• Multi-Angle Videos 
  • Slo-Motion 
  • Looping 
  • Progress Tracking 


  • 30 Charts (.pdf) 
  • 13 Jam Tracks (.mp3) 
  • 30 Tabs (.gp5 or .ptb) 
  • 1 hr, 28 mins of Video (.mp4) 
  • Download Size: 759.1 MB

Soundslice Enabled 

The streaming version of this course includes the interactive tab & fretboard view.

32 Total Video Lessons: 

30 Bluegrass Banjo Licks Introduction 

  • Lick 1: Down the Road 
  • Lick 2: Shuckin' the Corn 
  • Lick 3: 10th Fret Choke 
  • Lick 4: Sally Goodin' 
  • Lick 5: Shave and a Haircut 
  • Lick 6: Doin' My Time G Fill-in 
  • Lick 7: G Tag Follow Through 
  • Lick 8: Minor Pentatonic Melodic G Blues 
  • Lick 9: Up the Neck G Tag 1 
  • Lick 10: Up the Neck G Tag 2 
  • Lick 11: Standard C with Syncopation 
  • Lick 12: A Bunch of Pull-offs in C 
  • Lick 13: Descending Melodic C  
  • Lick 14: Foggy Mountain Lick in C 
  • LICK 15: C7 Syncopation 
  • LICK 16: Bluesy Tag in D 
  • LICK 17: D Chicken Pickin' 
  • LICK 18: Descending Mando-Style D 
  • Lick 19: Minor Pentatonic D 
  • Lick 20: Groundspeed Lick 
  • Lick 21: Scruggsy F 
  • Lick 22: Melodic F 
  • Lick 23: Em Bluesy 
  • Lick 24: Em Melodic 
  • Lick 25: Melodic A 
  • LICK 26: Melodic Am 
  • LICK 27: Moveable Hammer/Pull Combo 
  • LICK 28: Six White Horses 
  • LICK 29: Standard Ending No. 1 
  • LICK 30: Melodic Fiddle Tune Ending 
  • 30 Bluegrass Banjo Licks Conclusion

Ned Luberecki's 30 Bluegrass Banjo Licks You MUST Know 

Bluegrass Banjo players love -- if not live … to jam. Having command of a large vocabulary of versatile, great sounding licks to craft your solos with is what makes the really great players stand out from the rest. 

In this collection of 30 Bluegrass Banjo Licks from Ned Luberecki, you’ll work on licks for playing over G, C, and D chords, a handful of F, A, Am, and Em licks, and also learn some movable licks that you can play over any chord. 

”We’ll look at licks in Scruggs style, melodic style, bluesy licks that can spice up your playing, and we’ll even cover some standard licks you may already play but maybe haven’t quite mastered the technique yet. You can use any of these for your breaks or as fills and tags. I'll first demonstrate each lick over a backing track and then break it down note-by-note, move-by-move.” 

Down the Road - Lick 1

”This lick is a double hammer-on with a pull-off. Getting the timing right and making the pull-off snap are the keys to making this lick sound right.” 

Shuckin' the Corn - Lick 2

”This one is pretty simple, it's a slide/pull-off combo with an alternating roll. Making the pull-off sound clean is key, but you also have to make sure the timing is right. The slide happens simultaneously with the second string but the pull-off happens just before the second string note. For a little added bluesiness, bend the note at the end of the slide just a bit. And don't take your finger off the string too quickly.” 

10th Fret Choke - Lick 3

”You can't play like Earl or Ralph without this lick! The trick is that you have to play the second string in the neutral position (before the choke) and only hear the bend on the way up (not on the way down). Make sure to bend the note a half step. Don't come up short. It takes practice to make this one sound right!” 

Sally Goodin’ - Lick 4

”The "Sally Goodin'" Lick is played in the G/Em shape and is essential to up-the-neck banjo playing. Getting it to sound right includes getting the 2nd string choke with your 4th finger and also in muting the 3rd string notes at the 9th and 7th frets. Again, this one takes some practice and coordination to make it sound right.” 

Shave and a Haircut - Lick 5

”The classic "Shave and a Haircut" ending that can go on just about any banjo instrumental. There are a couple of variations for this one, and here we'll go over the two classic Scruggs fingerings. The first is more of an arpeggio and the second starts with a pinch of the first two strings. Try to get a bit of a choke or bend on the 2nd string, 11th fret and pay attention not to overemphasize the slide on the 3rd string.” 

