How to use an electronic tuner to tune your banjo.
Did you know that it is actually very easy to transpose the chords of a song? Suppose that your music is written in the key of E, but your praise band says that they need to sing it in the key of D, an octave lower. It is actually very easy to change the key. Here is a short video showing you the basics of the musical scale. This is how I know where on the neck of the guitar or banjo to find the chord that I want to play.
How do you play banjo chords up on the neck of the banjo? The video below shows you some of the positions that are used on the neck. On guitar and banjo, when you play a chord up the neck it is called a bar chord or barre chord. The video above explains how you can figure out where to put the barre chord, and the video below shows some of the barre chord finger positions that are used on the banjo.
When I attend jam sessions, there is a technique that I use to play any song in any key. It is based upon the chord positions demonstrated in the video below. Practice these positions in the key of G. Memorize the relative postions on the neck for each of the chords used when you are playing in G. Then all you have to do to play in a different key is to figure out where on the neck to begin. For the key of A, you would start 2 frets higher than for G. The 2 videos above explain more about how to find the starting position for a key. Use the D-shaped barre chord starting at the D-chord and count your way up the neck until you find the key that is being used for the song that your group is jamming at the moment.
The video below is a continuation of the one above and teaches you about some of the barre chord shapes used for minor chords on the banjo.
Another very common barre chord shape that I think I forgot to mention in the above video is the F7-shape. If you play guitar, just put your fingers on the banjo as if you were playing an F on the guitar. This will give you an F7 chord on the banjo. If you don't play guitar, begin with the F-chord on the banjo, then instead of using your pinky on the first string 3rd fret, use your index finger to press the first string at the first fret, so your index finger will be on both the first and second strings.
Here is a video showing how to play "Little Rock Getaway". For this video I have added tags that show you what chord shape is being used and what chord it is producing at that position on the neck of the banjo. You will have to keep pausing the video to read and understand the tags.
The tags in the video use the following format: "S:D = G". This means that I am using the D-shaped barre chord in order to play a G-chord at that position on the neck of the banjo. This video is also on my banjo video page. There you will also find a link to watch Bill Knopf play his awesome arrangement of the song.