Keith Urban Banjo Lesson

Keith Urban isn’t known for having a vast collection of songs solely featuring the banjo. However, he cleverly incorporates the banjo into a number of his tracks, adding a unique flavor and rhythmic complexity.

Here are some prominent examples:

  • Somebody Like You (2002): This chart-topping hit features a prominent banjo riff throughout the song, particularly in the verses. The banjo adds a distinctive percussive element that complements the driving guitar work and catchy melody.
  • Gone Tomorrow (Here Today) (2004): This song features a subtle yet effective banjo part. Urban utilizes the banjo for specific sections, adding a layer of texture and a touch of bluegrass influence.
  • Hurricane (2010): The energy of this song is further amplified by the banjo’s presence. The banjo blends seamlessly with the electric guitars, creating a dynamic and textured soundscape.
  • Live Performances: While not strictly “songs,” Urban is known to incorporate the banjo into his live shows for electrifying renditions of classic bluegrass tunes like “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” or surprising jams with guest artists. These moments showcase his talent for improvisation and his deep appreciation for the banjo’s musical heritage.

Keith Urban Banjo Lesson

In this video by Keith Urban, he shows us how to play the iconic banjo licks from his songs “Gone Tomorrow (Here Today)” and “Somebody Like You.”

Check out our free Banjo Tabs resource.

Learn how to play the iconic banjo licks from “Gone Tomorrow (Here Today)” and “Somebody Like You” with this lesson from Keith Urban himself!

Keith Urban: Never Comin Down – Live from his Studio

Video text:

hi everyone keith here um i’ve had a few

people asking me

about uh two different banjo

licks in my songs um

one of them being song called gone


here today and uh i just thought

i’d grab this six-string d-ring and

play you the figure of how i’m doing it

so let’s see i’ll zoom in here a little


so basically we’ve got the open d string

just an open d tilt the camera around so

you can see what’s going on

all right uh

pointy finger on the g string on

whatever the hell this fret is

that one right there and then pinky

on the b a b string up here


those are my three primary strings i’m

going to use for this

opening figure

the reason i’m using the pinky is

because i’ve got to slide it up for


to make that chord


so here on this end i’m just rolling

with uh if we don’t flat pick it which i

think i did on the record was a flat

pick but

if we use fingers it would be


that’s that first part the next one is

going to slide from here


that’s the high e and the v string

making those sounds

which is a tone between them making it

almost a dissonant thing



that’s that sequence


and then you complete the phrase by


on that b string

so together it’s


there you go the next one uh

is somebody like you

oof in e

uh it’s a three finger pattern so your g


b string and the e string these three

i’m just putting my uh my pointy

finger on the uh whatever the hell that

fret is

so those are open here

and it’s just you can use any finger

it’s just sliding

that finger up a tone every time

until a half tone so


that’s the simplistic foundation of it

is the movement of

so you’re only ever moving one’s one

string at a time so uh i mean you’re

only moving one

one string on a fret at the time so

so it’s really then it’s just more about

the hammer-ons the






i hope that’s of some help bye

Keith Urban: Beyond the Strum – Unveiling a Banjo Master

Keith Urban, a name synonymous with country music’s modern era, has captivated audiences with his electrifying guitar work and soulful vocals. But beneath the glitz and glamor lies a hidden talent – his mastery of the humble banjo. This unassuming instrument plays a surprisingly significant role in Urban’s musical journey, shaping his sound and influencing his songwriting.

Early Twangs: The Roots of Urban’s Banjo Connection

Urban’s fascination with the banjo began in his childhood home of Australia. Exposed to the rich heritage of bluegrass music, particularly through his grandfather, a banjo player himself, Urban was drawn to the instrument’s bright, percussive sound. He started learning the banjo at a young age, honing his skills and laying the foundation for his future musical explorations.

Beyond Bluegrass: Experimentation and Genre-Bending

While bluegrass undoubtedly left its mark, Urban didn’t confine his banjo playing to traditional styles. He embraced experimentation, incorporating banjo elements into his signature country-rock sound. Tracks like “Somebody Like You” and “Hurricane” showcase his ability to seamlessly blend banjo riffs with driving guitar work, adding a layer of rhythmic complexity and a touch of bluegrass twang to his music.

The Songwriter’s Secret Weapon: The Banjo’s Influence on Composition

The banjo’s influence extends beyond embellishing Urban’s recorded music. He often utilizes the banjo during the songwriting process. The instrument’s simple yet versatile nature allows him to explore melodies and chord progressions in a unique way. The banjo’s rhythmic structure can inspire percussive guitar parts or even serve as the foundation for entire song ideas.

Live Performances: Electrifying the Audience with Unexpected Twists

Urban’s live shows are renowned for their energy and audience engagement. The banjo takes center stage on occasion, offering a refreshing departure from the typical electric guitar-driven performances. Witnessing Urban’s virtuosity on the banjo adds a layer of surprise and delight for fans, showcasing his exceptional musicianship and versatility.

Some of Urban’s most notable live banjo moments include his cover of the classic bluegrass tune “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and his impromptu banjo jams with bluegrass legends like Béla Fleck. These performances highlight his respect for the instrument’s tradition while demonstrating his ability to infuse it with his own contemporary flair.

The Future of the Banjo in Urban’s Music

While the banjo might not be the most prominent instrument in Urban’s repertoire, it remains a constant companion. Its influence is likely to continue shaping his music, both in the studio and on stage. As he continues to evolve as a musician, the banjo might find its way into unexpected sonic territories, further blurring the lines between genres and pushing the boundaries of contemporary country music.

A Legacy of Innovation: Urban and the Evolution of the Country Sound

Keith Urban’s embrace of the banjo is emblematic of his broader approach to music. He isn’t afraid to experiment, drawing inspiration from diverse genres and instruments. By incorporating the banjo into his sound, he injects a touch of tradition and unexpected charm, ultimately contributing to the evolution of the modern country music landscape.

In conclusion, Keith Urban’s relationship with the banjo goes beyond mere proficiency. It’s a testament to his musical curiosity, his respect for tradition, and his relentless pursuit of innovation. The banjo may not be the first instrument that comes to mind when you think of Keith Urban, but its presence in his music serves as a reminder of the depth and versatility of this talented artist.

What banjo strings does Keith Urban use?

While there isn’t a definitive source revealing the exact banjo strings Keith Urban uses, here’s some information that might be helpful:

  • D’Addario Endorsement: Keith Urban has a longstanding endorsement deal with D’Addario for his guitar strings. They showcase his praise for D’Addario strings on their website, highlighting their qualities like tuning stability, longevity, and feel.
  • D’Addario Banjo Strings: D’Addario does offer banjo string sets, including NYXL banjo strings and Nickel Bronze banjo strings. It’s possible that Urban might use these strings on his banjo, considering his existing relationship with the brand.
  • Genre and Tuning: Given Urban’s style of incorporating the banjo with a country-rock twist, some speculate he might use strings suited for a brighter sound. This could point towards nickel-plated banjo strings, known for their brighter tone compared to traditional phosphor bronze.
  • 6-String Banjo: It’s important to note that Urban plays a 6-string banjo, which might be tuned differently than a traditional 5-string banjo. The specific string gauges and tuning could also influence his choice of strings.

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