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Banjo Lessons: “Salty Dog” by Ralph Stanley

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[MUSIC]
Hi folks, I'm here with Scott Nygaard,
my good friend from the Bay Area, of
California, the left coast.
And we're very happy to be playing a
little bit of Salty Dog for you.
This is, the Stanley Brothers version, a
live recording from September 7th,
1958, the New River Jamboree in Rising Sun
Ranch, Maryland.
And I'm glad people were back recording,
back then.
So this is a, just a great version of
Salty Dog by,
Ralph Stanley with a little bit up the
neck as we go along.
And you will notice this, endless stream
of eighth notes.
Whereas, Earl would often put a lot of
quarter notes in to bring out the melody.
Ralph just has this amazing, driving right
hand.
And just having that steady stream of
eighth notes really helps to bring
that out a lot.
So I think you're really gonna enjoy this
version of Salty Dog.
[MUSIC]
All right, now I'll play Salty Dog slowed
down just a little bit.
One, two, three, four, one.
[MUSIC]
I love that.
[MUSIC]
Some woman came up to Ralph Stanley once
and said, hey Ralph play that diggy,
diggy.
And that is what she was talking about.
It's one of, Ralph's trademark licks.
This is a wonderful version of Salty Dog.
This is taken from a live recording, at
New River Jamboree,
Rising Sun Ranch, Maryland.
And it's from September 7th, 1958.
Some of the most wonderful music recorded
by these earlier and
first generation bluegrass bands.
Come from live recordings and you just get
to hear their interaction
with the audience, and telling the jokes
and all that.
And I'm not aware of,
this being officially recorded by the
Stanley Brothers.
I could be wrong about that, but I
searched around and didn't find it.
But I have it on the slide recording, like
I say, from 58.
And it's just great to see how different
it is from what Earl played.
For Mercury records back in the early 50s.
And one thing that, that Ralph does, and
there's a lot of this and
Don Reno would do a lot of this also,
would be to hit have two notes and
two forward rolls and there's a lot of
this in here.
[MUSIC]
So just starting off with, for
the tablature here.
I've got three different examples of this
without any left hand.
It's just all right hand.
[MUSIC]
So starting third string,
second string, fifth, second, first,
fifth, third, first, so
[MUSIC]
So one.
And let's see, one and two and one.
[MUSIC]
And
then you can just play this through a few
times.
[MUSIC]
And
then, and the other one that he does is.
[MUSIC]
Where you're hitting the second, first,
fifth, second, first, fifth, third, first.
[MUSIC]
Two, three, and.
[MUSIC]
And just play it a few times.
[MUSIC]
And then, now this is a,
a unique thing that Ralph does that very
few other people do.
I think I think Earl Scruggs did it maybe
once.
And it's just it's something that's one of
the hallmarks of, another hallmark
of Ralph's style having the index finger
coming in to the fourth string.
Which will probably feel weird to you cuz
Earl.
I don't think there's any example of that
hardly here, on this site.
And in the Scruggs book, I think it
happens in one tune.
[MUSIC]
But what, what, the example I'll use here.
[MUSIC]
See?
[MUSIC]
And
this is where he goes, this would be
measure 16 he goes.
[MUSIC]
Where Earl would go
[MUSIC]
That standard tag lick.
This is Ralph's, one of Ralph's standard
tag licks.
And he would switch this around and do
slightly different things but
[MUSIC]
And when you hear it going by quickly you
don't really notice that but,.
[MUSIC]
but
there is index hitting the fourth string.
So without worrying about the left hand at
this point.
[MUSIC]
Pick the third, first,
fifth, third, first, fifth, fourth, first.
That index on the fourth.
[MUSIC]
So one, two, three, and.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Okay,
now here's the first solo for Salty Dog,
up to tempo.
[MUSIC]
That second to last meas
last measure should have been
[MUSIC]
Pull off.
[MUSIC]
Okay, now.
