Make Up Your Own Banjo Solos – 2 Volume Set
Learn how to create convincing banjo solos, both “on the fly” in jam sessions and with more precision in your practice time. Here’s the alternative to total dependence on tab and memorizing other people’s arrangements.
“A tremendous amount of information — enough licks to satisfy people looking for those, and, more importantly, great direction on soloing.”
— Bluegrass Unlimited
Close-ups of both hands and printable tab booklets make every note clear!
Volume 1: First-position solos in the key of G
Even novice pickers will easily follow Pete’s gradual approach to soloing. He starts with the basics – simple chords and rolls – showing you how to instantly play a “placeholder” solo, the simplest way to step out in a jam situation with only the chords to go by. He gradually builds in “filler” content – simple moves and phrases adding variety and believability.
On five bluegrass standards, Pete shows you how to hunt down a song’s melody notes and create a full-fledged arrangement featuring the recognizable melody. The addition of appealing licks, lead-ins, tags and other embellishments will give your solos polish and interest.
- Handsome Molly
- Wabash Cannonball
- Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms
- Will the Circle Be Unbroken
- Man of Constant Sorrow
Volume 1 Video Preview
Players at all levels will benefit from the user-friendly information that Pete imparts in this groundbreaking video lesson. Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran picker, Pete gives you the tools you need to build your improvisational and composing skills.
Volume 2: Keys of D, C, F, and Up the Neck in G
Learn how to create convincing solos in common but challenging keys such as D, C, and F, without a capo. Use many of the same ideas to put together solos up the neck in G. Pete makes it easy to learn how to combine melodies and roll patterns – so you can learn to do it on any song!
Pete explores nine bluegrass standards, taking each song’s melody and showing how to weave it into smooth rolls for a full arrangement highlighting the recognizable tune. The addition of appealing licks, bluesy variations and other embellishments will give your solos polish and interest.
Includes the following songs:
Volume 2 Video Preview
- Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms (D, no capo, G tuning)
- As I Went Down to the Valley to Pray (D, no capo, G tuning)
- Angeline the Baker (D, no capo, G tuning)
- Colleen Malone (D, no capo, G tuning)
- Country Blues (D, no capo, G tuning)
- New River Train (C)
- Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow (C Tuning)
- Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down (F)
- Will the Circle Be Unbroken (G up the neck)
Comments from Satisfied Customers
Banjo Newsletter, by Scott Anderson
Make Up Your Own Banjo Solos, Vol. 1
Pete Wernick, 120 Min.
(DVD or download) www.homespun.com
When I started playing banjo years ago there wasn’t a lot of instructional material available. While these were great resources they left many unexplained gaps that a beginner had to struggle to fill. The lucky beginner could find a good teacher. But some, myself included, didn’t have a teacher available and rarely got to see other banjo players.
You kids nowadays have it so easy! You just turn on your computer, pop in a DVD, and have immediate instruction from a pro! In this case, you’ll receive two hours of instruction from Pete Wernick, a very experienced and accomplished player and teacher.
This DVD is geared toward players with some basic banjo knowledge – those who know some basic rolls and chords. Pete demonstrates some of those things but he does so pretty quickly. Because the plan here is for you to be able to jump into a jam session and play! Pete explains some easy to understand ways for you to start doing that, likely using some of what you may already have learned. There are accompanying written materials with roll patterns, chord diagrams, chord charts for the songs, and examples in tablature right on the disc (which you can print out if needed.) Pete also includes some ideas and instruction on how to play along with a recording and even how to make your own practice rhythm track.
Pete first stresses to play cleanly with good timing over chord changes, and uses a method he calls “placeholder” soloing. Here you’re just learning to play along over the chord changes (for Handsome Molly and Wabash Cannonball) without really worrying a lot about the actual melody of a song. This is a very important concept and will go a long way towards creating a functional player. Because really, this is exactly what a bluegrass banjo needs to do much of the time.
He then proceeds to “filler content solos” which utilize the idea of plugging in licks over specific chord changes in a song. These can make the song more interesting and provide a little more of that banjo sound you’re looking for, though still not necessarily sticking close to the melody. Pete demonstrates many common, useful bluegrass banjo licks that work over G, D, and C chords and fleshes out the previous song examples of Wabash Cannonball and Handsome Molly.
A large portion of the runtime is spent on “melody-based soloing.” Pete talks about playing the melody within your solos, and how to find those melody notes. He includes how to use specific licks to play melody notes, within examples of several songs, including new rolls and licks within those examples (Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms, Handsome Molly, Long Journey Home, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, and Man of Constant Sorrow.) Pete teaches using the blues scale (flatting the third and seventh notes of the scale) to create that mournful feel that so many songs require. He goes on to discuss and demonstrate pickup notes or lead-ins for beginning songs and solos.
The video production is top notch with excellent sound and picture. An added benefit of seeing these things on DVD is that with the slow examples, you can hit “fast forward” and hear what that sounds like when played up to speed. Very helpful. Also the right hand/left hand split screen videos can be really helpful for a beginner who’s trying to figure out “How’d he do that?”
The methods here are very similar to what I and a lot of others learned by trial and error. And they work! Throughout, Pete stresses learning to create your own solos rather than concentrating on recreating someone else’s solo. This is a difficult concept for many beginners, but once learned, sets them free from the prison of memorization and opens the door to having a lifetime of jamming fun. And here the concepts are explained simply, clearly, and effectively. I’d recommend this DVD for players looking to take that next step toward improvising and playing with others.
Bluegrass Unlimited, by Chris Stuart
Make Up Your Own Banjo Solos, Vol. 2: What to Play When It’s Your Turn To “Take It.” Keys of D, C, F and G (Up The Neck)
Taught by Pete Wernick, Homespun, 1 hr 55 mins, $29.95. (www.homespuntapes.com)
This second DVD in Pete Wernick’s Make Up Your Own Banjo Solos series on Homespun concentrates on the keys of C, D, E, F, and G—the last primarily up the neck. Songs include “Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms” (D), “As I Went Down To The Valley To Pray” (D), “Angeline The Baker” (D), “Colleen Malone” (D or E), “Country Blues” (D), “New River Train” (C), “Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow” (C Tuning), “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” (F), and “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” (G, up the neck).
Pete is one of the most influential banjo players and teachers of the past twenty years. His teaching style is personable and accessible and this is essentially a two hour private lesson with Pete on playing in the C and D positions and up the neck in G. What I appreciate most about Pete’s teaching is that he starts with the basic chord structure and melody of a song and emphasizes singing along with the melody. He then teaches soloing out of C and D chord positions and how to reach notes in the melody at various points along the neck.
There is a tremendous amount of information here—enough licks to satisfy people looking for those, and, more importantly, great direction on soloing by finding the melody and placing notes around it in virtually any key. The DVD also contains two computer files: a .PDF tab book of all the solos on the DVD and a Word document written by Pete on using and making your own play-along practice recordings. Both of these items add tremendous value to the video.
The two volumes in this series are well worth having as part of your library of banjo instruction material and a great place for a beginner to start on his or her jamming journey. Highly recommended for beginning to intermediate banjo players.