Jack Tuttle
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Jack Tuttle's Bluegrass Banjo Primer

Banjo Primer

To order by mail

For orders outside the US, you must order from here.


This book is a result of my developing a well thought-out lesson program for banjo over the last twenty years of teaching. In this 100 page spiral-bound book, the tablature is laid out in a graduated fashion. In the beginning lessons, we use simple three-finger rolls, combined with chords and melodies to play some standard bluegrass songs. As we progress, we introduce the hammer, slide and pull-off licks associated with Earl Scruggs.

As the pieces move along, we learn some classic solos I have transcribed through the years from Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, J.D. Crowe and other banjo greats, mixed in with lots of my own arrangements of commonly played bluegrass jam pieces, all with an eye toward developing the correct stylistic elements essential to bluegrass banjo. Also included are back-up ideas, vamping patterns, movable licks, vocal endings, double tag endings, and ¾ style playing ideas.

For an idea of the quality of the transcriptions, you can download PDF samples on my transcription page.

Below is the song index from this book. The links below are mp3s of the songs. For mp3s of earlier editions of the book (Bluegrass Collection Volume 1) go here.

Worried Man Blues simple arranement, uses one forward roll all the way
Red Clay Halo introduces the alternating thumb roll
Over in the Gloryland introduces the forward reverse roll
Over in the Gloryland backup: simple chordal backup style
Banjo in the Hollow uses forward-reverse roll much of the way
I'll Fly Away mixes previously learned rolls
Cripple Creek (1) simplified arrangement
Boil Em Cabbage Down: introduces a new forward roll that leads with the index finger
Way Downtown using the previous forward roll more with some pull-offs
My Little Girl in Tennessee adds in a new classic Scruggs roll, but still using my arrangement
Roll on Buddy reverse roll introduced
Roll on Buddy backup: introduces vamping
Foggy Mountain Top mix of things rolls and some new hammer-on ideas
Will The Circle Be Unbroken? uses forward roll in a new way
Lonesome Road Blues (1) introduces another classic Scruggs roll
Lonesome Road Blues backup: vamping with fill licks
Old Joe Clark my arrangement
I Saw the Light another new roll added
Freight Train focuses on a two-finger roll
Cripple Creek (2) the first real Scruggs arangement in the book
Doug's Tune written by Doug Dillard - uses one of the classic rolls associated with him
Dooley one more by Doug Dillard
Hot Corn Cold Corn Scruggs's version
Down the Road loosely based on the Scruggs version
Dark Hollow first piece in the book played in the key of C
Dark Hollow (backup) some more backup ideas for C
Short Life Of Trouble first waltz (3/4) in the book
Short Life of Trouble backup
Bury Me Beneath The Willow lots of standard Scruggs ideas
This Morning At Nine focuses on a roll that leads with the middle finger
Cora is Gone waltz
Cora is Gone backup
Little Cabin Home on the Hill
Little Cabin Home on the Hill backup
Cumberland Gap classic Scruggs break that moves up the neck
The Bluebirds Are Singing For Me another key of C break
Fireball Mail classic Scruggs break
Clinch Mountain Backstep a Ralph Stanley banjo classic - fairly close to his version
Ballad of Jed Clampet Scruggs solo taken from the actual TV show theme
Old Home Place my arrangement of a Dillard's classic - pretty standard solo
Big Mon
my arrangement of Bill Monroe authored fiddle tune. Scruggs style approach
Molly and Tenbrooks my transcription of Craig Smith's break
Foggy Mountain. Breakdown classic Scruggs piece as he played it his first time through the tune (1948 solo)
Foggy Mtn. Breakdown (up the neck) his most classic up-the-neck break (1948)
I'm Blue, I'm Lonesome Bill Monroe classic played out of C
Squirrel Hunters an old fiddle tune, suddenly popular
Highway Of Regret Ralph Stanley's classic solo
Walls Of Time bluesy break in the key of C
Nobody's Love Is Like Mine Ralph Stanley's classic solo
Pretty Polly Ralph Stanley's classic solo
Stoney Point fiddle tune in G
The Old Home Town from J.D. Crowe with the Bluegrass Album Band
Ain't Gonna Work Tomorrow my version in C - drop C tuning
Katy Daley Ralph Stanley's classic solo
It Takes One To Know One Jimmy Martin classic waltz
It Takes One To Know One backup
Blue Ridge Cabin Home from J.D. Crowe with the Bluegrass Album Band
Blue Ridge Cabin Home backup
Train 45 Paul Craft's version as he played it with Jimmy Martin
Sunnyside Of The Mountain my arrangement
Salt Creek my arrangement of a fiddle clasic, Scruggs style
I'll Never Shed Another Tear from J.D. Crowe with the Bluegrass Album Band
Soldier's Joy my version played out of D (5th string capo'd up two)
Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms classic Scruggs break
Theme Time my very straight ahead version of a banjo tune from the Jimmy Martin repertoire
Pike County Breakdown classic Scruggs break that uses some single-string
Bill Cheatum my version with some melodic style
Think Of What You've Done from Jim Mills' recording with Ricky Skaggs
Cherokee Shuffle my version of a fiddle tune classic
My Rose of Old Kentucky up the neck example of Bill Monroe song
Liberty my version - uses some syncopation
Little Maggie classic Scruggs up-the-neck break
Ground Speed classic Scruggs break
Head Over Heels In Love With You from J.D. Crowe with the Bluegrass Album Band
Head Over Heels backup
Why Did You Wander? my version of a straight ahead up-the-neck solo
Salty Dog classic Scruggs break
Ocean Of Diamonds my arrangement of a Jimmy Martin waltz classic in F
Ocean of Diamonds backup lots of classic 3/4 fill licks every banjo player should know
Arkansas Traveler my take on a standard fiddle tune played out of C (capo 2)
Lonesome Road Blues (2) classic Scruggs up-the-neck break
East Virginia Blues based on the playing of Harley Bray (Bray Brothers) played out of C
Blackberry Blossom my arrangement - mostly melodic style
Foggy Mountain Special classic Scruggs break

Updated January 23, 2019Date -->