Discuss the Banjo lesson: Will the Circle Be Unbroken Build-a-Break



To me, this is what makes playing banjo fun. Let’s start with the basic melody consisting only of rolls and pinches. Then, take the same melody and add ornaments to beef it up. THEN, let’s get Scruggsy and add some slick licks to really bring it to life!


I’ve been waiting for this song for a bit so thank you so much for this. I’ll start out saying that I’ve only been playing for 2 years now, so I’m not advanced. However, after reviewing the lesson, I didn’t think you had to be if I just focused on the basic melody without all the fanciness.

That being said I’m having trouble getting it to sound right. When you play I can hear the melody in between all of the fillers, but when I play, I can only hear it part of the song. I don’t think it has to do with speed, although that might be part of it. I think it has to do more with cadence or order of the picking. Without me being there in the flesh, what sorts of things can I do to improve that part of the playing? Is there a lesson on how to read/play tabs? Maybe I’m not playing something right.

Thank you for all you do, the site is great.


Hi Brian, I believe Ben is heading off for a few days. I have had a quick look at the lesson and I see it’s in the Advanced section However I believe if you work though the first part and try adding the basic ornaments.

As a second year level student you should be able to cope. I always challenged myself when I was a beginner trying stuff well beyond my skill level. It did me no harm and helped pave the way for a time when I was ready for more advanced stuff. Take your time work through it at your own pace, learn two or three measures at a time. I would encourage you to look at the Beginning Learning Track. Lessons on Rolls, Slides, Hammer-ons and Pull Offs, Chord Shapes. Get the foundational stuff down pat and other things start to fall into place. I would also suggest you try to post a video of yourself playing what you can. That will let Ben see how best he can help.


Here is Ben’s Lesson on TAB. It’s in the Beginner Section.


Do you have a smart phone you could use to get a video of your playing? If so, upload it to YouTube and link it in the Video Swap forum. (The forum is having issues with direct video upload at the moment.)

We can give you more specific tips if we can see you playing. Just make sure both of your hands are visible in the video.


Glad to have you, Brian! These guys have given excellent advice. I can only classify the lessons as one skill level, but most all my build-a-break lessons start with a very basic version for most anyone.

It sounds like you’re not using the TEF tab files. Check that out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzS9NxVuNbg


Whoa…upload a video of me playing? That’s almost like playing for an audience. I’ll see what I can do, but those are some great suggestions. I’ll check out the TEF thing. I only downloaded the TAB file from the lesson. Look for an update in the next couple of days.


Thank you so much Ben for adding the Melody highlights. I don’t know if this will continue but I hope so…Thanks so much. I do a lot of uppicking and it really helps. Ron