How to play in the Key of D on banjo

How to play in the Key of D on banjo

Difficulty with playing the D Chord on banjo


I can play most chord forms pretty well at this point, but have never comfortably mastered the full D chord—in fact, I’m not very content with how I play it at all. This is certainly an important chord shape that is essential to basic bluegrass music, especially up-the-neck playing. Here’s my question—what can I do to improve my ability to accurately transition to this chord form (I know, practice, practice, practice)? Do you have something specific that you can recommend?

Answer from Ross Nickerson

Thanks for your email, this is a common problem.

Here are some suggestions.
Practice it up the neck where the frets are closer together
Place your fingers in the D shape and then pick each finger up and back down one at a time.
Make the D shape at the 7th fret and switch between the F and D shapes staying in that one spot.
Do the left hand exercises in chapter 3 of the Banjo Encyclopedia.
Take your picks off and focus on the left hand. Stop picking until the left hand ability starts to catch up.
A little harder advice (sometimes that approach helps) would be to just get it done, even kids can play the guitar and the banjo is really easy to fret compared to a guitar. Stop picking and get a little more aggressive with your left hand practice.

Thanks again, best of luck with your fun and progress.

Ross Nickerson
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