WADE WARDSTYLE BANJO
with Bruce Molsky

Sponsored By

About This Course

Learn the tunes and techniques of one of the legends of old-time clawhammer banjo, Wade Ward, taught by one of the icons of contemporary old-time music. Includes 11 complete tunes as played by Wade Ward.

BRUCE MOLSKY

Bruce Molsky is "one of America's premier fiddling talents" (Mother Jones) and a twice-Grammy nominated artist. The first permanent visiting professor in Berklee College of Music's American Roots Program, Bruce is the go-to guy for the next generation of fiddlers.

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On the road 250 days a year, Bruce tours the world solo and with super groups Mozaik, The Jumpsteady Boys, the Old-Time Kozmik Trio, and as a trio with Aly Bain and Ale Möller. Bruce's latest solo album, If It Ain't Here When I Get Back, was released in the spring of 2013. No Depression called it "an album from an absolute master."

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Watch the video above to get a taste of what you’ll learn in Bruce Molsky’s Wade Ward–Style Banjo course.

Sample Wade Ward–Style Banjo Lesson

Mississippi Sawyer, Part 1

Learn the first part of Wade Ward’s solo version of the square dance tune “Mississippi Sawyer,” which is a little different than the way it would be played for a square dance, in that it drops a beat at the end of each part. With Tablature

Wade Ward–Style Banjo Lessons

A subscription to Wade Ward–Style Banjo includes:

  • In-depth lessons in old-time clawhammer banjo
  • 11 complete tunes as played by old-time banjo legend Wade Ward
  • Detailed tablature for all lessons
  • Play-along tracks, with downloadable MP3s, so you can practice what you’re learning 
  • High-quality video with multiple camera angles so you can see closeups of both hands in action

Get started now! Use promo code “BruceLand” at checkout and get your first month free or $20 off an annual subscription. Subscribe to Wade Ward–Style Banjo today and get access to all these old-time banjo lessons:

WADE WARD

  • Introduction to Wade Ward Bruce talks about how he was introduced to the music of the great old-time banjo player Wade Ward and gives some background on his life and music. 

MISSISSIPPI SAWYER

  • Mississippi Sawyer, Part 1 Wade Ward’s solo version of the square dance tune “Mississippi Sawyer” is a little different than the way it would be played for a square dance, in that it drops a beat at the end of each part. It’s played in double-D tuning: aDADE, where the fourth string is D, third string is A, second string is D, first string is E, and fifth string is A. Bruce shows you the tuning, gives you advice on getting in tune. Then he starts showing you the first part of “Mississippi Sawyer,” which starts with a D chord shape at the fifth fret and a simple bum-ditty pattern. Bruce walks you through each phrase slowly, giving you lots of chances to play along with him as you learn the tune. You’ll learn a basic version of the A part of “Mississippi Sawyer” in this video.
  • Mississippi Sawyer, Part 2 You’ll learn the basic B part of “Mississippi Sawyer” in this video. It includes a lot of material from the first part, so you don’t have that much to learn before you get a good playable basic version.
  • Mississippi Sawyer, Part 3: Embellishments and Variations Learn some of the embellishments and variations that Wade Ward played on “Mississippi Sawyer,” including some cool pull-offs and slides. Bruce also talks about how Wade would accent the brush on the offbeats by playing all four strings, and separating the brush from the melody on the high strings, giving it a great propulsive feeling.
  • Mississippi Sawyer, Part 4: Play-Along Track Bruce plays “Mississippi Sawyer” a couple times at a medium (and then a little faster) tempo so you can play along with him.

REUBEN

  • Reuben, Part 1 Wade Ward played the traditional song “Reuben” or “Reuben’s Train” in an unusual E major tuning, with the fourth string tuned to E, third string to G#, second string B, first string E, and fifth string G#. Bruce shows you the tuning and then starts walking you through a basic version of the A part of “Reuben.” You’ll also learn a pull-off embellishment you can add to the basic bum-ditty pattern.
  • Reuben, Part 2 The second part of “Reuben” starts with an E7 chord and a strong melody note on the seventh. It’s a short part, only four bars long. Bruce ends by giving you some advice on using dynamics when playing the tune.
  • Reuben, Part 3: Play-Along Track Bruce plays “Reuben” a couple times at a medium (and then a little faster) tempo so you can play along with him.

