Learn Your Banjo Chords

To learn your banjo chords, you be must ready for a bit of study and practice. Folk, rock, blues and jazz songs are typically built around chords, which are three-note harmonic combinations. These three-note combinations are taken from the root note, a third and a fifth from a single scale. Many songs are built from simple three-chord combinations, and learning a few basic banjo chords can open up many possibilities.

Understanding Top And Bottom Strings
A banjo is naturally in an open G tuning, which is an order of GDGBD, from the bottom string to the top. Somewhat counter-intuitively, the string nearest to the top of the banjo is actually the bottom string. The top string is the D, closest to the bottom of the banjo, and is also referred to as the first string, with the G near the top of the banjo referred to as the fifth string. Therefore, from top to bottom, a banjo's tuning is DBGDG. This is a source of confusion for many beginners, but it must be understood before actual playing of chords can begin.

C Major
Often students of any instrument begin by learning C Major, which is typically just referred to as C. C is a critical reference point in music. On a piano, for example, you may hear about players staring a scale or piece on middle C. The C Major chord is built from the notes C, E and G. To play this series of notes, place your index finger on the first fret, third string. Holding your index finger in place, place your middle finger on the second fret of the bottom string. Finally, place your ring finger on the second fret, second string. Simply strum, and you will hear C Major in all its glory.

G Major
G Major, or G, is much easier to play C Major. It is equally important, and played just as often. What fingers are placed on the frets to play G? None. Because banjos are tuned to open G, you can play the G chord simply by strumming with your right hand. Mastering rhythms and styles of playing this open chord is a lifetime task. However, to simply play it, just strum away. Try alternating between C and G.

A Major
Another exhaustively used chord is A Major, or A. To play this chord, place your index finger on the second fret, bottom string. Next, place your middle finger on the second fret, fourth string. The ring finger must next be placed on the second fret, third string. Finally, place the pinkie finger on the second fret, second string. Then strum away. With practice, it may eventually be easier to play this chord using one finger. Because the four-finger arrangement can be awkward, flattening the index finger over all four notes can be more comfortable. However, this is a relatively advanced technique.

The Importance Of Chords
The banjo basics of C, G and A have been used in countless folk and popular songs. By gaining the ability to alternate among these three chords and employ different rhythms, you will be well on your way to playing songs proficiently. However, the chord-learning process can go on for many years, as three-note chord combinations are varied and numerous. With practice, your knowledge and command of banjo chords will develop.

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