Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Tony Rice: 67 Today

Happy 67th birthday to you Tony Rice. In case you are a lurker here at the forum, thank you for the music. I’ll never play like you, but you inspire me to keep on trying.

This is about the smoothest thing I have ever seen:

To try to insert a little learnin’ into this post, what crosspicking pattern(s) is he using? I try to stay faithful to alternate D-U-D-U. It is what Ben recommends and that’s good enough for me. But I think I see some D-D-U and some U-U-D in the video. I’ve tried those patterns in the past to marginal success. It feels like I lose separation between the notes and the pattern just turns into a sloppy strum.


Tony is allowed to break the rules of D-U-D-U :slight_smile: Here is the tab from the first solo of this video, and the pickstrokes are exactly like he plays them. Yes, it’s hard. I have those C notes at the start as a sort of count off. Enjoy!

Gtr-ChurchStreetVideo.pdf (53.0 KB)


Thanks for the tab Ben. I don’t know what is more impressive; the video or that you were able to tab out the solo with correct pickstrokes.

I am going to assume that this was something you already had in your holster. Because if you tabbed that out in the 30 minutes between my original post and your response it would make me doubt everything I think I know about the world.

U-D-D-U starting on the one-beat… that’s crazy stuff. Someone could really get hurt if they didn’t know what they were doing.


What’s the rule for “breaking the rule”? Is he doing it primarily in the interest of picking efficiency and speed?

Measure 4 starts with an upstroke on the C after coming off a downstroke pull-off to the open D at the end of measure 3. It seems like he skips the imaginary upstroke on the D and saves it for the C. Many of the deviations from the expected alternating pattern come after a pull-off or a hammer-on where the next note lies on a higher string. Or more generally, it seems like a sweeping pattern that changes direction once it reaches the highest string. Interesting.

I’ve been working on this tab for more than a year and find that it requires a lot of discipline to play well (at a fraction of Tony’s speed). I broke rules, too, by going with alternating down-up instead of the UDDU, etc. I’m going to make a concerted effort to do it exactly as Ben tabbed to figure out what the benefit is and see if I can pick up speed. Funny thing is that for as much time as I’ve put into this, I still don’t have it memorized which must be necessary to play cleanly at tempo.

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He has his own rules. He sweep picks each way. So if he’s covering several strings in either direction he will often sweep them rather than alternate. I used to work on it all the time and it was so hard to get smooth and even.

For what it’s worth, I saw Sierra Hull post a vid playing this as a birthday tribute. She played it practically the same as Tony but used “correct” alternating pickstrokes. That made me feel a bit better!


I the same as you!

WOW! I never knew he was that great, playing and singing. Randy Travis sings like him. I wonder if that’s where he got his style, given that Tony is about 10 years older.