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Banjo Lessons: Developing Scruggsy Solos

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[MUSIC]
I
wanna start talking about how you can
develop your own solo, so
you don't have to be just always depending
on tablature.
And you can start thinking for yourself a
little bit more.
And expanding your awareness of how to get
around on the banjo.
A very important thing that Earl Scruggs
came up with, and
others before him, but I think he really,
really put his stamp on this.
Is instead of hitting a note straight on
like this, [SOUND] If there's a melody
note on the third string, [SOUND] What he
will often do, not always, but often,
will slide two to five on the fourth
string.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
So.
[MUSIC]
You might just start sliding.
[MUSIC]
Two forward rolls and two notes.
Or he might just start with a quarter
note.
[MUSIC]
That's the third string.
If you have a melody note on the second
string, [SOUND] Open.
[SOUND] You can just slide.
[SOUND] You're sliding into that note.
[SOUND] As on the fourth string, where
you're sliding up to the fifth fret.
[SOUND] Same note as the third string.
[SOUND] And we talked about this in the
tuning section.
[SOUND] That two to three side implies
motion
up to that second string melody note.
[MUSIC]
Or it might be a forward roll.
[MUSIC]
If you have a melody note on
the first string.
[SOUND]
Earl will often hit that as
a quarter note.
[MUSIC]
And in just the delay of a quarter note,
hit the hammer on in the second string,
[SOUND] So you're hammering on into that
same note, that D note, but here on the
second string.
[MUSIC]
Or
he might just hit it straight on right at
the beginning of the measure.
On the downbeat just hammer on.
[MUSIC]
If you
have a melody note on the fifth string,
[MUSIC]
You can slide up on the first string.
[MUSIC]
And
if you have a melody that does something
like this,
[MUSIC]
You can do the pull off.
[MUSIC]
To get that same effect.
[MUSIC]
Basically, what these,
these techniques do is they give you more
of a vocal quality to your playing.
Rather than just hitting a note dead on.
[MUSIC]
La.
There are many tunes where you'll just
give a little bit of a slide
into the note.
La.
[MUSIC]
In a bluesier tune on that fourth string,
you might slide three to five instead of
two to five.
[MUSIC]
Instead of that.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Okay,
now let me give you an example, just a
quick example of tunes that use each of
these, that start with these notes.
So, going back to the third string open
again.
[MUSIC]
We're gonna talk about Earl doing a slide
[MUSIC]
You could take a tune like nine pound
hammer, real traditional tune which we'll
get into in a little bit here.
[MUSIC]
And so far, so it could be, either be.
[MUSIC]
And just slide it.
Into it, or-
[MUSIC]
And delay it by the quarter note.
[MUSIC]
And of course,
if someone said, how would Earl play this?
I would say, well, he'd probably do that
two-to-five slide.
In fact, when I checked out, he just goes
[MUSIC]
He hits it dead on so.
Always expect the unexpected with Earl.
Once in a while he'll just hit it dead on
the note.
But generally he'll do a slide or hammer
on and do a note, that sort of a thing.
[MUSIC]
You don't go, oh the nine pound hammer.
You'll tend to slide in to it.
If a melody note's on the B note.
You Are My Sunshine does that.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
But instead of hitting it dead on like
that, you are my sunshine, my only sun-,
which is a very pretty tune.
It's just a different way of approaching
it.
But if you want to Scruggs-ify it, you can
slide into that note.
You are my sunshine.
[MUSIC]
Same thing, melody right there.
[MUSIC]
There it is again.
[MUSIC]
Here it is again.
[MUSIC]
Please don't take my sunshine away.
[MUSIC]
There was a harmonic,
by the way, up here on the 17th fret of
the fifth string.
[MUSIC]
Okay,
if you have a melody note on the first
string.
Such as Wildwood Flower which is often
done in C, most often done in C,
especially on the guitar.
Let's do it in G.
[MUSIC]
Melody note on the first string.
You can hammer out into that note.
[MUSIC]
And so on and so forth.
If you have a melody note on the fifth
string,.
[MUSIC]
Like John Henry.
When John Henry was a little baby boy But
you can slide into that instead.
[MUSIC]
But for
our purposes here I've chosen
Poor Ellen Smith, which is a,
just a good old time tune and
I'll play the Scruggs-ified version of it.
[MUSIC]
It's another one of those cheerful murder
ballads which make their way into the
bluegrass repertoire.
[MUSIC]
So the first note's the first string, so-
[MUSIC]
You're hammering into that note.
Poor El, poor Ellen Smith.
No, the note on the second string, Smith.
I'm just throwing in that pull off as
decoration.
[MUSIC]
How she was found.
How.
She, and I'm getting the pull off on this.
She was found.
I'm just hitting that fourth string dead
on.
And then hammering onto a C.
Shot through the heart lying cold.
Melody note on the second string.
I'm sliding into it.
Cold on the ground.
[MUSIC]
And our old friend, that tag lick there.
So one more time for Poor Ellen Smith.
[MUSIC]