Learn to Play – John Henry on Banjo

“John Henry” is a traditional American folk song that tells the legendary story of a heroic African-American steel driver who worked on the railroads. With its powerful and rhythmic melodies, “John Henry” has become an enduring symbol of the struggles and triumphs of the working class. The song has been covered by numerous artists throughout history, solidifying its place as a beloved and influential piece of American musical heritage. In this video, by Jim Pankey, we show you how to play ‘John Henry’ on the Banjo.

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Video text:

Thank you hey y’all Jim Pankey here with John Henry and we’re going to do it in the key of D I I know I’ve done this in the past in in G but Earl did it in D and it lays out really nicely in detuning so we’re going to talk about the tuning and then we’ll

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we’ll jump right into the tune but first if you like this sort of content if this is the sort of thing that you’re into feel free to hit a like button leave a comment and if you want to help the channel grow be sure to subscribe there’s a lot of you not subscribing you need to subscribe because well it’s free and if you want to get notifications when I post new content ring that bell all right let’s look at this tune there there’s uh there’s a lot of quarter notes in this song and it’s as I tell my students all the time it’s never wrong to play the melody and sometimes it’s just it’s just nice and neat that way this song starts at the seventh fret and we’re just gonna play seven on the first string nine and then 12 on the first string [Music] five two one five one five and all the

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way back to seven and we’re rocking on that fifth string so that [Music] and then nine pick it up and then we’re gonna move over to the second string seventh fret and we’re going to do a forward roll and we’re gonna do a choke [Music] so that all sounds like [Music] that’s the same [Music] so we’re going to be at the 10th fret on the first string and then at the nine and now we’re gonna jump back here to the fifth fret and we are going to slide

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from five to seven and we’re going to do a forward roll one five two one five two one five two one five it’s a whole bunch of forward so it sounds like up to that point [Music] any kind of forward roll will work there and then it does that lead in again [Music] and then to the seven so [Music] forward roll we’re going to bend on the second string at the seventh fret [Music] one two three one and we’re going to put our index on the

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third string at the fifth so five two one five and now we’re going to come to the second string at the seventh fret and we’re going to pinch one and two and do some big bends and we’re gonna stick a fifth string between them but it’s kind of side [Music] so [Music] those bins are big [Music] and then [Music] so pull that from the other part of the song and then five two one five with a bends

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and now we need it now we need a tag on the end so that’s just three two one three and then a pull off from three to two on the fourth string one follows that [Music] open so that whole break slowly sounds like [Music] foreign [Music] [Music]

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now let’s look at a variation of this break uh it’s going to be pretty much the same thing but I’m gonna play through it slow again we’re going to use a lot of the elements from the first part and then the places where I change I’m going to point out to you and then we’ll look at them you can do this so watch starch the same [Music] this is a different instead of 5215 stand where we are we’re going to put our pinky at the 15th fret [Music] okay [Music] well that’s the same so all we did was just add a pinky and then our slide [Music]

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and now we have another variation so that’s just a walk up from seven eight nine on the fourth string and then down to the first string oh so that’s just nine seven and then we’re going to hammer from eight to nine on the second string and then the first string open so that sounds like let’s go through that much [Music]

0:08:00.7 –>
so so that’s first string five [Music] oh that’s the same [Music] so I do a little different variation there [Music] so five to three and then the pull off from three to two and then the fourth string open and then the same tag we did in the first part so here’s the whole thing never fear I have a tab shared if your patreon member you you know you get the tabs for free but I also have it on my selfie site so you can go grab it if you need it but I don’t think you will I think you can do

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this [Music] oh [Music] [Music] all right folks that gives you a John Henry in D take your time with it

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there’s licks that you you’re gonna have to work on and figure out and this isn’t necessarily for the folks that just finished my 10 lesson Series so hang in there and if you’re coming at this fairly fresh give yourself some time you can do it all right folks we’ll see you next time bye

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