The number of tunes that the average US citizen recognizes on the banjo can be counted on one hand.
And chances are, if you find yourself playing your 5 string in public and a random passerby musters the courage to make a request, chances are it’ll be one of those tunes.
Said passerby won’t care that all of those tunes were originally played 3-finger style and not clawhammer, nor will they likely be interested in you enlightening them as to the stylistic differences between the two. You, sir, have a banjo in your hands, and are expected to know banjo songs.
The Ballad of Jed Clampett, a.k.a the theme song to the Beverly Hillbillies TV show, is one of those songs (for those unfamiliar with it, The Beverly Hillbillies was a TV show that aired on American TV from 1962-1971. It was about a poor mountain family who strike it rich by finding oil on their property, and naturally end up moving to Beverly Hills, California to be amongst fell rich folk. Clashing of cultures and hilarity ensues.).
So for this week’s tune, I’ve taken this popular Scruggs classic and adapted it for clawhammer banjo.
Love em or hate em, these iconic banjo songs are virtually guaranteed to bring smiles to people’s faces. So if evoking smiles is something you enjoy, I think it’s worth knowing em.
The Ballad of Jed Clampett
gDGBD tuning, Brainjo level 3-4
Notes on the tab
Skip Notes: The notes denoted as a shaded box are “skip” notes, meaning they’re not actually sounded by the picking finger. Instead, you continue the clawhammer motion with your picking hand, but “skip” playing the note by not striking it (this is a technique used to add space and syncopation). The fret number you see in the shaded box is the suggested note to play should you elect to strike the string.
By request, here’s the bluegrassy tag lick I play at the end: