Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Discuss the Guitar lesson: Sweet By-and-By- Fingerstyle

https://banjobenclark.com/lessons/sweet-by-and-by-fingerstyle-guitar

If you know me, you know old-time hymns are my favorite tunes, and this one is no different! This arrangement is in the key of C and it’s a GREAT one to learn how to play fingerstyle guitar. It’s not too hard, but still tasty and fun to hear.

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Love it! Hey, about a month ago, my daughter and I played the fingerstyle Banjo Ben version of “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” to rousing applause at our Church. Kind of shocked us to be honest, but maybe a tribute to the quality of B.B.'s arrangements. This lesson hymn would be PERFECT to add on to “Just a Closer Walk” to make a medley of the two songs; both in the key of C.

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In my mind, one of the big takeaways on this lesson, is learning the bi-modal roots of Fingerstyle; That being the bass-part with its basic and walking parts, and the melody part. To test Banjo Ben’s methodology, I grabbed a scrap blank tab and created an arrangement of “I Saw The Light” in three easy steps: 1) Add measures with the Chord symbol above the measure for reference 2) Add the Bass notes with walking transitions as needed to each measure. 3) then add the melody notes above the bass notes and syncopate them to taste. Sounds Great! With this, I feel fairly confident I can write my own basic tab to most melodies. What can I say now about writing Fingerstyle tab but, “Praise the Lord, I Saw the Light” ! :slightly_smiling_face:

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@Deere_Crossing, that is good to know. Never looked at it like that. And yes that is how it sounds. Bass part with notes alternating between root and 5th with walking part included as necessary when switching between chords. And the melody part with fill-ins and improvisations as necessary. All to fall within a chord shape as far as possible. And together a beautiful sounding song! I mean if I got it right. To me, it is always good when someone experienced provided the music. Btw, the first music I learnt after joining this forum is the flat pick version(s) of this song. I did not know this finger-style version existed until this your post that pulled this thread up. This is now on my to-learn list.

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Y’all have me figured out! Haha! Let’s hear that “I Saw the Light” arrangement! I’m a proud, proud teacher :wink:

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Sure, you are a great music trainer/teacher, Ben!
Luke 6:40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. :slight_smile:

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Love this tune @BanjoBen am I right in thinking this is Travis Picking Style? I’d like to try an improvised banjo backup to play along with this. Is there a roll pattern that would neatly fit this without overwhelming the guitar solo.

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It would be really tough to roll on the banjo and not interfere with what’s going on. I wouldn’t do it if I was playing with this guitar. Instead, I’d do some basic and syncopated vamps with some walks thrown in.

Thanks @BanjoBen I thought that might be the case. I’ll give your suggestion a try and see how I get on…

So many of the songs I want to learn have barr chords, which I have given up on. So I guess I have to accept that and just be satisfied with the progress I have already made. Which keeps me from upgrading membership because I know I can’t do the barr chords.

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Welcome Annie! Is your guitar set up correctly? I’ve played guitars that I had no hope playing anything on cuz the strings were so high, and I’ve played other guitars that were so easy to play I could hold bar chords for hours, cuz the strings were nice and low. I’d encourage you to make sure your strings are nice and low and then go and practice and try to strengthen your hands and learn those bar chords. I used to be super intimidated by them, and then I started playing them, and they sounded awful for a while until my hands got stronger and then they got a bit better and better with practice

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This will keep you from ever doing them.

Better to say “not yet”…things take time…barre chords are not easy and it might take a couple years (or so) to build the dexterity & strength to pull them off.

I’ve been doing things that were “impossible” for me in the beginning for forty years now on several different instruments as well in other things in life.

Was it frustrating? you bet
did I think I might never get it? many times
did I give up? no

I’ve worked on breaks to songs that took me over two years to get right. .

Some things take a long time to get…but “can’t” & “Never” need to leave your vocabulary

Sorry if this sounds a bit harsh…it isn’t meant that way…but a positive frame of mind and a “can do (eventually)” attitude are really necessary to get over the difficult humps we run into in life as well as in music.

I believe you can do them eventually!

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Yeah, I play bar chords sometimes, but I prefer to play them on electric guitars due to ease of pushing the strings and better sound. I am working on it though.

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Wow, I’m super impressed with the quick response! I don’t know of anyone to look at my guitar but I suppose it is worth looking into before I say I give up on bar chords. Thanks for the encouragement.

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Stick with this group Annie, they’ll see you through and won’t give up on you if you don’t :slight_smile:

You can also upload a video of yourself playing, for example, trying barr chords, and the folks here, including @BanjoBen himself, will offer suggestions. This is a very safe and encouraging community; give it a try.

Also, FYI if you want to get someone’s attention in a particular post, just use the @ followed by their username. I’m glad you’re here.

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Hey Annie! Welcome to the forum. I’ll second Gunnar’s advice on having someone check your guitar setup. If you can’t do that, see if you can find someone with a properly set up guitar or even an electric guitar to see if you can play barre chords on those.

An additional benefit from checking in to this is that if your guitar isn’t set up properly and you find that out, you can get it fixed, which will speed up your overall learning process.

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Hello Annie, welcome!

I think @Dragonslayer diagnosed your issue correctly. I too used to have hard time playing until I reduced the action to the recommended setting. I gather that the average action (distance between the string and the fret) at the 12th fret should be 3/32 inches on the bass side and 1/16 inches on the treble side. Here is an article that explains it. https://acousticguitar.com/checking-and-adjusting-saddle-height/ Here is also another article on what order you should adjust it…https://www.guitarrepairbench.com/acoustic-guitar-repairs/lower-saddle-action/ I just checked my guitar and it is at about the preferred setting. However my saddle height is more than the recommendation by the acoustic pickup that is beneath it. I’d probably have to buy a new saddle and reduce its height by the pickup thickness.

So you may want to, (here I’m assuming nut action is not too high)

  1. Gently adjust the truss rod to lower the action as necessary.
  2. Measure the action at the 12th fret on the 6th string (recommended 3/32 inches) and 1st string (recommended 1/16th inches) to see if it is to the recommendation.
  3. If 12th fret action is still not to the recommended level, then adjust and set the the saddle height (height between bridge and the top of saddle) to two times the above recommended values to get the desired action at the 12th fret. (I’d probably buy a new “compensated” saddle and file it if lowering is required, instead of messing with the factory one.)
  4. Then make sure all notes are playable.

Experts like @Mark_Rocka can correct me if I am wrong. :slight_smile:

Another thing could be to do with your string material/texture. I purchased Elixir medium phosphor bronze strings from Ben’s store per his advice. I find them much smoother to play.

And you should see marked improvement with your barre chord playing.

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Excellent point! Temporarily switching to the lightest gauge you can find would be a good test. You might lose some tone, but it’s worth it for the test.

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