Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Discuss the Banjo lesson: Wreck of the Old 97 Build-a-Break

Google Chrome downloads PDF/TEF files to your download folder check there. You’ll also need a PDF reader to open the PDF file such as Adobe Acrobat Reader which is FREE

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Nice playin’ Leo!


Today they work. Yay! Not sure what the deal was. I worked in IT (website development/maintenance) for 20+ years, so I am not technically challenged. And having dealt with people having issues with my department’s website, I am pretty good at what to try/troubleshoot (refresh, restart, try a different browser, see if other files will open, etc.). So I was stumped after trying all those things. But today it works, oh well! :slight_smile:


OK - Measure 39.
The tab says fret at 7 & 5 using fingers 2 & 1…and 2-1 for frets 5-4 and 2-1 for frets 4-2…all on strings 1 & 3. This is difficult.
I see in the video you are using your pinky (4) and index (1). I kinda naturally fell into this before I noticed the tabs indicating the use of different fingers

Is this a case of -
a) a tab misprint
b) everyone plays it differently in order to be comfortable
c) the tab is right and we’re both just practicing our mistakes.

Are these the markings you’re talking about? These are actually markers for which picking fingers to use, not which fretting fingers to use.



Yes I agree with @Michael_Mark It’s a two finger pinch 1. Index 2. Middle quite common for @BanjoBen to use that finger combination.

Watch the video it helps when your reading the TABs

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Doh! My wife wore her “I’m with Stupid” shirt today…and it was accurate.
I realized my mistake as I was driving into town.

Thank you for your patience & instruction. :+1:


You were playing banjo whilst driving ? Man even I cant do that - You have my fullest admiration gif


Like everything else, all it takes is practice.
Here, hold my beer.


Hi Luke, your little brother sounds like he has the music in him and a bright future.
Thanks for putting his video on.
Don H


Hi Don welcome to @BanjoBen 's Forum. Yes Leo sure does have the music in him in fact the entire Lindblom family has a unique musical gift. Their neighbour’s must welcome the days when they head out to play a concert. That’s the only time they get any piece and quite. gif

Seriously though since @Flatpickin_Libby and the rest of the family became Gold Pick Members of they have added so much value to everyone’s membership through the content they share with us here on the Forum.


What a blast of a song to learn! I love the build - simple to complex. And when I play with my mute off (wife is out haha), it sounds so good! thanks @BanjoBen


Is it OK if I use my 2nd and 3rd finger in my fretting had to do the pull-off’s in measure 47 and 48? I started doing them learning the Unclouded Day Scruggs lick. I heard Ben say something about trying to use 1st finger in 1st fret, 2nd finger in 2nd fret, 3rd in third when possible. I watched his video on Unclouded Day and I thought I saw him doing pull-offs that way but now I’m not so sure. Hard to tell since he keeps his fingers so dagum close to the strings! I got to using 2nd and 3rd fingers in these pull-offs and it got to feeling so natural I started do them in Foggy Mountain Rolls. Is this a habit I want to form or should I keep agile with 1st and 2nd finger pull-offs on 2nd and 3rd fret?

So, a general question about the speed that this is played, and the importance, or not, of being able to play this fast. I am enjoying learning this song. And, after playing for 2 finally have an understanding of melody and filler notes. The song is also helping immensely with my timing. For the first time I am actually tapping my foot with the metronome.
However, I am finding learning the song very hard. This is basically because every measure is different. Thus, I always look had to look at the tab in order to play the song. Which means that I have to play slower. So, my question is, is how important is it to learn this song, and the others in this course, at a faster BPM. If I can get this at 100 BPM, and play it well, am I getting the full benefit of the lessons in the course.

It’s way more important to be able to play it cleanly without the tab than to play it fast with the tab. The tab is a great learning tool, but it’s a lousy crutch. If you go to a jam, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to keep up if you rely on the tab.

Break the song up in to as many pieces as you need to in order to memorize it. I’ll start with as little as 2 measures and just play it on repeat until my fingers play the notes automatically. Then go on to the next 2 measures, learn, then combine what you know. Keep on until the whole song in locked in.

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Thanks Mark_Rocka,
I have been learning the song in the three sections that it is broken down into. But, I have never had such a hard time recalling a song without the tab. Some of it has been drilled into my brain simply by repetition. I will keep working at it.

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@pmartin462, I wanted to take a second and let you know you’re not alone. I’m trying to cram in as many old standards as possible for the new jam group I found. I’ve been listening to this one in the car for the past few days and thought “I’ll be able to knock this one out in no time.”

What’s that old saying? “Pride goes before the fall”? Yeah… I’m 2 days in to it and still can’t play the basic rolls section consistently. I know part of the reason is that Ben is hitting some melody notes on a reverse roll, which feels really weird to me. What that tells me is that it’s a skill that I am lacking, so this song will hopefully help to develop it. And what’s with my fingers not wanting to play those simple quarter notes in measures 22 and 23!? Jeez! I have to focus intently to get those 8 simple notes right.

So, so much for nailing down 3 new songs this week. I’m glad I decided to hit this song, though. It has exposed a weakness in my playing.

Hope you’re making progress, and Happy Thanksgiving!


I am wondering why the 12 measure has 1/4 noted and the 17 measure has 1/2 notes. Does it have to do with the 1/2 rest in the 17 measure, which means that there is no 1/4 note gap/rest before picking the next string.

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@Mark_Rocka I am not a religious person, but it would be a miracle if I could learn three songs in one week. Takes me weeks…sometimes months…to learn one song. Although it is getting easier the more I practice.


Measure 17 is exactly the same as the 1st measure because it’s leading you into the next verse of the song. The first run is just the melody notes all by themselves. Measure 17 starts the next verse which takes the melody and adds rolls to them. Measure 33 is the same at 1 and 17, except it adds an open G and a pinch before the 2 melody notes.

I’m not sure if that answers your question. If not, let me know and I’ll try again.

The thing about banjo is that once you get enough songs under your belt, there’s a LOT of plug and play licks that you’ll find in so many songs. There have been a couple I’ve learned that I literally already knew every lick and was able to nail down in under an hour. It was just muscle memory training. This song was not one of them. :wink: