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How to Play the 5-String Banjo

How to Play the 5-String Banjo

Pete Seeger (1919–2014) was a national treasure who had a long and exceptional career as a folk singer and social activist. Overall, he appears on (or is otherwise associated with) an astonishing total of 123 Smithsonian Folkways recordings.

In 1948, Seeger wrote a manual entitled How to Play the 5-String Banjo (originally self-published, the third edition was reprinted in 2013). Then, in 1954, Seeger recorded an instructional album on playing a 5-string banjo. The manual and the recording have influenced aspiring banjo players for generations.

On the album Seeger explains and provides examples of basic tunings, strums, and techniques such as “hammering on” and “pulling off” and other aspects of playing. He covers the basics of a variety of styles, including “frailing,” 3-finger, blues, jazz, Spanish flamenco, and Latin American rumba styles.

Liner notes provide background information, a complete transcript, and musical notation.

Track Listing

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101
A Basic Strum Pete Seeger 1:09
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102
Now with the left hand Pete Seeger 0:22
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103
Now with the index finger Pete Seeger 0:56
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104
The Fifth String Pete Seeger 0:43
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105
Now take that same song Pete Seeger 0:25
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106
Hammering On Pete Seeger 1:16
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107
Here's a little bit of the Pete Seeger 0:21
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108
Pulling Off Pete Seeger 1:10
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109
Well, now, if you study the Pete Seeger 0:46
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110
Double Thumbing Pete Seeger 0:49
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111
Now, for just one more time Pete Seeger 0:23
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112
Now, not all songs, alfterall Pete Seeger 0:55
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113
Here's the song. 'Hard Ain't It Hard' Pete Seeger 0:28
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114
Frailing Pete Seeger 0:59
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115
In the G tuning, you might try Pete Seeger 1:02
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116
Now, frailing is the best way Pete Seeger 0:50
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117
Three-Finger Picking Pete Seeger 1:14
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118
Here's another devleopment of Pete Seeger 1:01
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119
Here's the song, "Cindy" Pete Seeger 0:21
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120
A Loud Strum Pete Seeger 0:55
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121
Here is a variation of the above Pete Seeger 0:48
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122
Three Micscellaneous Postscripts Pete Seeger 1:06
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123
If you ever want to play a Pete Seeger 0:46
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124
A roll is a special banjo effect Pete Seeger 0:24
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125
3/4 and 6/8 Time Pete Seeger 0:57
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126
Using this method, and a little Pete Seeger 0:26
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127
For a more sustained effect Pete Seeger 1:37
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128
Incidentally, this type of Pete Seeger 1:13
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129
Now 6/8 time is the same Pete Seeger 1:05
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130
Blues and Jazz Pete Seeger 1:04
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131
Another common blues guitar Pete Seeger 0:38
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132
Here's a sample blues passage Pete Seeger 0:28
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133
Spanish and South American Guitar Techniques Pete Seeger 0:50
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134
Here's one way to get a rhumba Pete Seeger 0:55
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136
Here's still another way of Pete Seeger 1:36
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137
This last pattern can be Pete Seeger 1:00

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