This is a fabulous break and it has these
same two notes and two forward rolls for
a lot of it.
Sometimes there's a Foggy Mountain
Breakdown roll.
So we start off with [SOUND] A three note
lead in, very standard.
Thumb, thumb, thumb, a lot of that's thumb
action.
[MUSIC]
It's a one and two and one and two and,
and then you're into it.
Now here he starts with a two to three
slide on the third string.
[SOUND] And as he does that, he hits the
second string.
[SOUND] And this is basically what I
started with, with the open strings.
It was this measure.
But now with the two to three slide, so
three, two, those are the strings, and
then, five, two one, five, three, one.
[MUSIC]
So again, two notes and
two forward roles, and then continuing.
[MUSIC]
And now I should mention the chords.
Pay attention the chords, as always.
Especially with a tune like this where
they're a little bit different.
It's not just G, C and D.
Or C, F and G.
It's,
[MUSIC]
it's G.
Two measures of that.
Two measures of the E chord.
And then we're right at the E chord as we
speak, here,
with that first fret of the second string.
[MUSIC]
Which is your C chord, but
with the index over one fret to the first
fret of the third string.
[MUSIC]
Ring on the second fret of the first open
second, index at the first fret of the
third.
Middle at the second fret, of the fourth
string.
[MUSIC]
And then you go to an A chord.
[MUSIC]
For two measures.
And you could just bar all four strings at
the second fret.
[MUSIC]
And then you go to a D-chord for
two measures.
[MUSIC]
So it's one measure of G.
One and two and one and two and one
measure of E,
two of A, one, two, one, two, and then D.
One two measures of D.
One, and, two, and.
And then back to two measures of G.
Now, if you're doing other back up,
you could do instead of jumping down to
the E chord, and that works, you could go
[MUSIC]
So you're just moving one fret at a time.
Start with your F position G chord.
[MUSIC]
Move it up one fret and
invert the index and middle fingers
[MUSIC]
And there's your A chor,
your E chord, sorry.
[MUSIC]
And them move it up one more fret and
invert the index and middle back.
[MUSIC]
So you have your F position A chord.
So it's F position G chord
[MUSIC]
Move it up one fret,
invert the inside two strings, second and
third string.
[MUSIC]
You have your D chord which is two frets
up from a regular D chord.
Move up one more fret and go to your F
position.
[MUSIC]
So you're between the fifth and
seventh frets and there's your A chord.
Which is two measures up from your G
chord.
G, G sharp, A.
And then for the D chord, you could play
down here or
you could jump up here to your F position
D.
Between the 10th and 12th frets.
So, we've gone.
[MUSIC]
Now we're on the E chord but,
but Ralph's not playing an E chord, it's
just fretting one string.
[MUSIC]
First fret of the second string which
interestingly, this is against an E chord
so if you wanna.
[MUSIC]
If you bar the index across the first
three strings at the fifth fret while your
middle's at the second fret,
of the fourth and ring's at the second
fret of the first.
[MUSIC]
It gives you an E augmented chord.
And I'm not going to get into the theory
of that right now but
it's the fifth note of the scale.
[SOUND]
Up one fret.
[SOUND]
And I'm going a half step.
And that's that first fret of the second
string so you have this kind of cool G, G.
[MUSIC]
And then you release it.
[MUSIC]
Okay, so you're at the first
fret of the second string, and I'm hitting
that with the thumb on the right hand.
Middle on the first, forward roll, another
forward roll
[MUSIC]
Now Ralph may well be hitting that with
the index finger.
That first note.
[MUSIC]
The Earl in me, what there is,
loves to start with the thumb there.
[MUSIC]
Ralph tends to
be more of an index driven, player.
He uses the index more than Earl does.
But I the, I still like the thumb coming
across to the second string.
[MUSIC]
And ag, and so,
the first full measure, measure two, is
two notes, two forward rolls.