JUNE APPLE

  • June Apple, Part 1 The fiddle tune “June Apple” is an old-time music standard and, not surprisingly, Wade Ward had a unique way of playing it. It’s in A tuning, the same as G tuning, but tuned up a whole step. Bruce starts by showing you a basic version of the way Wade played the A part, taking it apart phrase by phrase and then playing the whole A part slowly so you can play along.
  • June Apple, Part 2 The second part of “June Apple” includes a flatted seventh chord, G in the key of A. Bruce walks you through the way Wade played the B part phrase by phrase, finishing by playing the whole B part slowly so you can play along.
  • June Apple, Part 3: Play-Along Track Bruce plays “June Apple” a couple times at a medium tempo (and then at a dance tempo) so you can play along with him.

WADE’S LOST INDIAN

  • Wade’s Lost Indian, Part 1 “Wade’s Lost Indian” is in an unusual tuning: F#DADE, which is like double dropped-D tuning with the fifth string tuned down to F#. Bruce plays the whole thing through at a slow tempo and then shows you the A part, phrase by phrase. The A part is also “crooked,” meaning that it isn’t just a straight eight or four bars, but consists of two 4½-measure parts. And while it has only a couple of melodic phrases, they occur in different places in the second half of the A part.
  • Wade’s Lost Indian, Part 2 The B part of “Wade’s Lost Indian” is straighter than the A part, with four regular phrases played in succession. Bruce walks you through the B part phrase by phrase and then plays both parts through at a slow tempo so you can play along.
  • Wade’s Lost Indian, Part 3: Variations In this video, Bruce shows you a few variations on the last phrase of the A part as well as a “reverse double thumb” lick you can use at the ends of the B part phrases. He also talks about playing with an emphasis on the back beat.
  • Wade’s Lost Indian, Part 4: Play-Along Track Use this video to play “Wade’s Lost Indian” a few times with Bruce at a slow tempo (and at full tilt when you’re ready). 

MARRIED MAN’S BLUES

  • Married Man’s Blues, Part 1: Instrumental Wade Ward’s recording of the song “Married Man’s Blues” is one of the first he ever made, recorded in 1925 for OKeh Records. In this lesson you’ll learn how to play “Married Man’s Blues” instrumentally as well as how to backup your singing. Bruce starts by showing you the tuning he sings “Married Man’s Blues” in: an F tuning that is the same as G tuning but tuned down a step. Then he shows you the instrumental version, which is based on a simple bum-ditty strum and includes some nice bluesy slides and drop-thumb licks. He also shows you how to give the song a nice syncopated feel by leaving out the first note in the drop-thumb pattern.
  • Married Man’s Blues, Part 2: Vocal BackupIn this lesson, you’ll learn how to backup your singing on “Married Man’s Blues” by taking a simple bum-ditty strum pattern and adding some of the melody notes as you sing. 

POLLY PUT THE KETTLE ON

  • Polly Put the Kettle On, Part 1 “Polly Put the Kettle On” is a classic old-time dance tune and Wade Ward’s version has some interesting rolls and drop-thumbing. It’s in double-D tuning: aDADE, where the fourth string is D, third string is A, second string is D, first string is E, and fifth string is A. Bruce plays the basic version through and then shows you the first part phrase by phrase.
  • Polly Put the Kettle On, Part 2 In this video, you’ll learn the B part of “Polly Put the Kettle On,” which consists of three four-bar phrases.
  • Polly Put the Kettle On, Part 3: Play-Along Track Use this video to play the basic version of  “Polly Put the Kettle On” with Bruce at a medium tempo.
  •  Polly Put the Kettle On, Part 4: Variations and Embellishments Learn some variations on Wade’s basic version of “Polly Put the Kettle On,” including a couple different ways to play the roll that starts the A part and some syncopated phrases in the B part. 

