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Banjo Lessons: “The Hee Haw Theme”

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[MUSIC]
Well
one of the most fun TV shows to come down
the pike in a long time was Hee Haw.
And if you ever saw that show back in the
day, you might have been turned on
to some of the banjo playing that was in
the theme for that.
This is the Hee Haw theme played by Bobby
Thompson, who is right at the very top of
my favorite banjo player list along with
Earl and Bale and a few others.
But he is, Bobby Thompson was just a
genius with a banjo.
Way ahead of his time.
Amazing right hand.
His timing was impeccable.
Doing melodic style in the 50s, and
playing fiddle tunes early on, and, this
is his playing on the Hee Haw theme,
it's not, there's no melody or anything,
he's basically just playing licks.
And it's just fascinating to watch his
mind work,
I'm sure he was just kind of improvising
through all of this and it's impeccable.
So, I hope I will do it justice here,
a little bit of the Hee Haw theme, Bobby
Thompson, one, two, one.
[MUSIC]
Bobby Thompson's ideas are just so
exciting.
Lots of scale patterns, blues, all sorts
of great stuff in here.
So, well he starts on the, the two count
like one and two, and one and
two and, and there's the downbeat there on
the ninth fret of the first string.
So he has that four note lead in.
Open first, fifth part of the second with
the middle finger,
and then I just hit the fifth string and
as I'm doing that I slide the middle up to
the tenth fret of the first string.
Now, I'm there and now I add the index
from the ninth fret of the first string,
and I do two backward rolls.
[MUSIC]
Middle on the seventh fret of the second,
ring on the seventh fret of the first.
All scale patterns here.
Fifth string, fourth fret of the first
with index,
middle on the fifth fret of the second,
backward roll to the fifth string.
Another backward roll with the ring at the
seventh fret of the third.
Index at the seventh fret of the first.
[MUSIC]
Keep the middle where it is and
let go of everything else for the fourth
measure.
Open first and then two forward rolls, add
the index to the fifth fret of the third
while you have that middle on the fifth
fret of the second.
Let go of the second and just keep that
fifth fret of the third.
Still fifth fret of the third with the
index,
add the ring on the seventh fret of the
fourth.
Another forward roll, open second, let go
of the index.
You're just letting go of one finger at a
time.
Ring at the seventh fret of the fourth,
open third, open first.
Okay, so this is this downward scaling
pattern.
[MUSIC]
Now he
goes up.
[MUSIC]
So open third,
seventh fret of the fourth, two backward
rolls.
Add the fifth fret with the third.
Now keep that index where it is on the
fifth fret of the third and
let go of the ring.
Backward roll.
And now I switch to the ring and
middle on, on the left hand.
[MUSIC]
Middle and index,
I'm talking about the left, left hand now.
Pinky, middle, index, middle, index, ring,
middle, middle, index.
So you've gone down.
[MUSIC]
Up, and down.
[MUSIC]
Now here's an interesting thing,
because he's going down, for the C chord.
Two backward
rolls.
And then the index, I use the ring and
middle here on the left hand.
Two backward rolls and
then I slide the ring down to the seventh
fret of the first and the index.
On the fifth fret of the second,
[MUSIC]
let go of the ring.
Now he hits this blues note right here
this F note,
the sixth fret of the second string for
this forward roll.
But then brings it right back to the fifth
fret
of the second string as he hits the fifth
fret
of the third string with the index so
it's.
[MUSIC].
But now you're back in G with this bluesy
thing.
[MUSIC]
This is all this
[MUSIC] all that kind of stuff.
So you've got,
[MUSIC]
so it's a forward roll with the sixth fret
of the second string.
Fifth, second, first, fifth, second,
first.
Add the index on the fifth fret of the
third.
Index, middle, now backward roll, keep
that index on the fifth fret of the third.
And then add the pinky on the eighth fret
of the fourth.
Two backward rolls, open third.
And index or middle at the third fret of
the fourth string.
And a Scruggs lick, you finally land it at
home with a Scruggs lick.
And another one with a pull-off
[MUSIC]
and now for the D chord.
This is a great exercise working out of a
D chord and
doing some hammer-ons.
Quarter note backward roll.
Hammer two to four.
As you hit that second string which is at
the third fret.
It's an alternating thumb roll.
Thumb, index, thumb, middle, so
you're hammering on two to four on the
fourth index to ring.
With the middle at the third fret on the
second and
pinky on fourth fret of the first.
Then to the four on the third string.
Then the thumb comes to the second string,
this is all Scruggs oriented stuff.
Ring back on the fourth part of the third
and then another alternating thumb.
Open first and now the Scruggs Lick, and
then do a C chord on measure 22.
Forward roll, backward, middle comes to
the second fret of
the third string, has the open first
string there at the end.
Back to the C chord on the first two
strings.
Hammers on to that and then he hammers on
again in measure 24 and
I love this little lick that he does.
Quarter note and then he adds that pinky
on the third fret of the first string,
which just is a really pretty sound.
Just adds that pinky and then goes back to
the C at measure 25,
so measure 24 is, good hammer on with the
middle finger.
[MUSIC]
Back to the C,
then sliding three to four, and then
Scruggs.
Scruggs.
That's what I love about Bobby's playing,
cuz he can just play like Earl or
he can go single string, or he can do
melodics up and down the neck.
As you can plainly see here.
Guy was an absolute genius.
So let me play this one more time up the
tempo.
[MUSIC]
It's an Old Hee Haw Theme, Bobby Thompson.
Enjoy.
[MUSIC]