A Quick Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

by Jonathan Galletti

The zombie apocalypse can be a real drag. Luckily, nothing wards off that craving for brains quite like the sound of a 5-string banjo!

  • Step 1: Don’t get bitten.
  • Step 2: Play banjo!

If you’re like me, watching The Walking Dead on Sunday nights has become somewhat of a ritual. Every time I hear the sound of those haunting strings start, I get ready to see what trouble Rick and the group will get themselves into. There is just one thing wrong with the opening theme, IT’S NOT ON A BANJO! So, I decided to fix that.


It's that time again!!! #walkingdead #banjo #💀 @amcthewalkingdead @amctalkingdead

A post shared by Jonathan Galletti Music (@jonathangalletti) on


The main challenge to coming up with this arrangement is that the standard banjo tuning, gDGBD, would not work because you would need to go down to a low C to stay as true as possible to the original sound. So, I worked it out in C tuning, gCGBD (like Earl used on Home Sweet Home!). This worked out ok, but required the use of a hammer-on/pull-off lick on the Eb minor part. I found that this slowed me down and lost that signature driving sound of the theme. I finally settled on f#CGBD, so that every note could be plucked and keep as much resonance as possible.

The Rolls

I suggest three different roll patterns for this arrangement, though, much like choosing a zombie slaying weapon, there are many options and you should use whatever works best for you. I start with just alternating between my thumb and middle finger because I like how it has more attack than doing TMIM IMTM IMIM TMIM. For the second pattern, I just use a forward reverse roll. For the third pattern, I suggest using the same forward reverse roll, BUT instead of hitting the 5th string with your thumb, I hit the 2nd string with my thumb. This may seem strange if you are not used to using your thumb on that string much, but I am able to get a more driving tone like that. If you are not comfortable with that, an alternative roll pattern would be TIMIMITI MIMI TIMI.

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I hope you enjoy this arrangement of The Walking Dead theme and remember: the next time you find a zombie herd scratching at your door, just grab your banjo and invite them in for a jam… that’s the way Earl would have done it!

If you still need help with your banjo chord shapes you can download a free  banjo chord chart here!


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