Next measure, two notes, two forward
rolls.
This measure, two notes and two forward
rolls.
[MUSIC]
Again,
I'm bringing the thumb across to the
second string.
[MUSIC]
First string, with the middle.
[MUSIC]
Now, for the A chord, instead of [SOUND]
Fingering the whole A chord,
[MUSIC]
Ralph was just fretting the second fret of
the third string.
One note, it's an A note, so it really
gives you the feeling of A, and
the band is playing A, so you really know
it's A but,
you still have that open first string.
This is bluegrass abbreviation, bluegrass
banjo abbreviation.
[MUSIC]
Why do that when you oh,
only have to put down one finger on one
fret.
[MUSIC]
So, it's two notes, thumb and
middle on the second and first strings,
respectively.
The middle comes down to the second fret
of the third string and
do two forward rolls.
Fifth, third, first, fifth, third, first.
Thumb, index, middle, thumb, index,
middle.
So from the beginning you have, one, and
two, and one, and two, and one, and.
[MUSIC]
And then he repeats it for measure five.
[MUSIC]
Here comes Foggy Mountain Breakdown.
[MUSIC]
Two to three hammer out on the second.
Use the index and the right hand.
So the first string, repeat it, but
with the thumb hitting the hammer on on
the second string.
[MUSIC]
So, index, middle, thumb, middle.
Forward roll, fifth, second, first, fifth.
[MUSIC]
Then he does the exact same thing over
one string.
Again, Foggy Mountain Breakdown.
[MUSIC]
[SOUND] Two-to-three hammer-on on
the third string.
[MUSIC]
Index, middle and
I do it again with the thumb coming across
to the third string in the right hand.
Index, middle, thumb, middle.
[MUSIC]
And a three to two pull off.
[MUSIC]
Two to three hammer on twice.
[MUSIC]
Three to two pull off.
[MUSIC]
So index, middle, thumb, middle, thumb,
index, middle, I'm sorry.
Index, middle, thumb, middle, thumb,
index, with a pull off, on the left hand.
First string fifth string.
And then hammering On index to middle and
pulling off middle to index and then.
[MUSIC]
And
this is this cool lick where the index
comes into the fourth string.
We've already done this roll at the
beginning of this lesson but
[MUSIC]
So, now you just
ended with the fifth string.
So, for measure eight you're gonna lead
with the index.
[SOUND] On the third, middle, forward
roll.
With a pull off in the middle of it.
[MUSIC]
It's a quick pull off.
Like two sixteenth notes.
[MUSIC]
So third string, first string,
forward roll with a pull off.
Fifth, third, first, pulling off middle to
index.
[MUSIC]
And then, for the last forward roll,.
[SOUND] You go to the s,
I bring the index over to the second fret
of the fourth string.
[MUSIC]
To catch that
[MUSIC]
Second fret of the fourth string,
in the middle of a forward roll.
Fifth.
Fourth, first.
Again, this unusual thing, not for Ralph,
but for the rest of us.
With the index coming over to the fourth
string.
And then,
[MUSIC]
Then, measure nine is thumb on the third,
pinch the outside strings, fourth.
String.
Third string, okay?
So that first
half is, one and
two and one and
two and one and
two
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Now the second half.
[MUSIC]
Is
exactly the same as the first time
through.
So you do the two to three slide to the
second string.
Two forward rolls.
[MUSIC]
Fifth, second, first, fifth, third, first.
[MUSIC]
And then again you're on the E chord and
then I have the index on the first fret of
the second string.
[MUSIC]
And
again I'm bringing the thumb to the second
string.
[MUSIC]
First string.
[MUSIC]
Forward roll.
[MUSIC]
Fifth, third, first, open.
[MUSIC]
Now, instead of going.
[MUSIC]
Where it hits the second string,
first string, and then two forward rolls.
Fifth, third, first.
[MUSIC]
Fifth, third, first.
It's going.
