Banjo For Beginners

The ultimate guide to banjo for beginners.

Banjo Rolls

Rolls are what make Scruggs style. Period. Banjo rolls are basically Arpeggios, or a series of notes that combine to make a chord. Here’s another wikipedia article that you might find interesting on the same subject.

We can start with the basic banjo roll. Some quick points on notation, the banjo strings are (short string up) 1 (high D), 2 (B), 3 (Low G), 4 (Low D), and 5 (high G). T= thumb, I= index and M=middle. T, I or M indicate which digit you are supposed to play the note with.

5th

4th

3rd

2nd

1st

T

For example, in the above tab, the thumb is supposed to play the 3rd string. I am purposely leaving these tabs without designated timing, so that you can play it at your speed and adjust accordingly. Do all of these rolls open at first (without fretting anything with your left hand). As you feel comfortable, add in the left hand, doing what chords you feel comfortable with. (Link to chords)

Here is a basic roll.

5th

4th

3rd

2nd

1st

I

M

T

I

M

T

I

M

Here are some other rolls, listed somewhat in order of difficulty.

5th 4th 3rd 2nd 1st
T
I
M
T
I
M
T
M

This is a forward roll

5th 4th 3rd 2nd 1st
M
I
T
M
I
T
M
I

This is a backwards roll

5th 4th 3rd 2nd 1st
T
I
M
T
M
I
T
M

This is a forward-backward roll

These rolls are very helpful to learn when beginning. Eventually you will be able to break free and just improvise rolls on the spot. This is fun. Amazingly fun. Happy Picking!

One Response to 'Banjo Rolls'

  1. Lora says:

    This website is amazing and a great resource! When I have more time, I’m gonna poke around some more! Thanks!

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