And
just to cover that ending that I just did.
[MUSIC]
This has nothing to do with
the back up but just since it's there and
you might have wondered what I was doing.
[MUSIC]
The middle's on the fourth
string, third fret.
[MUSIC]
And
the ring is on the third fret of the
second string.
[MUSIC]
Go down a fret and have the open third.
[MUSIC]
Open.
So hit the fourth string, pinch the second
and third strings.
[MUSIC]
Or
you can do anything you want in the right
hand with that.
[MUSIC]
But that, that's the idea.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Okay,
and I wanna just finish off, this backup
section with something in the style of
Earl Scruggs, where you'll see him working
up the neck [SOUND] For the first half.
And then the second half, he just jumps
down the neck, and
jumps down the neck to the lower.
Regions down here.
So, it's gonna go like this.
[MUSIC]
There are a couple of interesting things
here.
One of which, it starts right off with
this.
[MUSIC]
Rather than just
working out of your F position G.
When Earl does this, he slides up on the
1st and
4th stings [SOUND] And then inverts the
index and middle.
[MUSIC]
So you're going
from one G position to the next G position
[MUSIC]
Then he jumps back down.
This is a really handy thing to do.
You can do it on C cord
[MUSIC]
You're going from F position to the D
position of the cord
[MUSIC]
Or D, the same thing
[MUSIC]
But anyway, just to stick with this G.
[MUSIC]
So it really goes.
[MUSIC]
And
then he hits the open fifth, open second,
and hammers on three to four on the third
string
[MUSIC]
As he hits the first string.
[MUSIC]
And
just keep your pinky down the whole time
on the fifth fret of the first string.
[MUSIC]
Except when you move up here.
[MUSIC]
And then he repeats and jumps up
[MUSIC]
But when he goes up, he goes.
[MUSIC]
Hits the fourth string, and
pinches the first two strings.
[MUSIC]
Comes back to the third string,
which is at the seventh fret.
[MUSIC]
So it's
[MUSIC]
Continuing now.
[MUSIC]
You have that.
Then he jumps back down here again.
[MUSIC]
Jumps up.
[MUSIC]
So he's kind of jumping quickly back and
forth between this F position, G, and the
D position G.
[SOUND] And while he's doing that, he does
some fancy finger work in the right hand.
[MUSIC]
So
from the beginning of this section, it's.
[MUSIC]
Then you go on to C.
[MUSIC]
Which is that lick we had earlier.
[SOUND] With the thumb around the eighth
fret of the fifth string.
[MUSIC]
And
I just kind of slide away on the third.
Third string with that nine.
And then.
[MUSIC]
That ever present lick.
[MUSIC]
And for the D.
[MUSIC]
That lick was,
is a lick that I learned in my very first
banjo lesson on Lonesome Road Blues.
[MUSIC]
So for the D.
[MUSIC]
Now, when
I learned it initially from my teacher, he
showed me to hit the fourth string,
there's a quarter note, and then the first
string by itself [SOUND] Twice.
And then the hammer
[MUSIC]
Like that.
And 25 years later, I saw a video of Earl
playing that lick.
You're just playing something through that
link in and
I saw that this middle finger was around
here somewhere and went whoa.
What is that?
Slowed it down, went back to it.
[MUSIC]
Then realized he was doing a unison with
the first two strings.
The open first string and the third fret
of the second string.
[SOUND] Just a lot punchier that way.
[MUSIC]
So
one more time, you have this, and again,
start away from the bridge.
[MUSIC]
Close to the bridge.
[MUSIC]