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Banjo Lessons: “Sitting On Top of the World” - Up the Neck

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Well that's the up the neck break for
Sitting on Top of the World.
I always recommend in working in up the
neck break, as well as doing the down the
neck break to see.
Just to get comfortable with all of the
finger board.
We're not getting way up here in munchkin
land, but we're around in here for
this particular variation on Sitting On
Top of the World.
You'll notice that there are a lot of.
Bending of strings there.
Choking or bending, how, whatever term
you'd like to use, and I just want to.
Mention and, and
talk about that a little bit cuz it's a
very common thing,
that you find in up the neck bluegrass for
Foggy Mountain Break Down where Earl goes.
And so on and so forth.
I use the middle finger, you could use the
index, the ring.
It doesn't really matter.
I find that I get the most power out of
using the middle finger.
And the thing is I don't wanna hear.
Cuz he's really pushing that string, and
if you have trouble bending that string,
I could recommend using an 011 gauge as
opposed to perhaps a 12 or a 13.
Makes it easier to bend the note, and
you want to really push it so hard that
you get up to that B flat note.
The 11th fret of the second string.
You're fretting in at the 10th fret with
the bend.
But, you wanna get the note to be that,
pretty much.
Not exactly, but close to it.
And when you bend it, that note,
hard enough, you'll actually see that,
that you're pushing the 3rd string almost
up to the 4th string.
So, it's not a lightweight thing.
You're really getting.
Visceral with the whole thing.
And as you re-
Remove, as you come back to start again.
You don't wanna stay up there.
Like that.
You wanna start over from the slack
position each time.
Like that,
and so what I do, is I bend it up here and
then as I'm coming down, I actually let go
of the fingerboard, let the pressure of
the string raise my finger up, so
I'm off the fingerboard, so I don't hear.
I don't hear that release.
And you wanna bend.
All three of those.
One, two, three.
Now I'm, for some reason I tend to use the
index twice in a row.
Even though generally, when you're playing
this lick you're to bring you it's gonna
be the Foggy Mountain Break down roll.
And Earl may well-
Bring his thumb across for that.
For the second bend like index thumb, but
the important thing is to make sure you
really get that note up there.
Each time.
Now I'm not doing that lick in this
version of Sitting On Top of the World,
but I have some of this.
Bending going on up to that note.
And I'll get to that in a minute.
Let's start from the beginning.
And again, I'm playing the syllables here
because it's a great way to play up
the neck, rather than feeling like gee, I
don't know what's going on here.
Just find the melody notes.
That's a little fancier.
Than just the strict melody.
But I kind of like
that lick.
Starting at the 12th fret of
the first string.
And you're in G, so you're working out of
this bar position G.
Except I'm not using the bar.
It's the same as down here open, except up
an octave.
And I'm using the ring in middle.
Earl Scruggs almost always uses the.
Middle and index, I've noticed from lots
of observation.
And you could do it that way too.
I'm just gonna stick with the middle and
ring, cuz it's more comfortable for me.
So, twas in.
And it's one, and two, and one.
Twas in the spring.
So you're gonna start with two quarter
So it's one, two, three, four, one, two,
three, four, one.
So it's two hits on the 4th, on the 1st
string, 12th fret.
And then you can let go of the ring, and
slide up with the middle, ten to 12.
Then you're back to the 12th.
Fret of the 1st string with the ring added
back on.
And you're just gonna keep those two down.
Two forward rolls.
One more forward roll adding the pinkie on
the 14th fret of the 1st string.
Back to the ring.
And then I'm just gonna let go of that 1st
And keep that open as I get the melody on
the 2nd string.
Ten to 12 with a pinch to begin that
measure four.
I'm really fond of getting melody notes on
the 2nd string, whether I'm playing out of
D or G.
And using the 1st string as a drone along
with the 5th string.
So you have the ten
to 12 slide on the second string as you're
pinching the first string with it.
Then two forward rolls.
Now you're in measure five.
One more forward roll as you add the ring.
then two quarter notes on the twelfth
And now, that arrow or that seeming
question mark there,
is the the tablature equivalent of choking
up and down for one note.
Instead of just choking up, you're gonna,
it's a quick.
Squidge it or I'm not sure what the
technical term for that would be.
[SOUND] But you're going up really
[SOUND] Like two eighth notes in the space
of a quarter note.
