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The Four Essential 5-String Banjo Rolls

[fa icon="calendar'] Jul 7, 2017 10:44:54 AM / by Lawrence Witt posted in 3 Finger, beginners banjo, Bluegrass, Learning Banjo

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With a few chords under their belt, and perhaps a plectrum to hand, almost anyone can have fun strumming away on the banjo. In fact, as newcomers to the instrument that's where most of us tend to start out. If you wish to unlock the instrument's unique sound, however, you will have to learn one of the unique styles used to play it.

In the case of 3-finger style, that means mastering the art of the roll pattern.

A roll pattern is a series of eight notes picked repeatedly with the thumb, index, and middle fingers on the right hand (if right handed, opposite if left handed). By playing patterns over different chord shapes you create a stream of arpeggios or ‘broken chords'. This means picking each note of the chord one after another as opposed to strumming them together, and is what gives 3-finger style such a distinctive sound.

In bluegrass and 3-finger banjo the vast majority of tunes are made up of these different roll patterns. The patterns may be chopped and changed to suit each song but can always ultimately be traced back to a few core ideas.

As a beginner, learning all the variations on 5-string banjo rolls is neither necessary nor desirable. All you need to kickstart your playing are these four essential rolls: forward, backward, forward-backward, and mixed.

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How To Begin Playing 3-Finger Banjo - Lesson 2

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 4, 2015 2:54:21 PM / by Bennett Sullivan posted in 3 Finger, 5-String Banjo, banjo lesson, Playing Tips, banjo rolls, banjo tips, bluegrass

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You've practiced for a week, and now it's time to add your left hand!

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