Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Stuck in the backup mud

I’m stuck in a rut with my backup and not sure how to get out. I want to play hymns for a church but what kind of backup do I need? I have watched all of the backup lessons and not sure how to work backup and the solo into a traditional hymn. And what about regular songs? What backup will be an all around good pattern, I know most of the left hand positions up the neck but don’t what do from there, how should I practice backup? This is my mountain to climb and I’m plain stuck. Need help getting my head wrapped around this quandary. Thanks.

1 Like

When I play banjo in church, playing the hymns, I will use what Earl called “vamping” as my go-to backup. I will mix that up with just switching roll-patterns over the chords, not necessary playing the melody.


How do you suggest practicing backup? How did you find people to play with?

1 Like

Are you playing the hymns along with the congregational singing or as a special?

I would play along with recordings, or just think of a song in your head and play backup to it.

For standard bluegrass songs, I use a backup pattern similar to the Utility Rolls, and sometimes just a simple driving forward roll is fine. Check out some of the backup in this video:


Great suggestions thank you, and as for playing at church purely speculation at this point, I dont have anybody to play with, and I don’t think that they even like hymns, so I might be sunk before I start, I just wanted to be prepared in case of a long shot. But it would be with the congregation and a worship team singing.