Banjo Chords

If you’re gonna play bluegrass music, your banjo will be tuned in G Tuning. The strings in G Tuning are

1  2  3  4  5

D  B  G  D  G


The vast majority of all bluegrass songs use only three chords, G, C and D or D7. Some, in fact, only use two chords, G and D or D7.

When you’re in G tuning, your banjo is tuned to a G chord.

So in G tuning your G chord is just to pick or strum the banjo stings “Open,” or unfretted. What could be easier?

A D7 chord requires you to use only two fingers, your index and middle fingers.

The third chord you’ll need is a C, which uses either two or three fingers.

Most of the time, you can play a two finger C chord. Looking at the diagram above, simply lift off your middle finger from the 4th string. If you need to play the 4th string while on a C chord, put your middle finger back where it goes, on the second fret. Otherwise, you can just play your C chord on all the strings except the 4th string.

Important Tip: When you’re making chords like the D7 or C, it’s vital that your fingers land on the strings all-at-the-same time, rather than piecemeal. To perfect this, go to the D7 or C chord. Then lift your fingers off the chord about a quarter of an inch, and then make them land in their correct position all at once. Practicing this now means you’ll be able to get to your chords quickly in the future.

With the G, C and D7 chords you can play about a BILLION bluegrass songs. Have fun.

For much more help with learning to play the banjo, I highly recommend one of my best-selling banjo books. Bluegrass Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus! has taught thousands of people just like you to play the banjo in bluegrass style. My book Clawhammer Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus! has done the same for people who want to learn clawhammer style banjo. Don’t know the difference? Then read my article on “What is Clawhammer Banjo?” My banjo books are written in a friendly and easy style expressly for total beginners.

Each book comes as a set with a CD with 90 tracks where I play each melody very slowly and clearly on the banjo. I’m so sure that you’ll  like the book that I’ll offer you this guarantee. If you purchase the book and CD set and don’t like it or don’t get anything of value out of it, return it, and I’ll send you a check. I only ask that you USE the book first. Fair enough?

Yours truly,

Wayne Erbsen



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