Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Syncopated roll problem

Hey all,

I found banjo ben after hacking around by my lonesome for a couple of years. During my pre-Ben days I picked up a nasty habit of Galloping or syncopating my rolls when I try to play fast. Any body have a solution? I didn’t realize how much it changes the tune until I here Ben play Cumberland Gap and I compare it to the way I sound.

Thanks in advance


I would suggest slowing down and gradually raising the speed of the roll without syncopation (ideally, with a metronome). You want to be able to roll with or without syncopation at will, so definitely don’t completely eradicate syncopation every single time you practice.
Also, be sure to listen to songs with the banjo rolling “straight” as much as you can– the really hard driving, faster stuff is usually where this happens the most (as opposed to a more swingy-folky sound). Some players, even while playing fast, will subconsciously swing/syncopate the rolls. At least, I assume it’s subconsciously! You can hear this sometimes when you slow a really fast song down.
Also, check out the Shuffle Rhythm lesson:


I agree with @Michael_Mark I would encourage you to work through @BanjoBen 's Beginners Lesson Track on Rolls. Ben sets out teaching these rolls STRAIGHT get the timing and the rolls clean before tackling syncopation. In his lesson Ben raises the issue of Galloping. This is usually a problem when you start to speed up.


Kind of the different, but really the same would be take something slow that you both know well and also swing a ton (Amazing Grace?) and force yourself to play it straight. Get to where you can go either way and you are well on your way.

But a better opinion than mine is Ben’s. I saw a lesson the other day where Ben addresses that exact issue. He said not differentiating well between 1/8th and 1/16th note embellishments is often the root cause. Here it is:


Tons of great advice above. One other trick I’ve used, is to mute all strings and then practice your roll only as fast as you can keep an even thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump going. Believe I heard this trick from Earl Scruggs actually in something he wrote. Warning:. Make sure you do this when no one else is around. :open_mouth: