Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Help me play in C please

Hi, I know the short answer to when I’m at a jam and the key is C is to just capo up 5 frets. However, that sounds so high to me, especially on some songs (take rabbit in a log for example). I’m not saying it won’t work, it’s just that I’d like to be able to do it without capoing up that high. I can do some basic vamp backup with C (although I’m still working on that) without a capo, but I’m at a loss to play a solo that I’ve learned in G without a capo. Any hints?


I struggle with the same thing. Playing a solo in C or D and hitting enough melody notes that the tune is recognizable is pretty much a no-go for me at this point.

There’s a few steps to what you’re asking.

If you don’t know your C chord shape and it’s positions over the first 5 frets, that a place to start.

You also need to know:
1 -2- 3-4-5- 6-7- 1

Then you’ll need to know the chord progression of the song - basically its a map of where to go.

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Hey Keith,
At a foundational level, one thing that really helps is to know your fretboard positions for C. The Waypoints in C lesson is an eye-opener for that- highly recommend that one!
The mindset for playing melodies in C is similar to that of G, but the main difference is that you won’t know as many licks or be as familiar with the positions at first. I often think about the key melody notes and play rolls in positions where I can highlight those notes. Learning arrangements in C also helps familiarize you with what licks/positions are commonly used for different melody notes.
The Red River Valley lesson shows how Ben thinks about playing a melody in 3 different keys (C, D, and G) - I think that might be a great arrangement to check out.


@ambergkeith It’s like you were reading my mind.

I have this lesson for this week:

And you need to watch this too:

Then you need to watch the lessons @Michael_Mark mentioned, then click on the “key of C” tag on the left margin and see all the lessons I have in C.


I know what my next lessons will be.


Thanks Ben. I started doing the waypoints lessons before I saw your reply so I’m doing them out of order, but I’ll eventually get to them. The waypoints lessons are really good.