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Level 1: Beginner
Level 2: Intermediate
Level 3: Advanced
Old Time Fingerpicking
Classic Style Banjo
Celtic Tunes
30 Day Challenge
Playing Backup
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Banjo Lessons: Single String Part 1

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start playing in the Single String style.
We've actually done little snippets of it
before, but
we're gonna get into it in a much more
definitive way right now.
The man who is mostly known as being the
founder of single string style in
Bluegrass is a man named Don Reno.
Because he was the one who did extended
solos in this style.
But in actuality, Eddie Adcock, another
wonderful banjo player
was playing full length single string
style Banjo.
Banjo playing and that's again,
alternating the thumb and
the index on one to two and three strings
was doing that.
Back in the early 50s, he didn't have the
roll yet, but he ran into Don Reno.
And apparently, got Don Reno to do some of
his more extended solos.
Don Reno showed him the rolls.
So Eddie Adcock is seemingly responsible
putting the single string style on the
[SOUND] And again, we've done little
snippets of it, but let's,
let's get a little more deeply into it
And just to get started, let's just hit
the fourth string a number of times.
This is something that Bela Fleck has
talked about when doing single strings.
Just kind of [NOISE] just go back and
forth on the fourth string [NOISE] until
you really like the sound you're getting.
[SOUND] When I play single string, I move
a little bit away from the bridge,
because it's such a clip sound.
As soon as you hit one note, that rings
then hit the next [NOISE] note on the same
The first one is gone.
So it's a slightly more clipped sound.
So by moving just a little bit away from
the bridge, it could be, you know,
half an inch, an inch, even two inches.
[SOUND] Decide where you'd like the sound.
It smooths out the sound a lot.
And the other things I like to do is I hit
a little bit more lightly.
[SOUND] Because if you're hitting really
hard it's, it gets a little bit sloppy.
[SOUND] So you want to kind of lighten up
your touch a lot.
[SOUND] Not a lot, a little bit, but
lighten in up a little bit.
[SOUND] And then also [NOISE] consider
really having a lot of economy in motion,
because in Scruggs style.
A lot of open strings.
the relationship between the left and
right hand isn't as critical.
And in the melodic style there's also.
You've got a breathing,
you have some breathing room with these
open strings.
In the single string style, if you're
doing the lick like.
Like right there,
you have one, two, three, four notes
[NOISE] in a row where you're all.
The coordination has to be very close
between the left and right hand.
[SOUND] In other words, let's say you're
going up like this.
[SOUND] Zero to two on the third string.
If you go early to the second fret.
You'll have an hammer on.
[SOUND] If you go late to the two.
Thumb, index, you'll, you'll,
you won't quite be down on the string yet
and you'll get a damped note.
[SOUND] So you'll want to come down
exactly as the next finger is hitting.
Thumb, index.
Again, let's start on the fourth string.
Just [NOISE] zen out for a minute.
[SOUND] You can do it with the metronome
or not.
Maybe not with the metronome, you want to
hear the tone.
Just go for the tone.
Listen to where you really like that sweet
And then go to the third string.
Thumb, index.
Thumb, index.
Thumb, index.
Second string.
First string.
can even do the fifth string if you want
to get fancy.
Rest your fingers up on the first
string here.
Listen to the tone.
Really tune into the tone.
All right.
Now let's try a G scale,
because there was a lot of scale impact in
the single string style.
We just do that.
Zero to two on the third string.
Zero to one on the second.
Zero two, four, five on the third string.
Go back down.
I'm hearing this tonally.
[SOUND] By moving my hand back and forth a
little bit.
You may just hear it in one spot.
[SOUND] Okay.
Now let's go.
[SOUND] Just zero to two on the fourth
[SOUND] Just let's start with that.
Zero, two, zero, two.
Thumb, index, thumb, index.
[SOUND] With rare exceptions, [NOISE] the
downbeat will be the thumb.
Thumb index, thumb, index.
[SOUND] I should say, the downbeat and the
[SOUND] And [NOISE] two [NOISE] and then
the third string.
Just play along with this.
[SOUND] Zero one on the second string.
[SOUND] Thumb, index, thumb, index.
Zero two on the first.
[SOUND] And to follow the, the lineation
of the scale.
[SOUND] Go two to four on the second
I'm sorry, on the first string.
Index to ring.
[SOUND] Two to four.
And four to five.
[SOUND] Well, this will feel a little bit
strange to you, a little weak.
[SOUND] Four to five on the first string.
Pinky to, I'm sorry, ring to pinky.
you can use that as an exercise just to
warm yourself up.