Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Favorite Lick or Run?

What’s your favorite lick or run that is really cool? Could be a lick or could be part of a song but you should share with others.

Mine is that little run Rice uses in “Blue Railroad Train” that starts in the video at exactly 00:59 seconds and leads into him singing.

Of course I really like the lead breaks for this song.

I worked on this entire intro awhile to get it acceptable, still can’t get it up to the speed as Tony but am pretty close. If anyone is interested I think I have this as a tef file somewhere and can share.

Below is the Youtube video to reference the part I am talking about…again it starts at 00.59 seconds. This is a nice little lick/run for that G to D transition. He also plays it again at right around the 3:20 or 3:21 mark.

Please share yours with the rest of us…you know that one part of a song where you say “Man that is the bomb” or a “lick”.

That’s the intro/break I thought of when I saw this thread. It is sweet. I probably found the same tef file for it you did. Also learned some different fingerings from a slow lesson on youtube. Does your version have the whole intro/break or just that lick Oldhat?

I have the entire intro/break on TEf file. Can’t remember exactly where I found it, was one of the bluegrass sites on the net somewhere and it is pretty darn close to what Tony does. Let me dig through my files and find it and I’ll see about adding it here, or I will find a direct link to where I found it at if I can find it.

Funny thing about this lick/run is that I like the emphasis on the timing of it…I mean mentally you are cruising along the melody and then that lick pops up…was kind of difficult for me to get it correctly and to get into that lick, kind of reminds me of Clarence White and some of the ideas that he used in playing and his sense of timing…and we all know Tony followed Clarence.

Also to pull this lick off, you have to have real good coordination in moving along the fretboard to keep it in time…you are not pausing in a “box” with your movement…so for me to master this I had to keep my entire arm moving while playing to get the right…is a weird little lick, and really fun to get in time.


The tef file for the break/intro to Blue Railroad Train can be found here, it is the first one on the list:

I hadn’t seen that webpage before. It’s got some good stuff on there. Thanks, oldhat.

That one is a whole lot better than the one I found. Thanks for posting it. I know what ya mean about the timing, I can play the same thing over and over and it never sounds quite right until you get that timing right and then it just clicks.

Man are you guys telling me that you have absolutely nothing to add to this? Come on it’s a “favorite lick” thread where we share!


Well, this one isn’t the best but it’s been on my mind for the last couple days so I’ll put it up.

Trying to work in this fast little G-C-G lick that sounds cool. Trying to add it to Ben’s “Somehow Tonight” where Ben is playing the G-lick in the middle of the rhythm, I’m trying to fit this in. Don’t know if that’s wrong or not, but it sounds good. :laughing:

The lick is at 3:12 in the video, fast G-C-G. Might want to start at 3:00 to get a feel for the rhythm he’s playing. Again, not that great, sorry if I wasted your time. :laughing:

Nope, not wasting anyone’s time.

I listened to it twice at 3:12 sounds like he is just playing right up the C major scale…grab your C chord and go right up the C scale in that position to the octave and that may be the lick.


— Begin quote from "Oldhat"

Man are you guys telling me that you have absolutely nothing to add to this? Come on it’s a “favorite lick” thread where we share!

— End quote

Well, I gotta admit that most any favorite Bluegrass lick I have, I got from Ben. So for my favorite lick, just peruse the tabs on this site :slight_smile:
Back in my younger days (way back in early 2012), I would beat the crap out of hammering on or pulling off triplets that were easy to play, but sounded fancy. An example that comes to mind is this little pulloff riff fragment to go to D. This was used by Randy Rhodes in “Dee” and I’m sure many other places (“p” means pulloff):

or the more simple version to get to G (as done in Skid Row’s “I remember you” and elsewhere), I think Rhodes would also do this and land on an open A instead of G to use this to get to A… at least we played that in “crazy train”

I have kind of migrated my affinity for open string triplets into grass a bit. One example is after a G LICK!, if I want it to go a bit longer I’ll embellish it with a variation involving triplets (8th note triplets in bold, and note that the first note on the open G is a quarter note, so the whole phrase is 2 measures and ends on “1” of the third measure)

It’s nothing life changing, but it’s another thing to throw in there if you feel the need.

For me it would have to be this ending lick in the key of G

Canyonhiker, that sounds very Ben-like. Is it one of his licks or are you channeling your inner-Ben? Nice lick either way.

Here’s a lick in C that I stole somewhere (Youtube, I think).


That’s a lick that I’ve been trying to work in as an ending to Temperance Reel, though I’m guessing it could probably be used in several other tunes as well. It was part of a tab that I have for the above tune. I didn’t get it from Ben, but I agree, it does sound like something he would use!

CanyonHiker, nice ending!

