2 Finger Banjo book by Sebastian Schroeder

The two finger old time banjo style, played for generations in eastern Kentucky and North Carolina, largely lost the b battle to the three finger approach popularized by Earl Scruggs in the late 1940s. So much so that very few musicians still play that way, and its rich history is in danger of dying out.

It typically involves using the thumb and index finger of the right hand to play both a melody and accompaniment on the banjo. Mike Seeger kept it going while he was alive, as has Art Rosenbaum, but it is heard more rarely as years go by. 

But now comes Sebastian Schroeder with the first of a three-part series on this picking style, called 2-Finger-Picking Index Lead Style. His goal is to document the style for posterity, and hopefully interest young players in pursuing it.

The 43 page book includes tablature arrangements for a number of popular old time tunes, along with downloadable audio files for the various tunes and exercises. Schroeder says that using this easily-understood style, players can adapt most clawhammer arrangements to 2 finger, using the index finger to play the melody and the thumb the 5th string drone.

Included in the book are:

  • Boil Them Cabbage Down
  • Cripple Creek
  • Cherokee Shuffle
  • June Apple
  • Wildwood Flower
  • Cluck Old Hen
  • Scarborough Fair
  • Old Molly Hare
  • Black Eyed Suzie
  • Needle Case
  • John Henry

2-Finger-Picking Index Lead Style is available for sale at Amazon in either printed form or as a Kindle download.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.