There are indeed many songs that have made their mark in the hearts of those who love the banjo, but there are some songs that are easier to learn, particularly if you’re a beginner. There’s no doubt that banjo songs are a pleasure to listen to, and what could be better than learning to play some songs yourself? But what are the easiest songs to learn to enhance your banjo skills in no time? Here’s your best list.
- Dueling Banjos
The beauty of this song is that once you master it, you can be called a true banjo player. Of course, in a standard banjo ‘duel,’ you have to play against someone playing the guitar. But while the guitar has no problem keeping up with the banjo, the point is to showcase the banjo’s sound and make it stand out. What would make it even more impressive is if two banjos could be pitted against each other, creating an even more harmonious and beautiful melody.
The song was created in 1954 by Arthur Smith, and it fast became a classic in the bluegrass movement. When Mr. Smith created it, he made use of a four-string banjo for his best riffs. But to get the dueling banjo effect, he asked Don Reno, another well-known banjo player, to play the riffs using a five-string banjo. Soon after, other players came up with their versions, and one of the most popular versions is the one from Eric Weissberg, which he recorded in the early 1970s. Needless to say, it went up to number 2 on the Hot 100.
You can gradually build it up section by section since most sections involve strumming, making it pretty easy. Once you get the hang of this, you can do some fingerpicking. It’s a great piece to exercise and strengthen your fingers, and since it uses most of the banjo notes, it’s worth learning for sure.
- Man of Constant Sorrow
The Man of Constant Sorrow always makes it to the list of easy banjo songs, and it’s obvious why. It isn’t just a big hit because it was featured in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (starring George Clooney), garnering a 2002 Grammy. It was also a hit all the way back to pre-World War I days, and when it was officially recorded in the mid-1920s, it inspired many artists and led to a Bob Dylan cover in the 1960s.
Even though the tune sounds complex because it uses five strings, you can still handle it if you try not to take on the progressions in the chord right away. You should instead focus on getting the right tones for the strings at the beginning. When you’ve practiced and have gotten used to each string’s sound, playing it becomes easier.
- Amazing Grace
This song doesn’t need any introduction, and most people will recognize it as soon as they hear it. The song’s first official recording was acapella, with no instruments whatsoever, but musicians can play it with virtually any musical instrument and in different styles. You can, for example, go with the gospel style, or you can opt for something more upbeat and vibrant. Remember, however, that it involves the clawhammer technique, and you also have to contend with slides and switches for finger frets.