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Banjo Lessons: Keith Tuning Pegs - Part 2: “Boil Them Cabbage Down”

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right now let's learn a couple of tunes
using the tuners.
We'll start with Boil them Cabbage Down,
our old standby.
And we'll just use the second string,
which is what Earl used when he wrote
Earl's breakdown.
Now I had a chance to have
dinner with Earl out in out in
the midwest maybe four years ago or
something and we were sitting there.
And he was with his son Gary.
And, we were talking about the pegs, you
know, that Earl first came up with.
Especially for Earl's breakdown, when he
did it just by ear.
He was not using any actual tuners.
He just did it just by ear.
And tried to get it as close as he could.
And if you listen carefully, midway
through the tune,
you can hear he doesn't quite get back.
Quite all the way back to that,
that note on the second string.
And he's supposed to go from there.
he knew it would sound terrible so he went
to the third string and went.
Then he went off mic and
got it back in tune so he was in tune
after that.
And he apparently had done a break.
He told me this story also.
He had done one time through, they had
taken a, had a good take before that but
the fiddle wasn't, the fiddler wasn't
happy with his break.
So they redid the break I'm sorry, redid
the whole tune and in the process.
Without Earl knowing it they erased the
original take where the banjo was perfect.
And so they left the studio and then Earl
well why don't you take that first one
that we did and
they said, oh, we just erased over that to
record the second tune.
So that's the one that got away.
What we know of as Earl's Breakdown,
Earl's a little out of tune on that one
Which is fine, he was just doing it by
But we're having dinner and he mentioned
that we were talking about dreams or
something like that and, and Gary Scruggs,
Earl's son said, Dad tell em' about how
you write, wrote Earl's breakdown.
And Earl said that he wrote that in a
He had this dream about D tuning.
Doing that and he woke up and
wrote Earl's breakdown, so this is all
because Earl had a dream about doing this.
Then Bill Keith came along and figured out
a way to do it so the,
rather than drilling holes in the peg
head, he could just have these stops in
the pegs, which is how everyone does it
today with these Keith pegs.
There's another company that does it too
the Keith pegs are the superior ones if I
Give a plug to Bill Keith's company Beacon
So what we're gonna do is play
a little bit of Boil Them Cabbage Down.
It's gonna sound like this.
So what I'm doing is.
I'm kind of starting with the tuner
detuned down to A.
You get, this is one way you can do it.
That's the first measure of.
Boil them Cabbage Down.
Start with a low tune note.
As a quarter note and then as you're
tuning it up,
that's the second quarter note.
One, two, three, four.
Three being the first string and the fifth
string being four.
Or you could start with it.
Tuned up, and do a really quick D tuning.
[SOUND] So you have.
So the C, quarter note forward rolling.
And then I have you playing an open first
two strings at the end of the C chord,
even though it's a G against the C.
It gives you time to get back down to
And do that same thing to the D seventh.
Quarter note on the fourth
string giving you enough time to get back
to the, the second string peg.
And then this time the C.
You can pinch on the C because you're just
gonna go
slide two to three on the third string.
And the middle is sitting right over that
second fret of the third string.
Alternating thumb, alternating thumb on
the B seventh.
So you've got.
I like that D tuning quickly.
Cuz you hear that.
And then back up, slowly.
One, two, three, four.
One, two, three, four.
So there's Boil them Cabbage Down.