Some of the Easiest Banjo Songs You Can Learn

Everyone knows that once you've learned a tune, you're well on your way to bettering your skill with all instruments. The same is true with practice – it's essential to devote time to it because practice will always make perfect, and practicing allows you to become much more comfortable with your musical instrument. 

But if you have decided to focus on learning to play the banjo, it’s one of the most satisfying string instruments to learn – some would say even better (and we dare say easier!) than the guitar. And if you love country or folk music, you definitely wouldn’t regret your choice. But the beautiful thing about the banjo is that it’s an instrument that’s also pretty spectacular with rock music and even pop, which certainly adds to its appeal.

Some of the Easiest Banjo Songs You Can Learn

If you're determined to improve your skills in playing the banjo, there are some easy songs you can try learning from the beginning. Once you know some of these songs, you can readily say that you're on the right path. Here, then, are some of the most straightforward banjo songs you can learn today.


  • Easiest Banjo Songs You Can Learn
      • Cripple Creek
      • She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain 
      • Ring of Fire 
      • Ground Speed
      • Cotton Eyed Joe
      • Wagon Wheel
  • Conclusion

Easiest Banjo Songs You Can Learn

1. Cripple Creek

Cripple Creek is a quintessential banjo classic, and it was first introduced to the global audience by banjo masters Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs way back in the 1950s (1957, to be exact). The song was part of their Foggy Mountain Jamboree album, and it cemented their reputation among American listeners and made bluegrass a household name. 

Once you listen closely to it, you can hear the fantastic (and iconic) three-finger roll technique popularized by Earl Scruggs while he plays away in his five-string banjo. Of course, you may also hear other musical instruments in the tune, such as the fiddle, but the banjo is the sure winner that creates that unmistakable country rhythm. The song may sound pretty technical and fast-paced, but you should also remember that the tune comprises A, E, and D chords, which makes it relatively easy to learn and master.

2. She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain 

Another classic song is She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain, and even those who aren't too familiar with folk melodies will know and be familiar with this tune. It's a popular song for kids, after all – but did you know that it's reputed to come from a Christian song entitled When the Chariot Comes, which first became popular in 1899? At the time, it was featured in a songbook entitled Old Plantation Hymns, and it's also said that workers on the railroad adapted it to the tune with which we are all familiar today. 

The first official recording of the song was by Henry Whitter, released in 1924. In this recording, you can hear Henry Whitter strumming along with his guitar while a fiddler played alongside his instrument. But with this, you can use a tenor banjo, which would sound perfect with the other instruments. It has a steady tempo, but you would have to learn some advanced D and A 7TH chords if you would like to perfect the tune.

RelatedTop 10 Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker For Car

3. Ring of Fire 

Ring of Fire is another standard folk and country melody, and it was Merle Kilgore and June Carter Cash who wrote it. As you may already know, it was made famous in 1963 by none other than Johnny Cash. His version of the song became a memorable hit in the US, topping the charts and making it to fourth place in the list of the 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music (2003) and ranking 27th in the 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time in Rolling Stone magazine.

The Cash version recorded the song using the G key, making it an easy melody to play if you have a five-string or tenor banjo. What's even more remarkable about this song is that it has simple verses with strumming in the G chord and with the chorus using C, G, and D chords for the melody. It may have a faster tempo compared to other songs on this list, but it's not a problem to get used to it if you do it gradually.

4. Ground Speed

Ground Speed always makes it to the list of easy banjo songs to play even as a beginner, and it features the immense skill and talent of the aforementioned Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. They included it in an album called Foggy Mountain Banjo, released in the early 1960s. If you've noticed, when it comes to composers such as Earl Scruggs, the melody and rhythm sections of the banjo use plenty of three-finger picking styles, and this is accompanied by a fast tempo. 

Therefore, with this song, you would have to utilize picks for your thumb aside from your middle and index fingers so you can effectively pluck the banjo's strings. But the good news is that they play this song in the G key, which doesn't make it too complicated when it comes to the placement of chords or tuning. The song also works very well if you have a five-string banjo since these have additional 5th drone strings and a twangy sound characteristic of country music.

RelatedTop 10 Best Battery for Car Audio System

5. Cotton Eyed Joe

Most everyone who loves country music is familiar with Cotton Eyed Joe, and it's a fun, lively tune for many occasions. The southeast portion of the country is most associated with the song. Many people believe that it was written even before the Civil War when slaves reportedly sang it in plantations in Texas. 

Some would even go so far as to say that the song is the national anthem of Southern Texas. But the phrase 'cotton eye' may also have a darker connotation, as it is also the term for people who were blinded because of drinking too much moonshine or wood alcohol. 

All things aside, the song was popularized by masters like the Moody Brothers and Bill Monroe, and even the Rednex band from Sweden had a go at it. In fact, many of the more experienced banjo players would have already perfected it. Most of the song’s versions are in the key of A major, although it also utilizes other phrases and melodies. But the song will work wonderfully if you have a five-string banjo accompanied by that distinctive Scruggs picking style for a complete country sound and feel.

6. Wagon Wheel 

Like the other songs on this list, the history of Wagon Wheel is fascinating, and Bob Dylan recorded its chorus in the early 1970s. The song's verses were composed by Ketch Secor (from the Old Medicine Show) after 25 years. They officially released the actual tune in 2003, and it quickly became another country hit. If you listen closely to the lyrics, it tells the story of a hitchhiker who travels across the country to be reunited with his lover in North Carolina. 

When Bob Dylan first recorded the tune, he used an acoustic guitar, and if you have a four-string banjo, it's the best choice for this song. You can play the song with a steady 2/4 signature using the A major key, and you have four banjo chords that form the riff. But you can also use other patterns for the chords depending on your preferred singing key.


There are indeed plenty of other easy banjo songs you could learn, from Dirty Old Town to Brown Eyed Girl to Amazing Grace, Man of Constant Sorrow, and more. You can even watch video tutorials online to get the best feel for the songs and see how other talented banjo players do it. 

Once you’ve mastered a few, it will give you a good sense of accomplishment – and since practice makes perfect, all you have to do is practice as often as you can. The results will come in no time.

Previous Post Next Post