[MUSIC]
He's changing it now.
Instead of going,.
[MUSIC]
He's going.
[MUSIC]
He's getting to that second fret of
the third string, instead of, first,
second, third, first.
Instead of, I'm sorry, first, second,
third, fourth.
Instead of being in the fourth position in
the measure, it's in the third position.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven,
eight.
So it's just a subtle change.
So it's second string.
Let's see let me just do this again.
[MUSIC]
Yeah,
I'm bringing my thumb to the second
string.
And again, Ralph may not but I like that
thumb.
It just feels better to me.
Open second, open first with the middle.
Thumb, middle.
And now you go straight to that second
fret of the third string with the thumb on
the right hand.
[MUSIC]
Forward roll after.
And go second, first, third, first, and
then a forward roll.
Fifth, third, first,
fifth, with that second fret still down
there on the third string.
[MUSIC]
And repeat.
[MUSIC]
And then Foggy Mountain Breakdown again.
[MUSIC]
And then.
[MUSIC]
And
this is exactly the same as measures six
and seven.
[MUSIC]
Except instead of
pulling off as you do in measure seven.
[MUSIC]
Like this, this time you just hammer's on.
[MUSIC]
Two to three hammer on the third string,
leading with the th, the index cuz you're
coming off the thumb.
[MUSIC]
Index, middle, thumb, middle.
Forward roll, fifth.
And now the hammer on, two to three on the
third string.
[SOUND] With the index, middle, to the
fifth string.
[MUSIC]
And then the tag ending.
[MUSIC]
So, index on the third,
cuz you just came off the fifth string, in
measure 15.
[MUSIC]
So, index on the third and
middle on the first.
Forward roll, fifth, third, first.
And you've got a three-to-two pull-off.
[MUSIC]
Quick.
Sixteenth note oriented, three to two pull
off.
[MUSIC]
So it's two notes and
two forward rolls again.
These two notes, index and middle in the
third and second stri, and first strings,
respectively.
Forward roll.
Fifth, third, first, and the pull off
three to two as you hit that third.
[MUSIC]
And last forward roll fifth,
fourth, first.
And I have the index over on the second
fret of the fourth string,
second fret of the fourth string.
[MUSIC]
Third string, quarter note.
Pinch the outside strings, quarter note.
Fourth, third, and you're going back into
it these are all quarter notes.
[MUSIC]
Setting up the last solo.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Okay now,
here's the second solo for Salty Dog, and
I'll play it once more up to tempo.
[MUSIC]
He loves that lick.
He does it four times in a row, and
just takes it right up til the vocal
starts again.
And right exactly where I stopped is where
the vocal starts, and
the tune starts over again.
You may not wanna do that if you're
playing this in a band or
something, because that's a real extended
sort of a thing there.
But you could kinda take out the last two
or something.
However you wanna do that.
Now at the very beginning of the tune he
has a three note lead in.
[MUSIC]
Here in measure 17, he's finishing up
the measure be, the solo before hitting
the third string quarter note.
Pinch on the outside strings.
And then there's a two note pick up.
Fourth, third.
These are all being quarter notes.
Notes.
[MUSIC]
And he begins as he did before.
[MUSIC]
He keeps doing this.
[MUSIC]
Both at the second measure and
measure ten.
And he's doing it again here in measure
18.
[MUSIC]
Two to three slides of the second string.
Using the middle finger again on the right
hand.
Fifth, second, first, fifth, third, first
so
he brings that index over to the third
string from the second string.
[MUSIC]
here.
Then
[MUSIC]
Now here this is a little different
[MUSIC]
cuz before he was going.
Second
[MUSIC]
Fifth second first fifth third first.
This time he's doing the same thing but.
[MUSIC]
A little change at the end.
Thumb [SOUND] comes over to the second
string and
you're at the first fret of the second
string.
[SOUND] Middle [SOUND] so thumb
[MUSIC]
Middle forward roll, fifth second first,
that's the same.
