with Steve Baughman

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About This Course

Learn how to use the traditional clawhammer style of old-time banjo on the guitar to play traditional dance tunes with a powerful groove or sweet, contemplative melodies. With clawhammer technique exercises and 12 great tunes to play.


Steve Baughman is known for his melodic fingerstyle guitar playing, which draws on Celtic, Appalachian, and various ethnic and folk traditions, as well as his clawhammer guitar playing of old-time fiddle tunes with an infectious groove and rhythm. He was described by Dirty Linen magazine as one of the best Celtic fingerpickers in the United States.


Steve is a pioneer of the unique clawhammer guitar technique, one of the few guitarists who have taken the traditional clawhammer style of old-time banjo and made it work powerfully on the guitar as a folk, rock, funk, and blues technique. The album Clawhammer Guitar: The Collection, which features Steve and three other clawhammer guitarists, was named an “essential album” by Acoustic Guitar magazine.

Steve is also a fine composer and dynamite clawhammer banjo player. He has several solo recordings to his credit as well as five books with Mel Bay Publications. He appears with Pierre Bensusan, Martin Simpson, and Pat Kirtley on the Rounder Records Celtic guitar collection Ramble to Cashel and his duo album with Robin Bullock, Celtic Guitar Summit, was voted one of the best albums of 2003 by Acoustic Guitar magazine, which also called his album Farewell to Orkney “a must for all lovers of guitar and especially Celtic music.” Steve is a regular teacher at guitar camps across the US, including the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Swannanoa Gathering, and California Coast Music Camp. .

Watch the video above to get a taste of what you’ll learn in Steve Baughman’s Clawhammer Guitar course.

Sample Clawhammer Guitar Lesson

Shady Grove, Part 1

Learn to play a simple version of the traditional music favorite “Shady Grove” using the clawhammer bum-ditty pattern. With Notation/Tab

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Lesson Checklist

Download a PDF list of all the Clawhammer Guitar lessons so you can keep track of your progress.

Clawhammer Guitar Lessons

 A Clawhammer Guitar subscription includes: 

  • A step-by-step approach to mastering clawhammer guitar technique
  • 12 complete clawhammer guitar arrangements to play
  • Detailed tab/notation for all lessons
  • High-quality video with multiple camera angles so you can see closeups of both hands in action
  • Play-Along Tracks so you can practice what you’ve learned

Get started now! Use promo code SteveLand at checkout and get your first month free or $20 off an annual subscription. Subscribe to the Clawhammer Guitar course today for access to all of these guitar lessons and new material every month!  


  • Intro to Clawhammer Steve introduces the concept of using clawhammer banjo technique on the guitar and demonstrates some of the kinds of music you can play with clawhammer. 
  • Basic Clawhammer Technique: Bum-Ditty Learn the basic bum-ditty rhythm pattern at the heart of clawhammer guitar technique. To play clawhammer style, you strike downward using the back of your fingernail (as opposed to picking upward in standard fingerstyle guitar technique) and your thumb plays on the pickup to the downbeat. Once you’re comfortable with the basic motion, you’ll learn to isolate strings with your downpick on the top four strings, which are the ones you’ll use to play melodies.
  •  Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs Learn how to add hammer-ons and pull-offs to the basic bum-ditty pattern, first on a simple E minor chord and then with single melody notes on individual strings. You’ll also learn how to combine them with the bum-ditty pattern.

FIRST CLAWHAMMER GUITAR TUNE: “SHADY GROVE” Learn to play the traditional music favorite “Shady Grove” using many of the techniques you’ve already learned. Steve shows you how to modify the bum-ditty pattern by just playing a single note instead of the brush stroke, and then he walks you through the melody of “Shady Grove” phrase by phrase, giving you a chance to play along with him as he goes. He also shows you how to add hammer-ons and pull-offs to the melody

USING TAB Steve talks about his philosophy of using tab as a learning tool. He recommends that you use it as a general guide not as a specific “it has to go exactly like this every time” rule.

MIGRATING THE THUMB So far you’ve been playing the bum-ditty clawhammer pattern with your thumb just playing the sixth string, but it can play other strings as well. In this lesson, you’ll learn to “migrate” your thumb to other strings, first with a version of “Shady Grove” in the key of A, where your thumb will play the fifth string (A), and then in G modal tuning (DGDGCD), a popular clawhammer guitar tuning that will not only make it easier to finger melodies but to use your thumb on different strings.

