Old Time Fingerstyle Banjo ~ Luther Strong Arrangements

I recently began transcribing some old-time fiddle tunes for fingerstyle banjo.  I happened upon Luther Strong and really liked his versions of these tunes.  So I adapted them for banjo (no picks).  I’m playing my 1978 Gibson RB-250 in these videos.  The darker sound of mahogany seemed suitable.

Hog Eyed Man

This first song is entitled “Hog Eyed Man.”  I found a version of Dan Gellert playing it on the fiddle and then stumbled down the Luther Strong path in my research.  I love Dan’s playing if you haven’t checked him out, you should!

I did this in G, although it seems it’s commonly done in A.  I liked the lower G key for this one a bit better myself.  

Hickory Jack

Luther Strong‘s version is really a great example of why you can’t learn mountain music from written notation.  In the first pass, he adds two and half measures to the B section.  The next time they don’t appear and he repeats the A section three times instead of two.

It shows how these ‘”tunes” were a bit in flux as folk music.  Often a musician just plays by feel, not worried about beats/measures and things only conveyed on a page.

For this Hickory Jack arrangement, I tuned my fourth string down to low A and the fifth string to A.  I originally had put the part up an octave but decided I wanted some low growl; I had never done this tuning before.

If I was going to work up songs in this tuning, I’d probably get different strings (a thicker one) to better accommodate the lower tuning.  It can get a bit floppy with a lighter string.

I did this in A without a capo and I added my own ‘crooked-ness to the tune.  I had a version where I took it out, but I kind of liked it and kept it.  If anything, I’m continuing the tradition of playing the tune by feel, haha.

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.