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  4. The Alternating Thumb Roll

The Alternating Thumb Roll

Your First Roll Pattern

Learning roll patterns is a great way to get familiar with right hand technique on the banjo. In this lesson, you'll learn your first roll pattern - the alternating thumb roll.

The alternating thumb roll is a four note pattern that starts on the 3rd string with your thumb. The strings you'll be playing for this roll are 3251 and you'll be using your thumb on the 3rd and 5th strings, index on the 2nd, and middle on the 1st. The goal for this exercise is to get familiar with playing notes while maintaining good right hand technique. Remember to anchor one finger on the head and keep your fingers close to the strings when playing. Focus on evenness of notes and smooth timing.

The Alternating Thumb Roll

Listen to and play with the tab below to get comfortable playing this roll pattern. The right hand fingering is underneath the staff as a reminder for which fingers to use. If 50 bpm feels too fast for you, slow it down even more. Timing trumps speed at this stage and playing slowly gives you more time to think about the notes you're going to play and allows your mind to process everything going on learning this new skill.