Banjo Help with the Forward Roll

Banjo Help with the Forward Roll

Banjo Lesson Instructor

Student Questions / Answers from Ross Nickerson

Banjo Help with the Forward Roll

Student question

I have a question about the fingering of the forward roll as tabbed on pg 16 of "Beginning The 5-String Banjo" book. (The roll referred to is an eight note one measure forward roll starting on the 3rd string, TMTIMTIM)

Is it one of the hard fast rules that the roll start with the thumb on the 3rd string? I've found myself automatically using my index finger, mainly on the repeats of the roll.

Is it one of those habits I should really be enforcing on my fingers and ensure it starts on the thumb?

My answer

To answer your question, you should practice it with the thumb, and good reason in your case may be the simple reason that it's harder for you, you will need to do it with both, so work on your weakness. The way I suggest it is to use the thumb when its available, the index needs to be used when you are coming off a eighth note just played by the thumb and the thumb is not available. Some players will use the index more than I may but Earl used the thumb like this, it adds punch, control and tone. Also I think it's best to play the melody note with the thumb when you can and this roll is used often when the first note of the roll is a melody note, but again, it's not the only way, just the way I recommend.


Thanks again,


Ross Nickerson

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