And then in the last forward roll, instead
of being [SOUND] Fifth, third, first,
he's going fifth, second, first.
[MUSIC]
Now, instead of going.
[MUSIC]
Which is what happened the first time you
played the A chord, and then the second
time he went.
[MUSIC].
[MUSIC]
What did he do
I'm sorry let me check this again.
[MUSIC]
I'm sorry the first time he went.
[MUSIC]
These two notes, and
then two forward rolls.
[MUSIC]
That being measure four.
And then, the second time, measure 13.
[MUSIC]
This time he's just hitting,
starting with that second fret of the
third string and
doing kind of a Foggy Mountain Breakdown
roll.
So.
[MUSIC]
And I'm doing, this time I'm going thumb,
middle, thumb, middle.
Second fret of the third string.
So third string, first, third, first.
And again, thumb, middle, thumb, middle.
Forward roll, fifth, third, first, fifth.
And then, just another variation on this
simple thing,
but it's so cool, these little
permutations.
Index on the second string at measure 21.
Because at, at the end of measure 20 he's
hitting the fifth string.
So make sure you start with the index at
the beginning of measure 21.
Two notes and two forward rolls.
Actually I'm wrong.
[SOUND] Those two notes.
Two more notes and then the forward roll.
So index on the second.
[SOUND] Middle on the first.
[SOUND] And then index on the second fret
fo the third string in the left hand.
[SOUND] Hit it with the thumb on the right
hand.
Thumb, middle, and then he goes, fifth,
third, first, fifth, completely open.
Even though he's still on an A.
[MUSIC]
Cuz he wants time to jump all
the way up here.
[MUSIC]
Except he actually lets go.
[MUSIC]
There.
He slides, let's say you're here.
[MUSIC]
I slide from somewhere around in here
fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, frets,
doesn't really matter.
Or you could even slide from up here.
[MUSIC]
Slide to the index on the second string,
in some indeterminent point down the neck
[MUSIC]
And get up
to the fifteenth fret of the second
string.
[MUSIC]
And
add the ring on the fifteenth fret of the
second string.
Add the ring and that's the second string
for the index.
Then the ring is on the seventeenth fret
of the first string.
[MUSIC]
And
it's kind of the Foggy Mountain Breakdown
roll.
Index and middle in the right hand.
And then you could bring the thumb across
to the second string.
[MUSIC]
And then open.
He gets way open.
Fifth, second, first, fifth.
[MUSIC]
Which gives him a chance to do this diggy,
diggy, as the lady said.
And you're at the tenth fret of the second
string.
And there's a whole lesson on this in the
intermediate section.
I believe it's the intermediate section.
[MUSIC]
Middle at the 10th fret of
the second string.
And again he's doing the Foggy Mountain
Break Down roll here.
He could be going index, middle, index,
middle but
I think he's probably bringing the thumb
across to the second string.
So it's index, middle, thumb, middle and
bend it each time.
[MUSIC]
And I try to let go of it.
Each time so I don't hear that, don't hear
the return so much.
[MUSIC]
And
bend it every time you hit that second
string.
Bend, bend, bend.
And you want to have a reasonable bend.
And if it's, if you're having a hard time
bending that string you may have too
too thick a gauge on your second string.
I use an O11.
On the second string.
[MUSIC]
And then he does it four times.
[MUSIC]
If you do that about ten more times,
people around you will flee in terror.
I guarantee it.
[MUSIC]
Okay,
so I'm gonna play this one more time.
The whole two note, I'm sorry, two break
thing slowly and then up to tempo.
One, two, three, four, one.
[MUSIC]
There's some timing how you back into the
the tune.
So a little more up to tempo.
[MUSIC]
One, two, three.
[MUSIC]
I can't stop, help.
Whew.
Okay, so there's Salty Dog, hope you enjoy
it.
[MUSIC]