Doin' My Time G Fill-in - Lick 6

”Both Earl Scruggs and JD Crowe used this fill-in lick during the chorus and the end of solos in "Doin' My Time". The first beat of this lick is a rest. You can alternately play the third string in place of the rest. It starts with a double pull-off on the first string and the second half is very much like the "Down the Road" Lick (Lick #1).” 

G Tag Follow Through - Lick 7

”This lick can be used to end a solo or as a follow-through in combination with many of the other tag licks included here. Like Lick #6, the first beat is a rest. This lick starts with the "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" hammer-on and then moves into a third-string pull-off and slide. Sometimes, I play the slide at the end as a hammer-on. Either one will work, it just depends on your mood, I guess.” 

Minor Pentatonic Melodic G Blues - Lick 8

”In the '70s, all the melodic style players were really into these minor pentatonic licks. They're kinda like cayenne pepper…used sparingly they can add some spice to your playing, but too much makes it hard to swallow.” 

Up the Neck G Tag 1 - Lick 9

”You've heard players like Earl do this up-the-neck tag lick hundreds of times. It requires a bit of swing and a position shift. Use your fourth finger to fret the 14th fret of the 1st string and hammer the 2nd string from 11 to 12 with your index and middle. Earl sometimes did this as a slide instead of a hammer, but I think you can get a little more power and volume out of the hammer-on.” 

Up the Neck G Tag 2 - Lick 10

”This lick comes from the positions used in "Foggy Mountain Special". It makes a great tag lick for use in up-the-neck playing. This is very similar to Lick #9 but the intro is different. Pay close attention to the left hand fingering on this one and you won't get tangled up.” 

Standard C with Syncopation - Lick 11

”The next 5 licks are played over a C chord. They can either be played over the C chord in the key of G, or can be used in the key of C. Lick 11 is a variation of a standard C lick that starts with a hammer-on, has a nice syncopated pull-off at the end.” 

A Bunch of Pull-offs in C - Lick 12

”This lick uses a lot of pull-offs in much the same way that a clawhammer banjo player might use them. The slide and final pull-off at the end are reminiscent of something a flat-pick guitarist like Doc Watson or Tony Rice might play.” 

Descending Melodic C - Lick 13

”Here's a melodic style lick to use over a C chord. This one starts off a bit like "Groundspeed in C" and then uses a series of forward and backward rolls to move from the C chord at the 10th fret back down to the 1st fret, with a bluesy twist at the end.” 

Foggy Mountain Lick in C - Lick 14

”Here's how you can play the "Foggy Mountain Lick" over a C chord. This is a great one to use for the beginning of songs like "Rawhide" or other hard driving tunes in the key of C.” 

C7 Syncopation - Lick 15

”I borrowed this lick from the great Alan Munde. You'll be using a different fingering for the C7 chord then you're used to. You can also use this lick to resolve to a G chord by replacing the final C note with the open third string.” 

Bluesy Tag in D - Lick 16

”The next five licks are in the key of D. They can either be used in the key of D or over a D chord in the key of G. Lick 16 starts with a standard D ending lick, but moves through a D7 position and ends on the low D string. This one works best for the key of D, but can also be used in G if you're gonna be in D for a while.” 

D Chickin Pickin’ - Lick 17

”This one reminds me of country "Chickin Pickin'" electric guitar playing. You can resolve this one back to D or to G if you replace the last D note with the open G string.” 

Descending Mando-Style D - Lick 18

”I adopted this lick from a mandolin player I used to pick with. It starts as a D major scale descending by thirds and switched to a G major scale at the end. There are a couple of hammer-on notes at the end of the lick. Be careful not to play them too quickly. They are 8th note hammer-ons. This one is used best to resolve from a D to G chord.” 

Minor Pentatonic D - Lick 19

”This one gives you a nice bluesy sounding, descending lick that works over a D chord. I use this one a lot when playing in the key of D, but it will also work over an extended D section in G. You'll have to stretch a bit to reach the 10th fret of the 5th string with your ring finger, but you only have to play that note once, so you don't have to hold the position long.” 

Dmaj7 Groundspeed - Lick 20

”You should recognize this one from the D section of the tune "Groundspeed". This is how to play it. The second part is an arpeggio of the same chord shape and can be used interchangeably with the first lick, or you can combine them together if you need to fill more time.” 

