Just cant get the cords!


Hi guys and gals
My names Paul I’m 44 and i live in Norfolk U.K i have just got my first banjo after drooling over one for years just love the sound of them. I picked mine up Tuesday 13th nov so after 2 days I’m getting the hand of picking but when it comes to the cords !!! I’m losing the will to live :imp: :imp: :imp:

Yes i know its only 2 days but i want to make the banjo sound different instead of doing everything in “G”

love this site and i joined as a life member today :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Has any got any tips as to how to hold my hand?
do i fret on the bars or just behind?
I’ve watched the basic videos and cant seem to get my head round it

Thanks all for your help
and once again fantastic site



I am not a banjo player, but I think I can answer one question. Place your finger right behind the fret. It takes time to get the muscle memory for getting chords sounding clean and making the transitions effortless. Try to use your fingertips… arch those joints so the finger tips are coming down straight into the fretboard. Hang in there. I am sure you will get some better banjo specific advice soon. There are some good banjo pickers on here.


Cheers thanks for the reply
sat here having a beer flexing my fingers :smiley:



Relax! It takes time (lots of it) on the instrument, to get comfortable and clean.

Like Mike said, you need to have enough time into it to build up muscle memory. I’ve been playing different instruments since around '70 and it still takes me days, weeks, or sometimes even months to play some things I’m learning comfortably.

slow down and be more patient with yourself…your just starting, it will come! Learn to laugh at mistakes and try again…have fun, be patient, and enjoy!



thanks for the answer , Im loving every second I’ve waited so long i can wait a bit longer
as im doing the picking my fingers get in knots :blush:

just really wanted to hear the banjo make another sound :confused:

Success ive had 1 beer relaxed picked the banjo up and hey ho nearly had it im on a rollllllllll more beer please :laughing:




You will find some days are better than others.

I jammed with some friends last Sat at a campfire. It’s only the third time I’ve gone out and played banjo live with others. My practice really showed and I was picking stuff much cleaner and faster than i normally can. These guys & gals know me well and were all quite amazed at my progress on the 5-string. Only drawback was it was pretty dark and I couldn’t see the neck most of the time so I had to find light and look hard to hit anything up the neck. :smiley:

So, I’m pumped most of the week and pickin’ pretty good…spent the whole week so far learning Sledd Ridin’…coming along really well and all of a sudden today I can’t play a thing without missing notes every measure (even on the licks I’ve had down for months) no matter how much I slow it down. :unamused:

My coordination seems to go in cycles. The banjo is no friend on the uncoordinated days! :laughing:

Can’t hardly wait for this for this little uncoordinated phase to pass :laughing:


hey paul,true story,i had just got my banjo,so i wanted to do the same as you and learn banjo cords.i’d been playing guitar for a while with limited success but at least i knew a far amount of cords.so i went to a local music store and picked up a nice picture book of cords the kind that showed the guys hand doing the fretting.plopped down my 10 bucks and went home to learn banjo cords.now i already spent some time tuning my banjo to ‘g’ when i opened up the book and every thing they were showing [except1 page] was in ‘c’ tuning.that one page was what they refered to as bluegrss tuning and just showed a chord chart. i flipped to the front of the book to see it was first printed in 1973 long before ‘g’ was standard :blush: so i payed $10. for one page of material*.anyway,just keep practicing and remember to look at the copyright date! :laughing:*


Howdy Paul,
You may temporarily achieve some gratification by settling for bar chords ( barring the 5th fret will give you a C, and barring the 7th fret will give you a D to go with your open G), but eventually ya gotta just bite the bullet and learn the other forms for the chords. Of course you know that too many of those beers will actually slow you down and make you want to sleep instead of pick. -Best.


hey,paul,on the banjo alot of the time instead of playing the whole cord, what you’re doing is playing licks.if you’re having trouble making the complete cord you can kind of “cheat it” by playing around within that particular cord shape. take for instance a"d" cord,you can play a"d"lick without fretting the whole cord. so if you learn a few licks you can get around playing troublesome cords.hope this helps.