Banjo Licks for E minor

E minor Banjo Licks-Free Lesson

banjo player's right hand

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So much banjo music is in the key of G and you’ll encounter an E minor chord a lot.  It’s the most common chord in the key of G.  So it’s a good idea to have some a large vocabulary of licks for this chord. THESE are some COOL BANJO LICKS you can use bunches!

You can put these banjo licks to immediate use in songs like “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” or “Blackberry Blossom,” basically anywhere you’ll encounter an E MINOR CHORD.

Cool E minor Banjo Lick Ideas

The first lick uses the E minor position at the 7th-9th frets, but uses an A note on top, or the 4th of the chord.  It also uses CHROMATICISM.  I learned this from a local melodic banjo player many years ago.

The second lick, I THINK I got it from Scott Vestal, I can’t remember.  It uses a nice roll (5212) and moves through some E minor based chord shapes.  I use this lick in “Temperance Reel” sometimes.

The third lick is something I stole from John Coltrane.  See his break to “Mr PC.”  It is in the key of C minor, I simply transposed it to the E minor chord.  This is the most difficult of the licks and I only recommend for those at a skill of intermediate and above.

Closing Notes

Remember when learning licks, you often have to modify them slightly to make them work across other songs, perhaps dropping or adding notes.  Also, you want to use these licks in a BUNCH of different songs, the more you use them the more they will flow out of you.  You have to get to the point that they don’t sound contrived and flow effortlessly.

You can purchase the TAB to these banjo licks here:

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Maybe you need some more minor banjo licks, but this time in the key of D minor?  Well, I’ve got you covered.  Visit my D minor banjo lick article.

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Jody Written by:

Professional Musician of 27 years. I've performed on the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Grand Ole Opry, and The Ryman Auditorium. I've also played in 6 different countries. All things Banjo and Acoustic Guitar.