Fingerstyle Banjo Song and Tab of the Week: “Shady Grove”

Fingerstyle Banjo Song and Tab of the Week: “SHADY GROVE”

People love the banjo because it is different. 

It looks different than other instruments. It sounds different than other instruments.

And it’s played differently than other instrument – the 5-string banjo in particular.

Contemporary music is all about chords. That’s because the guitar, an instrument well suited for chord-based playing, has played such a prominent role.

But much of the traditional repertoire of the banjo isn’t about chords. It’s about melody and drone.

That’s because the banjo, with the aforementioned short 5th string, is a drone instrument.

Fortunately, it’s also versatile enough to be played in “modern,” chord-based music (like bluegrass).

But there’s a reason the old, pre-chordal songs, like Shady Grove, sound especially great on the banjo.

I’m always a little reluctant to include chord progressions on these modal tunes. Some consider it sacrilege – I think that’s taking things a bit too far.

But I do think we should take advantage of the opportunity these “modal” tunes provide to shift into the “melody-drone” mentality. It opens us up to new musical ideas, and keeps us connected to the banjo’s roots. 


The Banjo Player’s Songbook contains over 50 classic banjo songs, and you can grab it for free. Click here to learn more.


gDGCD tuning, 3 finger banjo

Shady Grove 3 finger banjo tab

Many more tabs, plus step-by-step video tutorials for how to play them, are available inside the Brekathrough Banjo course, which is now FREE for 30 Days

Click here for a list of songs in The Breakthrough Banjo Vault.

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