Scruggsy F - Lick 21

”Here's a lick for either the key of F or to play over an F chord in the key of G. Every now and then you'll need to play a tune out of the open F chord position and this will give you a couple of measures worth of Scruggsy sounding pull-offs to help.” 

Melodic F - Lick 22

”This one is a melodic style lick that will work over an F chord. I use this one in songs like "Salt Creek" and "Little Maggie”.” 

Em Bluesy - Lick 23

”This one combines a hand-full of pull-offs into a really bluesy sounding lick for an Em chord. You'll need to play a couple of consecutive notes on the 3rd string. Watch the right hand fingering for this one.” 

Em Melodic - Lick 24

”This lick makes use of a standard G major, melodic style scale and ends with a bluesy pull-off. Remember that Em is the relative minor of the key of G, so any G scale lick will work over an Em chord. The last pull-off and two notes on the 4th string are all single string style. Keep an eye on the right hand fingering.” 

Melodic A - Lick 25

”Here's a short, melodic style lick to use over an A major chord which ends up with a Scruggsy twist. You can actually split this into two licks and use either one if you need a shorter A lick.” 

Melodic Am - Lick 26

”This is almost the same lick as the melodic A lick, but by replacing the C# note on the 3rd string, 6th fret with the C natural at the 5th fret, it changes the lick to Am. Also, notice the hammer-on to the 2nd string, 1st fret. Another C natural note, keeping this lick in Am.” 

Moveable Hammer/Pull Combo - Lick 27

”This lick uses the open 5th string, so it's best when used with chords in the key of G, but it can be used over the barre chord position in A, C, D, Bb, F, G and their relative minors (F#m, Am, Bm, Gm, Dm and Em). The tabbed versions are for C and D, but once you can play the lick, try it out in different positions for different chords.” 

Six White Horses - Lick 28

”This is a lick that Earl Scruggs used in the song "Six White Horses". It's a closed position lick which means it can be played in any key. Just make the F chord shape of the chord you need and it'll fit. It works best over slow to medium tempo songs. The examples shown are for C and D, but you can use this lick anywhere.” 

Standard Ending No. 1 - Lick 29

”This is the lick that's usually played just ahead of the "Shave and a Haircut" lick. The first note of this lick is before the bar line and is very much like the beginning of "Cripple Creek”.” 

Melodic Fiddle Tune Ending - Lick 30

”This is the standard fiddle tune ending lick. It's often also followed by the "Shave and a Haircut" lick. The variation uses a triplet in the beginning to add a little extra sparkle.” 

Ned will explain and demonstrate all of the key concepts and approaches along the way.  You’ll get standard notation and tabs. Plus, Ned includes all of the backing tracks for you to work with on your own. In addition, you’ll be able to loop or slow down any of the videos so that you can work with the lessons at your own pace. 

Grab your banjo and let’s jam with Ned Luberecki!


About the educator

Ned Luberecki

Ned Luberecki is the banjo player for The Becky Buller Band and also tours with Stephen Mougin (of the Sam Bush Band) as Nedski & Mojo. Ned was formerly the banjoist for Chris Jones and the Night Drivers, The Rarely Herd, Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time, The Gary Ferguson Band, Radio Flyer, Paul Adkins and the Borderline Band and in 2018, Ned was voted Banjo Player of the Year by the IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association).  

Ned teaches private banjo lessons in Nashville and now over the internet via webcam! Check out nedski.com for more info. Ned is a popular banjo instructor at music camps across the country and around the world, having taught at Nashcamp, Munich Banjo Camp, Camp Bluegrass, B.C. Bluegrass Workshop, Midwest Banjo Camp and many more.  

Ned is also an on-air personality on Sirius XM Satellite Radios Bluegrass Junction (channel 62). Tune in Sunday Afternoons from 2:00 - 6:00 pm (eastern) for More Banjo Sunday. Ned brings his banjo to the SiriusXM Channel 61 studios and plays live banjo tunes during the show! Stay tuned for the Sunday Banjo Lesson every Sunday at 3:00 pm (eastern) when all the breaks in the hour are devoted to how to play the banjo. Ned also hosts the Newgrass/Progressive Bluegrass show Derailed, Saturday nights 7:00 - 9:00 pm eastern.