Sponsored By

About This Course

Learn the style of contemporary three-finger banjo used by Béla Fleck, Noam Pikelny, Ron Block, and others. With lessons on single-string and melodic style, fingerboard theory, improvisation, and more. For intermediate to advanced players.


A banjo player of uncommon grace and facility, Wesley Corbett began classical piano at the age of two. He began playing banjo in high school and has spent the last 17 years studying, touring, and teaching.

WesCorbett.IMG_6473 reduced.square.jpeg

Wesley has recorded and performed with numerous musicians, including Joy Kills Sorrow, the Bee Eaters, the Biscuit Burners, the David Grisman Quintet, Molly Tuttle, Sierra Hull, Sarah Jarosz, Yonder Mountain Stringband, Chris Eldridge, Mike Marshall, Darol Anger, Robert Earl Keen, Crooked Still, Bruce Molsky, Tony Trischka, Alan Munde, and many others. Wesley was professor and grant manager in the banjo program at Berklee College of Music between 2011 and 2015, and he toured internationally with the critically acclaimed acoustic string band Joy Kills Sorrow, which was featured on NPR's A Prairie Home Companion and Mountain Stage. After a few years with the Molly Tuttle Band, he now makes his home in Nashville, Tennessee, where he is working on his first solo album and performing in a duo with hammer dulcimer virtuoso Simon Chrisman.


Watch the video above for a taste of what you’ll learn in Wes Corbett’s Contemporary Bluegrass Banjo course.

Contemporary Bluegrass Banjo Sample Lesson

Variations on “Cripple Creek” Part 2

Wes shows you some ways to vary the melody of “Cripple Creek” and introduces the concept of “melodic style” banjo. With Notation/Tab

Questions About Your Course?

If you have questions about the course or a specific lesson, or want to request a lesson from your instructor, you can email

Contemporary Bluegrass Banjo Lessons

A subscription to Contemporary Bluegrass Banjo includes:

  • Extensive lessons in the three-finger style used by Béla Fleck, Noam Pikelny, Ron Block, and others
  • Essential right- and left-hand technique lessons
  • New lessons and tunes added every month
  • Detailed tablature for every lesson
  • 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 WesLand at checkout and get your first month free or $20 off an annual subscription. Subscribe to the Contemporary Bluegrass Banjo course today for access to all of these banjo lessons and new material every month!

Wes Corbett’s Hawthorn Top-Tension Banjo and Gear Wes talks about his banjo, a Hawthorn top-tension. He explains what top-tension banjos are, how they’re different, and why he likes them. He also talks about a few of the features of his banjo, including the radius fingerboard, Price tailpiece, Snuffy Smith bridge, and fifth-string “spikes.” He talks about tuning the head, which he tunes to F#, the same note Béla Fleck tunes his banjo to and a bit lower than some people tune the banjo to. He also talks about the picks and string gauges he uses.


  • Roll Patterns, Part 1: Basic Rolls If you’re taking this intermediate to advanced level banjo course, we assume you know some basic roll patterns, but to make sure you know the most important roll patterns, and the ones you’ll use most in this course, Wes shows you three basic patterns, starting with the forward roll. He shows you the forward roll starting with the thumb as well as on the index and middle fingers. He follows that with the backward roll (starting on all three fingers), the thumb alternating roll, and the “zigzag” roll. 
  • Roll Patterns, Part 2: Picking-Hand Technique Wes talks about his right-hand technique and the importance of keeping your hand loose and expending as little energy as possible. 
  • Roll Patterns, Part 3: Practicing with a Metronome Wes gives you advice on practicing your roll patterns with a metronome. 


  • Chords, Part 1: Major Chords To become fluent in finding and creating chord shapes, it’s important to understand how chords are created, so Wes starts this lesson by talking about how basic major chords are built. Then he shows you three major chord shapes, giving you advice on fingering each of the shapes. He also gives you an accompaniment pattern to play with the picking hand, often known as vamping, and shows you how to move the shapes to different places around the neck.
  • Chords, Part 2: Seventh and Minor Chords Wes introduces you to the seventh chord, which has four notes—adding a seventh to the root, third, and fifth of the major chord—and the minor chord, in which the third of the major chord is flatted.  


  • Variations on “Cripple Creek,” Part 1: Basic Version In this lesson, Wes give you lots of ideas on creating variations to standard arrangements of a tune, using the banjo classic “Cripple Creek,” which many banjo players learn as their first banjo tune. For those who may have never learned “Cripple Creek,” Wes starts by giving you a basic Scruggs-style version of the tune that includes the essential techniques slides, pull-offs, and hammer-ons.
  • Variations on “Cripple Creek,” Part 2: Variation #1 Wes shows you some ways to vary the melody of “Cripple Creek” and introduces the concept of “melodic style” banjo. Melodic-style was invented by banjoist Bill Keith, who devised a way to play linear note-for-note melodies where you never play the same string consecutively. Wes walks you through the variations phrase by phrase, pointing out how each variation relates to the original melody.
  • Variations on “Cripple Creek,” Part 3: Variation #2 Wes’s second variation on “Cripple Creek,” incorporates some melodic style phrases, Scruggs-style licks, a variation on the zigzag roll, and a few different rhythmic approaches. After walking you through his second set of variations, Wes shows you how to mix and match them to come up with your own variations. 
  • Variations on “Cripple Creek,” Part 4: Play-Along Track for Variation #1 Use this video to play Wes’s first variation of “Cripple Creek” with him at a slow tempo. 
  • Variations on “Cripple Creek,” Part 5: Play-Along Track for Variation #2 Use this video to play Wes’s first variation of “Cripple Creek” with him at a slow tempo.


See Other Peghead Nation Courses

Want to offer feedback
or suggest a lesson?
Need help with the site?