Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Measures 25-26 on John Henry

I am trying really hard to learn “John Henry”. I really like the song and the string progression. I started playing it on Song Surgeon at 50BPM, and have now moved up to 70BPM. I am trying to get to like 1 million BPMs(sounds like a million) or whatever the original speed is. So here is my issue, on the second chorus at measures 25-26 I am having a hard time transitioning to measure 26 from 25. My brain and my fingers are evidently having some type of disagreement on which ones to use when it comes to fretting the last measure. I have tried to do it slowly and also faster(just in case my brain hasn’t figured out what my fingers are doing yet). Can someone show me or give me a good transition step for the last measure. Thanks in advance, Y’all are awesome.

Are you referring to the basic or intermediate version?

Watch how ben does it in the video


basic version.

Any time my fingers get crossed, I’ve been able to watch how Ben does it in his video and it fixed the problem for me.


Hi @_Tye_Stick

It’s really a matter of training the brain. How I would approach this is to split each measure in two. It’s not a particularly difficult transition but clearly it’s causing you a lot of frustration.

  1. The fretting hand is fairly simple index finger on the third string second fret play an alternating thumb roll.
  2. Middle finger on forth string second then play open forth
  3. Index finger on the third string second fret and ring or pinking on the forth string forth fret - this is quite a common two finger D chord and you will find you use it a lot.
    All the right hand picking patterns are shown on the TAB.

Any time you find yourself straggling with a lick, break it down to half measures you will find that it becomes easier to memorize each section.

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@Mark_Rocka Trust me, I have looked at the lesson video a bunch of times. I have even replayed it over and over. For some particular reason that “D” chord is giving me fits. but I will work thru it.

@Archie IDK why that particular chord wants to frustrate me, I know I can do it a really slow speed, but as I get to the 70bpm level it’s pretty quick. I will give your method a shot and see if that makes it easier for me. I do appreciate everybody’s input. I’m sure one day ill just roll right through it like it was nothing.

Hi @_Tye_Stick Trust me it’s just a mental block, play it dead slow never THINK about speed, just let it happen naturally. Accuracy is what your after at this stage.


Can you take a quick vid of you playing those two measures? I think I can see it and offer a solution.

@BanjoBen let me see if I can get a video done for you to see. I have been trying to play that last couple of measures slow to figure out what works best. What I did discover is that measure 26 the last note played on the open “G” is the same as fretting the “D” string at the 5th fret, which is also a “G”. Im not sure if that makes much of a difference or not.

Hope this is the part you’re talking about.


@Mark_Rocka that’s pretty much it right there. I am trying to get used to using the index finger on those last couple of chords. But old habits are hard to break. thanks for the video. I am trying to make a video of me playing, but I am a photographer, not a video guy.

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As you can see, I’m neither. I just propped up my iphone in a mic stand and went to town. :stuck_out_tongue:

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@Mark_Rocka when I tried to use my camera, I could get it only focus on the CHAIR…:crying_cat_face: I want to have the song playing while I play, but that RK is really loud and I have wooden floors, so I end up with headphones on so I can hear the song and the timing better. Well, its just “One small step for man and one giant leap for mankind”(N.Armstrong). It will come to pass eventually, I just have to work on it. I’m pretty sure there are “higher walls” to climb in the future of playing.

Tye as I recall I had some issues with that two finger D Chord when I started. How I overcame this and some other chord positions was to make the chord on the fingerboard as I watched TV. It was a little uncomfortable to begin with but over time my fingers got used to the position and soon it became a natural go to position. Ben uses this fingering a lot so it’s worth the effort putting in the time and getting it right.


Haha…I hate to admit how much I play in front of the TV…

Aye laddie it forces ya tae use yur lugs and nae yur een.


@Archie is using spell check again…Bwahahahaha!



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