And you're going into the C chord.
So rather than hitting the C chord on
the down beat in measure six you're doing
that choke.
[SOUND] And then.
right after that I've got the index on the
eighth fret of the second.
And the pinkie on the tenth fret of the
Which is part of your F position C chord.
So, second, first, fifth and
then alternating thumb.
Fifth, second, third and
I bring the middle down on the ninth fret
of the third string.
And then the first.
then I hit the eighth fret of the second
with my thumb and the right hand and
the index on the eighth thread of the
second like I say and then.
And here's C seventh lick.
I have the index on the eighth fret of the
[SOUND] The open first, I'm sorry open
[SOUND] Ring on the tenth fret of the
[SOUND] Back to the fifth.
And then you go into a forward roll from
the fifth string.
Hitting the third string of the ninth fret
with the middle finger.
Open first and ending on the fifth string.
So the whole thing is.
And that's measure seven.
then you hit the fifth string as a quarter
note to get back to G.
And at that point.
you're getting into your
Sally Goodin position.
you're index is now at the eighth fret of
the second.
Ring at the ninth fret of the first.
Even though you don't start with that.
But you want to be positioned like that as
your pinky is choking the 11th thread.
Just a straight.
Not a big choke, but just a little
And then let go with the pinky, and
you've got an alternating thumb, fifth
string, open eighth fret of the second.
And the middle comes down on the ninth
fret of the third.
And at that point, I lift off my ring off
the first string.
You don't have to, but my hand naturally
does that.
And again, you wanna get right off that
You don't want to keep it down.
then you go to the second string in
measure nine with the thumb.
And then.
Let go of everything and
have the index on the seventh fret of the
middle on the ninth fret of the first,
index on the eighth fret of the second.
And then.
[SOUND] I do another one of these pinching
slides [SOUND] With the middle finger and
the left hand, pinching the first two
[SOUND] Quarter note, and then two forward
then back to the index on the eighth fret
of the second string to begin measure 11.
And then, two quarter notes.
On the first quarter note of the tenth
fret, I'm choking up, holding it, and
then releasing.
And in this case, don't let go, just hold
it up and then release it.
So, coming from the measure before that,
you'll have.
Get a nice little zing coming off it.
Back to the index.
I'm sorry.
Bring the middle finger down to the eighth
thread of the second string for
measure 12.
Quarter note.
And then add the index on the seventh fret
of the third.
And keep it there.
And add the ring on the ninth fret of the
Alternating thumb, fifth, second,
third, first, thumb over to the second
string in the right hand.
Still at the eighth fret.
And then.
And then index and ring on the third
Seven, nine, middle back on the.
Eighth fret of the second.
And here we have another choke up and
down quick.
Back to the index.
Quarter, quarter.
And then a choke up.
Back to the in that forward roll.
Index back on the eighth fret of the
Quarter note.
Fifth first and then another, lots of
choking here.
Again, the choke up, hold it.
And then the second tenth fret, release
So the arrow goes up as you push up.
It goes down as you release it.
And then the index on the eighth fret of
the second string, and
you go back to your Sally Gooden position.
And there's a nine to,
it says nine to zero.
At the end there.
And it doesn't literally mean all the way
down, but you're just throwing the lick
away, throwing that third string away
something Earl does a lot of
Like that.
All right.
it's a little tricky there with some of
those bends.
But let's go through this one more time
One more time up to tempo.
All right.
Now you have two complete solos for
Sitting on Top of the World.
And I do highly recommend just improvising
off these.
See what you can do.
Even if you're changing one or two notes.
Just to start not being locked in to
exactly what I have here,
even though these are good, varied,
melodic oriented.
Not melodic style but melody oriented.
Syllable oriented.
Versions of it.
Just see where you can take this on your
And that's it for now.
So hope you enjoyed Sitting on Top of the
World, up the neck.
Well, Sitting on Top of the World is a
really important tune to know cuz it
ends up being played in a lot of jam
It's one of the all time standard and
great blue grass tunes to play.
So why don't you send in a video for a
video exchange so
I can see how you're doing with it?
And, actually I'd love to see what you
would do with it,
how you would change it around, see if you
could improvise off it, or come up
with a slightly different arrangement,
either for the up or down the neck breaks.
So, that would be great.
Send into Video Exchange, and let's see
what you got going.