Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Discuss the Banjo lesson: Bag O' Licks– Tony Wray Banjo

Tony Wray drops by the Cabin once again to showcase some hot banjo licks, and also the foundational utility roll he uses to play backup!


This lesson is categorized as “advanced,” but I encourage all pickers to watch it! Tony’s utility roll is for all skill levels, and the approach and style topics we discuss throughout the lesson are worth their weight in gold!

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Yet another insane lesson from Tony and @BanjoBen! An awesome wealth of knowledge here.

Oh man… Been waiting for this one!

WOW @BanjoBen A lot of great material in this lesson which I am sure is going to keep me busy for the next few months… Please pass on our grateful thanks to Tony for sharing his knowledge and experience with us.

I don’t play banjo, but I just watched the intro video. Good stuff throughout. The triplets for a measure at 0:22… Yeah!!!

I really might have to learn to play banjo.

Definitely do that, it’s the best decision you’ve never made :wink:


I second that non-decision… uh… wait… :thinking:

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Good stuff indeed !
But watching this lessons, I realized that I don’t make my back-up rolling interesting enough… I just roll, hardly putting in a lick.
Question to @BanjoBen and to you all guys and gals : during a jam, should I try to improvise some licks (I notice that I stumble a lot in that case), or should I really train a limited set of “Bag O’ Licks” and apply those during backup ? Thanks so much in advance !

That’s a great question @Erwin1 and one I have tried to find an answer to for many years. Up until a few years ago back-up was a topic that was rarely taught in any detail. Some Vamping, Rolls and a few licks. It seemed to me that many teachers would shy away at the slightest mention of backup and improvisation. Put in altogether and using it at a jam didn’t work for me.

My constant nagging finally persuaded @BanjoBen to try to redress this and he has produced some excellent lessons on back up and I am starting to see some progress in my back up skills . For me progress towards improvisation skills is a long way off. I came to the banjo late in life and I have not had a lot of opportunity to play with others and when I do I struggle to keep up. It think it helps to learn Ben’s Bag O Licks, It all adds to your knowledge and playing skills.

Hey @Archie , thanks so much for your insights ! I should mention however that I use “improvise” in a very loose manner : it means for me, in backup, not intentionally knowing what your playing (as you do when you take a break you studied hard), and just let your fingers do the work…

You should try stuff, absolutely, even when you fail. That’s a big way to get better. Just keep in mind what other folks are doing in the song and stay out of their way.

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This may end up being my favorite lesson, It’s just awesome!:sunglasses:

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Excellent lesson. Thank you Ben and Tony.

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Hearing all the talk about “Triplet`s” in lick #4 I felt like the lesson was just for me… LOL


Very informative and very entertaining. Thanks for the info and the morning laugh guys.

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Im sure glad Im a Gold Pick member, nice

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Is all of Tony Wray’s licks for just the G chord?

No, in the preview you’ll notice that he plays the licks over the 1, 4, and 5.

Thank you Ben