PERCUSSIVE SLAPS AND TAPS Learn how to play percussive slaps and left-hand filler taps. Using the version of “Shady Grove” in G modal tuning, Steve shows you a percussive slap that you can use in place of the brush in the bum-ditty pattern. Steve also shows you how to use a filler tap (a tap of a string with the left-hand) in the space between the “bum” and the “ditty” in the bum-ditty pattern, and where to use it in “Shady Grove.”

CRIPPLE CREEK The old-time favorite “Cripple Creek” is one of the first tunes banjo players learn to play, and it makes a great clawhammer guitar tune as well. You’ll learn to play it in open-G tuning: DGDGBD. Steve shows you a slide and pull-off lick you’ll need to play “Cripple Creek” before walking you through a basic version of the melody. Once you’ve learned the melody Steve shows you a version with the thumb playing the third string and how to add a palm slap.

SIX ESSENTIAL TECHNIQUES Learn six essential techniques you’ll need to know to move forward with clawhammer guitar. Steve introduces double-C tuning on the guitar (CGCGCD), a great tuning you’ll use to learn all of these important techniques as well as some upcoming tunes. Steve walks you slowly through all the techniques, which include open-string pull-offs and hammer-ons, alternating thumb, drop thumb, single-string bum-ditty, and more.

USING THUMBPICKS AND/OR FINGERPICKS Most clawhammer players don’t use picks of any sort, but Steve has found that using a thumbpick and/or a fingerpick placed backward on the index finger can work well for certain kinds of tunes.


  • Angeline the Baker “Angeline the Baker” is one of the most popular tunes in traditional music. You’ll learn a version of the tune played clawhammer style in double-C tuning (CGCGCD). Steve walks you through his arrangement, showing you where to play the melody with open-string pull-offs and hammer-ons and where to play regular pull-offs and hammer-ons.
  • Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss “Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss” is another old-time fiddle tune that sounds great played clawhammer style on the guitar. Like “Angeline the Baker” you’ll learn it in double-C tuning (CGCGCD). Steve takes it apart, phrase by phrase, showing you a few melodic options as he goes.
  • Hard Times Stephen Foster’s beautiful melody “Hard Times” is a good tune to learn a form of clawhammer guitar that uses gentler strums, a sort of rake across numerous strings with the fingernail that produces a more chordal sound. Steve’s arrangement is in double-C tuning (CGCGCD) with some cool moving lines and chord voicings.
  • Little Sadie Learn to play the old-time ballad “Little Sadie” in G modal or “mountain modal” tuning (DGDGCD). Steve shows you the basic melody before showing you how to “bum-dittify” the tune, which just has one part. He also shows you a few things to spice up your arrangement, including playing different strings with your thumb, adding percussive slaps, and a cool octave bass lick.
  • Reuben’s Train, Part 1 Steve’s arrangement of the traditional song “Reuben’s Train” is in open-D tuning (DADF#AD) and includes a lot of great clawhammer techniques. In addition to the basic melody of both parts, you’ll learn a few simple embellishments and variations you can add, like open-string pull-offs and percussive slaps.
  • Reuben’s Train, Part 2 In this second lesson on playing “Reuben’s Train,” Steve adds a number of variations, including one that sounds a lot like the great clawhammer banjo player Wade Ward’s tune “Peach Bottom Creek.” He also introduces some new techniques. You’ll learn “clawmonics” (in which you play the melody with 12th-fret harmonics), how to use a slide on the ring finger of your fretting hand, and more.
  • Cluck Old Hen Learn the old-time banjo favorite “Cluck Old Hen” in double dropped-D tuning, in which you drop both E strings down to D (DADGBD). In addition to a basic arrangement of the tune, Steve shows you how to spice it up with clawmonics, double stops, harmony lines, and open-string pull-offs.
  • Home Sweet Home The American folk classic “Home Sweet Home” sounds great played clawhammer style in open-G tuning. You’ll learn a basic version as well as a variation on the second part that uses barre chords.
  • Old Joe Clark “Old Joe Clark” is a popular old-time and bluegrass tune. In this lesson you’ll learn an unusual Texas-style version of “Old Joe Clark” that comes from fiddler Howard Rains. Steve’s arrangement is in open-G tuning, and after playing it through a few times he breaks down the melody of both parts, showing you a few variations as he goes. He also shows you how you can move the thumb up to the top strings to give it a lighter, gentler sound.  
  • Brushy Fork of John’s Creek There are a few different versions of the old-time fiddle tune “Brushy Fork of John’s Creek.” Steve’s version is in Orkney tuning (CGDGCD), which is like G modal tuning, but with the low D string tuned down to C.
  • Falls of Richmond The minor-key four-part tune “Falls of Richmond” comes from fiddler Edden Hammonds. Steve plays it in DADGAD tuning.

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