Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Discuss the Banjo lesson: Wayfaring Stranger

Two solos for this one in A minor, but we’re playing out of the G minor position and capoing at the 2nd fret. The first solo is the basic melody, while the 2nd solo has some super slick bluesy thrills!

I’m just starting the basic melody…aaaand loving it. Popular at local jams here.

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there are 2 ways one can go with this tune,Ben’s Capo 2nd G minor approach or open “G” out of A minor positions,it’s Hard to decide,Ben’s rendition is Freekin’ AWESOME,what to do,what to do???


You know what, I was listening closely to the melody when he was playing the Bluesy 1st pt with all those great licks and I discovered that if you can play this tune you can play that old “Jazz Classic” Sumertime,when the living is easy" with a few minor alterations ,WOW

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@BanjoBen In measure 47 do you “pop” those two slides by vamping?

Hmmm, I’m trying to imagine exactly what you mean. I pick the first two strings right on the downbeat of beats 1 and 2, then slide immediately. You can hear what I do at 1:09 in this video:

In this video at 6:48, you referenced being able to “pop” the slides in those measures or not. I was curious if you were getting the pop by vamping or via another method?

Ahhh, gotcha. Actually, I’m talking about the 2nd fret double stop in measure 46. What I mean by “pop” is to cut it off with my fret hand and not let it ring out, so that it makes a more percussive sound.

Ohh! I see now. Thanks.

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Fantastic lesson @BanjoBen so many interesting & challenging licks to learn

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Was thinking that myself. You can definitely play this song in Am in open G (no capo) - fab bluesy arrangement though!


What chord shapes do you use in the Gmin position for rolling backup and vamping?


I usually use the roll in measure 2, and for vamping I use an Em bar chord at the 3rd fret. Playing the solo out of Gmin is a good idea, but when it’s time to play the chords for backup they ain’t exactly easy.

Hi Frantisek, welcome to the forum, glad to have you here.

Here is a tab I put together for the up the neck chords I’m using. You can use whatever vamp pattern you like, throw in licks, it’s totally up to you. In the last measure, I put a chord pattern for Amin7b5, it’s just there for reference; it’s a tough one to make, I’m sure there are others though. In the tune, I just chose to do the same lick that’s in the first solo.
BUVampWaringStranger.tef (2.4 KB)

This backup would pick up in the second measure.


Kinda confused on this because of my lack of theory and minor chords on banjo. So this lesson actually has no Aminor chords? I love this tune and play the basic version pretty well. I found a weekly jam I’ve been attending but the heartbeat is mainly I’d say Celtic. Almost every tune full of minors. Very little Bluegrass but It’s all that’s available to me here and I want to learn. The family are Swedish and their fun. They do play this but in bminor. I couldn’t find any tutorials to kinda point me in the right direction. (could anyone help me before tues). I did find another version in aminor but it’s like completely different from Ben’s. (and not in a good way, but good). Why is that? Is it because Ben is hammering on first/third b string and that’s not a aminor?
Butch B.

Hi Butch, Sorry I can’t offer any advice. My knowledge of playing in a Minor key is what I have learned from @BanjoBen beyond that I know nothing.

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Hey @Butch,

The song is in the key of A minor and has a lot of A minor chords, but Ben’s arrangement is played with a capo at 2 so you’re playing out of the position of G minor, which is easier than open Amin since you can use Gmaj rolls. While you’re playing in Amin, you’re playing out of Gmin, if that makes sense.

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This is also why it’s helpful to use a Nashville Number System chart rather than a standard chord chart, because you can play in whatever key/position you want and the chart will stay the same.