Today I got into splitting some firewood for my log cabin’s wood stove and ran into some especially gnarly oak butts that were still waiting to be split and stacked on the woodpile. Since one particular round was putting up a pretty good fight, I brought out my favorite steel wedge and my heaviest maul, an 8-pounder. As I was slamming the maul into the wedge, I got to thinking that the maul was pretty dang heavy. As I was pounding away, I started singing that old bluegrass song, “Nine Pound Hammer.” The first verse suddenly became very real:
“Nine pound hammer, Is a little too heavy, For my size, buddy for my size.”
I’ve sung and taught that song a hundred times, but it never really thought much about it until I was swinging an 8-pound hammer that was also a little too heavy. Then I remembered that I included “Nine Pound Hammer” in my book, Bluegrass Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus. Here is the tab of that song. In my book, I write out only the basic bare-bones melody, nothing fancy. On the facing page I show how to embellish that song using a variety of simple arpeggios, which in banjo language translates as “rolls.” Below is an excerpt from the book… if it wets your whistle, make sure to get yourself a copy!
My simple method has taught thousands of total beginners how to play bluegrass banjo. It can help you too, I promise. Pinky swear.