Wildwood Flower - Helps


Ben teaches Wildwood Flower in the key of C, but out of the C-chord position rather than the use of the capo.

banjobenclark.com/videos/265 … the-pinky/

If I wanted to play this in the key of G, how would I go about doing that?


Hey BB,
If I understand correctly, you want to play WWF in G, but you don’t necessarily want to capo. Playing it (in G) in the same fingering as in C would require a capo at 7, so that isn’t a particularly good option anyway. The most direct method is just a brute force transpose. For example, the melody starts with the notes E F. Transposing to the key of G that would be B C.

Did I understand the question correctly?


So mreisz has this right.

If you don’t want to use a capo, then you would have to, in effect, rewrite the break. So it would be best to learn the chord changes and work out a new break from that.

For instance, you could start with an open G chord. Play 2nd open (B), 2nd first fret ©, 1st open (D), then quarter note 5th open and 1st open, 1st second fret (E), 1st fifth fret (G), 1st open (D), quarter note open 5th and open 1st etc.

The chord changes would be G G D G for the verse and G G7 C G | G G D G for the chorus.


Yes, yall understood correctly, but didn’t give me the answer I was hoping for. I’m struggling really bad at writing my own breaks. It just doesn’t come to me…at all. So I was hoping there was an easier way to change keys on this one without having to rewrite the break.

There’s only 1 way to learn it though, right?


Well you could take Ben’s tab and transpose the verse up 7 frets and the chorus down 5 frets (you would transpose the chorus down to keep it in the lower part of the neck. You could transpose up to make an ‘up the neck’ break).

I would suggest writing out a (rough) tab when you do this. It will be time consuming but not so difficult and will surely take less time than the time necessary to be comfortable enough with playing chords and picking to ‘pick the melody around the chords’. It’s taken me almost three years to be able to start making up my own (admittedly feeble) breaks.


Yeah, I know, it sucks to start learning to write your own breaks but doing is in the end the only way to learn.

The advice in the Parking Lot Pickers Songbook (Bill Evans, MelBay) - which has only a version in C as well - is to find the melody notes (in this case you take the notes of the singing lines) of a song and simply write your roll patterns around those melody notes. Maybe that’s a helpful start?

As the tune has the chord pattern { I I V I / I I V I / I I IV I / I I V I }, the chords for this song in G are in fact mostly G:
so you can use for 75% open-string (forward/backward/‘insert-roll-you-like’) roll patterns that include the melody notes.
Actually, Ben uses this approach (without mentioning it I think) in the lessons for roll patterns on Boil the Cabbage Down and Worried Man Blues. Especially the last tune makes it very clear for me, he uses the forward-reverse pattern for the chord and includes the melody notes and that makes that you hear the song clearly.

I fully understand your reluctance to start with such a huge task and I can only give the tip I got when starting to transcribe from video/audio for the first time: go for it but measure by measure…
However, to be honest, it works often best per 4 measures as you will end up with a whole ‘sentence’ in that way and you can easily keep a flow in your roll patterns over a 4 measure section.

And on the upside: The first two vocal sentences are melodically identical, so if you are able to write something for the first 4 measures, you can use that bit for the 2nd set of 4 measures as well. Meaning that after only 4 measures you will have half your song already!!! :wink:
I´d say, just start and post that first bit, as I think the BB community is very supportive to advice and cheer on your efforts!

After that it is only 8 more measures to finish your break …


New question:

I was trying to play this tune with a guitar buddy of mine today, but something just wasn’t sounding right. So I downloaded the banjo tab and the guitar tab from Ben so that I could compare them.

I noticed that
1.) the guitar tab has 22 measures while the banjo only has 20.
2.) the banjo tab changes to a C chord at measure 10 while the guitar stays with G

What do yall make of this?


it appears to me that Ben:

  1. Added 2 extra measures in the guitar tab that you can see as an ending, so measures 20 - 22 can be played as an ending but presuming you want to move on to the banjo break after the guitar solo, the guitar can start strumming from measure 19 and the banjo picks up on it´s intro in that measure
  2. Just missed to add C above the 10th measure of the guitar tab, it is something you have to include manually separately when writing tab so a chord change is easy to miss. Just go to C there. The chord progression of the banjo version is the correct one. I checked and also the advanced guitar tab of the song has the C chord on the tenth measure.