G Licks for the 5-String Banjo – Part Three
In previous posts I have talked about banjo licks and today I’m going to revisit some G licks for the 5-string banjo. A lot of the time the banjo plays the melody of a song, of course the melody notes are mixed in with filler notes, but the melody dominates. In this post we are going to explain how you can use banjo licks in place of the melody to improve your playing.
A banjo lick is a musical phrase that has a great sound and works well in a variety of situations. These licks can be heard in popular Bluegrass songs and help to define the Bluegrass banjo sound. Everyone recognizes the banjo lick that kicks off Foggy Mountain Breakdown, that is an example of a banjo lick, a Scruggs lick to be exact.
Have a listen here:
Let’s take a closer look at this lick – it is a G lick – Why? Because if you were to play backup on the first measure you would be playing a G chord. It is also a Scruggs lick because Earl Scruggs popularized it.
Here’s another commonly used G lick to try out, this one is a little easier to use and can be combined with backup or used in a break, it’s up to you where and how you use them.
The idea with a banjo lick is that it can be used in place of the melody line of a song. This can spice up your banjo playing and give you a toolbox of licks to fall back on when you need them. Just remember, DO NOT overuse banjo licks, they can needlessly clutter up a song – music is a team sport.