Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Discuss the Banjo lesson: Waypoints- Learning the Banjo Neck- C Chord

You know those banjo pickers that know exactly where to put their fingers? I want you to be one, too. We continue our Waypoints Study where I systematically teach you the banjo neck in a fun and memorable way! You know the G chord, now let’s learn the “waypoints” on the banjo neck for the C chord and how to use them!

Thanks Ben this is great

1 Like

Thank you, I put a lot of work in these and I sure hope they’re helpful. Also, a huge shoutout to @Mark_Rocka for designing the Waypoints Diagram PDF. Thanks, Mark!


This would have saved me so many hours in 1977 when I started learning, this is really good stuff Ben.

1 Like

This is just outstanding @BanjoBen. I’ve been working on learning backup for the last 3 weeks and this is gonna boost it quite a few notches. Thanks for this lesson and thank you @Mark_Rocka for giving us the info to look at.


Thank you very much Great Master of the Strings. That lesson is a masterpiece, Ben. You’re Great!

1 Like

This one lesson is worth the price of membership. So awesome.

1 Like

Thanks! Make sure you check out the first lesson in this series as well:

1 Like

Another terrific Lesson from the Bach O’Banjo! I have not yet had a moment to print and try this lesson but just from watching, I know the power key that is there to unlock the neck mysteries… not only from the standpoint of “C” Waypoints but - for us novice players - the melodic and nice embellishments you throw in through the lesson.

Folks, this is a POWER LESSON - to work on several fundamentals all at the same time.

My only hope is that I can run through it enough to where some of them will just start to become “semi-automatic”.

Ben, after the Waypoints lesson fundamentals… it would be great to have a lesson that looks to tie in the “up the neck” Waypoints - but through chord transitions… like a transition from G to C in certain Waypoint positions, for example.

The thoughts boggle my mind as to how that might be done - but if anyone can break that down to help us do it, I know you can.

Anyway, thanks again for yet ANOTHER gem!

1 Like

We will, but we can’t put the cart in front of the horse. Let’s get these down pat :wink:

1 Like

I love this kinda lesson. Tho I can’t go all the way because of lack of skills. I stop with waypoints with scale. It’s really fun and as long as I can make the waypoints stuck in my head. That’s enough for me atm. Thanks Ben for a job well done.

1 Like

Of course… and to be honest… that could take me months to play cleanly!

In this manner, I was looking after my follow Banjo students who might be ready for that significant step.


Thinking about it, those students probably don’t need that lesson anyway,

However, one day… I will get there and thank you again! :+1:

Hi @BanjoBen This is a great group of lessons I wish I had access to 10 years ago. Partial chords are such an important part of learning Scruggs style and it’s so important to know where the chords are positioned on the fingerboard.

For the beginner student these lessons make it so easy to understand and drive home the message. I recall struggling to figure out how to finger these shapes as a banjo rookie working from TAB books and less informative video lessons. The countless queries I asked on the BHO for some guidance on this topic and the misleading advice I received which held back my progress.

Just a quick query on the descending Scale notes. Measure 19, 16th Fret sounds dissonant to my ear, 15th Fret sounds better as a transitional note. Was this a typo ?

If not a typo can you explain the theory why the 15th sounds better ?:star_struck:

Sure, great question! I do talk about this in the video somewhere, but I’m using the G major scale to walk between these C chord waypoints, because we’re approaching this lesson from the aspect of playing a C chord in a song in the key of G. The 16th fret is an F#, which is contained in the G scale. In the lesson, I point out that if that bothers you, you’re welcome to play the 15th fret and it would be fine to do so when in the key of G as well.

Essentially, I don’t want you to think of this lesson as being in the key of C (though it works great for that!), but rather a song in the key of G with a bunch of C chord measures in a row.

There are some songs that have the freedom to hang on certain chords for an indiscriminate amount of time, songs like Freeborn Man and others, where the band hangs on a certain chord till the singer signals the change when they come back in. This exercise mimics something like that, though anytime you’re over a C chord for 1, 2, or more measures there are pieces that you can use.


It’s probably that I’m easily amused… but the 31st measure that sounds like the banjo G lick played in C just makes me smile. It never occurred to me to even try that.

I’m enjoying these waypoint lessons so much!

1 Like

Careful @Mark_Rocka we still have to work thru the waypoints for D, E, F, A and B to complete the musical alphabet. More tags to come

1 Like

I’m ready for D! Then, hopefully we’ll start digging in to building our own licks around the waypoints. Ben, if you’re reading this, here’s my request for what I’d enjoy in future waypoint lessons:

First, we pick a waypoint. Next, we build some cool licks around the waypoint. Then, we dive in to theory about WHY these licks sound so good. I’m envisioning licks that incorporate lots of notes outside the major scale, which is what really tasty banjo playing tends to have, and lots of discussion about those notes, like when to use a flatted 5th and why it sounds good in some places and not others.

As an example, @archbancop’s last 2 verses in his Will the Circle Be Unbroken contest entry had some “out of the scale” notes in them, flatted 3rds, flatted 5ths, 7ths, etc. I think they sound great, and I’d love to learn how to incorporate them in to the waypoints so I can play them on the fly… and when and why to use each one.

1 Like

Great suggestion @Mark_Rocka I’ve yet to go back over the Waypoints lesson in C struggled to get my head round some of those scales and licks, it’s weird how some tunes flow naturally and we struggle with others, it was the same for Will the Circle Advanced section I still stumble thru it. Been working on the UTN Bag-o-licks this week and just love the Scruggs lick combo’s Discuss the Banjo lesson: Bag O' Licks- Up the Neck


Great suggestion!

1 Like


Even more than the occasional notes that are outside the major key, I dig how masters use these notes to pull into the major key’s NEXT chord.

You know what I mean?

Those notes that are ear-benders that transition into the next chord change - either to resolve back into the mayor key or tease more with no major notes with that next chord… only finally to resolve.

Studying those ideas and changes can be so fun they make you smile and shake your head uncontrollably when studied or heard.

1 Like