JOHN LOVER IS GONE

  • John Lover Is Gone, Part 1Wade Ward recorded the square dance tune “John Lover Is Gone” (also called “Johnny Lover’s Gone”) with fiddler Glen Smith. It’s in the key of D and played in double-D tuning: aDADE, where the fourth string is D, third string is A, second string is D, first string is E, and fifth string is A. Bruce plays the whole tune through slowly and then breaks it down phrase by phrase, starting with a roll across the top two strings and a thumb note on the fifth string on the downbeat.
  • John Lover Is Gone, Part 2: Play-Along TrackUse this video to play “John Lover Is Gone” with Bruce at a slow and medium tempo. 

SHADY GROVE

  • Shady Grove, Part 1 Wade Ward’s version of the old-time favorite “Shady Grove” has two parts and some unusual timing. It’s in an A modal tuning: aEADE. Bruce plays it through and then shows you the tuning before breaking down the A part phrase by phrase.
  • Shady Grove, Part 2 You’ll learn the second part of Wade Ward’s “Shady Grove” in this lesson. It starts with a phrase up at the fifth fret which is repeated, and then it ends the same way the A part ends. Bruce walks you through it phrase by phrase. He also talks about accenting the backbeat and varying the timing of the pull-offs that start the tune and the hammer-ons in the middle.
  • Shady Grove, Part 3: Play-Along Track Use this video to play “Shady Grove” with Bruce at a medium tempo. 

SALLY ANN

  • Sally Ann, Part 1 “Sally Ann” is a favorite tune in the Round Peak area of Virginia and in all old-time music circles. There are some different versions of the tune, but Wade Ward plays the standard two-part tune in his own inimitable style. It’s in the key of D and played in double-D tuning: aDADE, where the fourth string is D, third string is A, second string is D, first string is E, and fifth string is A. Bruce plays the whole tune through and then starts breaking the A part down, phrase by phrase.
  • Sally Ann, Part 2 You’ll learn the B part of Wade Ward’s version of “Sally Ann” in this video. It’s a short four-bar part that gets repeated, and it mostly consists of phrases you’ve already learned in the A part. After showing you the B part, Bruce plays the whole thing through and then shows you a few variations that Wade played on the A part. 
  • Sally Ann, Part 3: Play-Along Track Use this video to play “Sally Ann” with Bruce at a medium tempo.

OLD JOE CLARK

  • Old Joe Clark, Part 1 The fiddle tune “Old Joe Clark” is one of the most popular in the fiddling world and there are many versions. Wade Ward’s version is very distinctive and is illustrative of how “Old Joe Clark” is played in the Round Peak area of Virginia, with, for example, an E chord in the B part instead of the G chord that is used in most other versions. “Old Joe Clark” is played in the key of A, and Bruce tunes his banjo up to A tuning (aEAC#E), which is the same as G tuning, but tuned up a whole step. After playing the whole tune through, Bruce slowly breaks down the A part, which includes reverse double thumbs, rolls, and a cool sliding double stop. 
  • Old Joe Clark, Part 2 The B part of Wade Ward’s “Old Joe Clark” starts with one of Wade’s signature pull-off licks and includes some of the same melodic material as the A part. 
  • Old Joe Clark, Part 3: Play-Along Track Bruce plays “Old Joe Clark” at a medium tempo so you can play along with him. Then he speeds up and plays “Old Joe Clark” at its usual tempo. 

CLUCK OLD HEN

  • Cluck Old Hen, Part 1 Like so many of Wade Ward’s versions of standard tunes, Wade approaches it a little differently than what has become standard. Bruce plays the whole tune through and then takes it apart phrase by phrase, starting with the A part, which is just four measures long.
  • Cluck Old Hen, Part 2 Many of the common versions of “Cluck Old Hen” use a G chord (the bVII in the key of A) in the B part. But Wade, like many musicians in his part of Virginia, plays an E chord instead of G. Bruce walks you through Wade’s B part phrase by phrase. He ends by showing where to put accents to give the tune a nice rhythmic pulse.
  • Cluck Old Hen, Part 3: Play-Along Track Bruce plays “Cluck Old Hen” at a medium tempo so you can play along with him. Then he speeds up and plays “Cluck Old Hen” at its usual tempo.

 


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