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Free Banjo Tutorial

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Gerry O’Connor

Gerry O’Connor

Gerry O’Connor’s early musical influences are founded in the music of Kerry and Tipperary, the home places of his parents. Growing up in Nenagh, he was also strongly influenced by the music of the great Paddy O’Brien.

Gerry began to win national awards for his outstanding playing at an early age, and, as a teenager, had a huge influence on the Irish music scene in Dublin when he teamed up with Manus Lunny.

After short spells with The Wild Geese and Arcady, he recorded his first solo album in 1992, which firmly established him as a solo performer in his own right.

In 1993 Gerry joined Four Men and a Dog, and went on to record three critically acclaimed albums.

Gerry is currently performing with one of Ireland’s top guitarists Dick Farrelly, formally of the Van Morrison Band. He recorded his second solo album Myriad in 1999.

"Gerry O’Connor may be the single best four string banjoist in the history of Irish Music. It seems a tall statement to make but his phenomenal technique fully justifies it. O’Connor tosses off runs and ornaments with effortless virtuosity and his jazz-like penchant for experimentation and risk taking will remind listeners of American five string banjo players like Bela Fleck and Alison Brown. If ever a musician truly ‘owned’ the instrument he plays Gerry O’Connor ‘owns’ the four-string banjo. He is in every sense of the word sensational"

Gerry O’Connor ‘owns’ the four-string banjo

The scale of G.

The scale of G is slightly more difficult than the scale of D. You will notice though that the pattern is the same. It is only because of where the scale starts on the banjo that it is more difficult. It starts with the little finger placed on the 5th fret on the D string .This scale is played using 3 strings of the banjo. The notes A, B, C and D, are on the A string. E, F# and G, are on the E string. Be sure to play C natural (second finger) and not C#.

The scale of G.

Play Video ⬇

Beginners - Molly Malone.

This time it’s Dublin’s most famous ballad. Listen to the way the G note is played. It's all in the right hand. Try to remember the tempo that the song would be sung at.

Molly Malone

Play Video ⬇

Advanced - The Connachtman’s Rambles.

I hint at a chord structure here, as I play G, B, E across three strings, starting with the G on the D string, B on the A string, and the open E string. This is a nice effect, and, when you know the tune better, you could develop it further (though it’s not very traditional in nature!).

Watch out for the long stretch from F# to high B, (second fret to the seventh fret). Your little finger should be improving (strength-wise) at this stage.

The Connachtman’s Rambles

Play A Part ⬇

Play B Part ⬇

Play Full Tune ⬇