Larry, that’s groovy. It has a cool progression. What’s the chord progression behind it?
I’ll take a stab at: Dm, B7, Em, A2, Dm, G, C (at the end I’d do a Cadd9, also called a Csus2. since it’s pretty lick, it deserves a pretty chord)

I felt bad that you all had pretty tabs and I had the hand drawn stuff, so here’s a tab of what I posted earlier. I didn’t add pulloffs or hammer ons as I haven’t done much with Tabledit and I didn’t want to spend 'til tomorrow figuring it out. I hope it works ok. I had to zip it to get it to upload.

It plays fine for me, Mike, and it helps to hear the triplet. Nice little G lick variation.

I don’t believe I’ve ever used the lick that I posted. I found it on Youtube and liked the the way it flows. It’s just fun to play. I figure I’ll find a use for it eventually. I stuck your chord progression behind the lick in my tef file. It sounds pretty good. How did you come up with that? I would have had a tough time figuring it out.

[attachment=0]Riff in C tef[/attachment]

I know what you mean about Tabledit. It isn’t nearly so intuitive as Guitar Pro, or even some of the free tab editors. Seems like it relys on a lot of shortcut keys rather than a graphical interface. It would probably be the easiest to use if I spent some time with it, but I’m always forgetting which keys do what.

Thanks Mike,

Hey I was a “sweat rocker” myself…can I get a “hell yeah”! I am presuming that you, me, Larry, Ben, TnT Taylor, and a few others are pretty much in the same age group - mid 30’s - Late 40’s…well to me there is no way you played guitar and didn’t dabble in either in Hard Rock or Sweat Rock.

Well then since Ben is the resource for most of our favorite licks then let’s talk about an older Classsic Rock Song or “Outlaw” Country song then that you may feel fun to play and can get by with it in a “folk” or bluegrass setting? I know of a few that I do in a "bluegrass-ish setting"that the crowd seems to identify with and will provide the song and the place where I go the lead from:

First “Amie” from Pure Prairie Leaque: Is a nice intro and then a nice lead break around 2:00 minutes.

I found this guys 2 part lesson on the song and he’s “all over” the lead break and gives a great explanation of it. His lesson is in 2 parts and this is the intro and he has another video of the break.

“Amie” is fun to to play as when I would play out with the guys from Ohio we typically played to a crowd that was a mix of “older and middle aged folks”, well the older folks would know most of the bluegrass numbers we done but not the younger folks, so I wold typically throw in songs like this in order to play something they were familiar in order to entertain them and it was enjoyable for the entire crowd.


Late addition/note:

If you attempt to play the lead break with someone else in this song, have them simply hum in their head a verse and follow that progression as this break follow no melody line and a lot of backup players get lost in the chord progression, so when you take the break let them know that your break will be over the “verse progression” and have them hum/sing it in the head while yo take the break…trust me if they don’t they will get lost.

Thanks for checking that the tif worked. Yours did as well, very nice. What got me wondering about the chord progression was how the melody signaled the changes with half and whole tone steps… very tasteful to my ear. I came up with the chord progression I did just based on the notes being picked out. The clearest example was the Dm at the start of the 3rd measure. The notes are an Am shape at the 5th fret, so that would be Dm. Some of them jumped out… the B7 just sounded like a B7. I checked what notes I was playing and sure enough, B7 fit. The Em probably maybe should have been the easiest, but I tried to make it into several other chords before I got there, so there was a little trial an error thrown in for good measure. The G I just kind of assumed before thinking about the notes, as the 5 chord would be kind of “normal” before resolving to the ending C. Thanks for posting it. I said on the other post I need to start thinking about the notes I am playing and this got my brain working a bit.
I better get to bed… talk to ya later

— Begin quote from "Oldhat"

can I get a “hell yeah”!

— End quote

At a place where I love burgers in Arlington, I saw a signed poster for a band named “HellYeah!!!” I thought that was a GREAT band name. I don’t know about the band, but heck yeah, I’ll give you a “HellYeah!” You are right on my age and the stuff I used to play. I’m 43 and “Classic Rock” and Metal were what I usually played way back when. I like your idea for crossing genres. Unfortunately, I think I better get better grass chops before I start throwing too many loops in there… I might make someone mad at me. I’ll have to catch up with the links in the morning… it will come too quickly.
Thanks Oldhat, I’ll post back then.

— Begin quote from "mreisz"

I came up with the chord progression I did just based on the notes being picked out. The clearest example was the Dm at the start of the 3rd measure.

— End quote

I saw the Dm shape right away, too, but with the jump to the B7, I would have been in trial-and-error mode. It didn’t appear so obvious, just looking at the riff. Thanks for letting me know your thought process.