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Gypsy Jazz on Banjo?

Banjo DjangoBanjo Django HawaiiNew
edited May 2009 in Gypsy Jazz 101 Posts: 3
I was wondering if anyone can help me begin. I want to play Gypsy Jazz, but I couldn't take the easy way. No I want to adapt the style to Banjo. I play 4 string plectrum, 4 string tenor and 5 string Bluegrass and Clawhammer styles.
My goal is to adapt the rythm to 4 string jazz banjo.
What would be the base level book for me to begin learning this wonderful style?
It doesn't have to be hard, but you do have to be dedicated


  • Posts: 597
    Listen to some GJ guitarists to get a feel for the rhythmic pulse of la pompe. Most of the tunes are hot jazz/swing/Great American Songbook and a handful of gypsy jazz tunes written by Django.

    This site will get you started on some of the more common tunes ...

    Here are some playalongs so that you can play with a rhythm guitarist and get the feel ...

    Also check out youtube for a ton of GJ/manouche swing listening.

    And here are a bunch of charts (grilles) ...

    Cool idea!
  • DedwoodDedwood Springfield, ILNew
    Posts: 32
    You may also want to seek out the book "New Acoustic Banjo Solos" by Greg Davis. It was put out by Musician's Workshop ( in Austin, Texas. The book contains 5-string banjo head arrangements (in TAB only) for Minor Swing, Swing '42, and Belleville. Other songs featured are Manzanita, EMD, Sweet Georgia Brown, Ain't Misbehavin', Backwaters, Shine, and Wave.

    Their contact info listed on book (circa 2001):
    Musician's Workshop
    PO Box 161921
    Austin, Texas 78716
  • AJATangoAJATango New
    Posts: 110
    not that much of a stretch... tons of tenor banjo all over hot jazz of the 20s/30s.
  • Matthias LenzMatthias Lenz Lucklum, GermanyNew
    Posts: 101
    Hey Banjo Django !

    Great idea, I like that a lot. Since you say you can´t take the easy way I would recommend learning most about the plectrum technique in general, which in my opinion would include this site´s most popular book "Gypsy Picking" by the very person who provides the forum we´re posting on right here. It´s not expensive and provides a very in-depth look at the picking technique that you wouldn´t wanna miss, no matter which acoustic string instrument you play with a plectrum.

    For rhythm (guitar), there´s a lot of stuff out there. A lot of posts on this forum (search "la pompe") give you a great bunch of hints, and you´ll quickly notice who are the experts ;-)

    Good Luck !
  • Banjo DjangoBanjo Django HawaiiNew
    Posts: 3
    Thanks to everyone who has replied I appreciate everyone's help.
    It doesn't have to be hard, but you do have to be dedicated
  • odnamodnam New
    Posts: 2
    Nice. Thanks, Stackabones, for the links. Especially the backing tracks. SWEEEEET!! I play the tenor banjo and the mandolin as well as the guitar. Django Banjo-check out the Bickford Mandolin Method that is here in pdf form on this site. It is from 1920 and has a lot of wonderful stuff about the right hand. Remember that the C tuning for the tenor banjo is tuned in fifths just like the mandolin and the violin. So it is the same tuning, just a fifth lower. In fact, Irish banjo players tune to GDAE an octave lower than the mandolin and the banjo player often switches back and forth and never has to learn different notes, just different approaches to suit the instrument at hand (or in hand). Cheers.
  • Posts: 597
    odnam wrote:
    Nice. Thanks, Stackabones, for the links.

    You're welcome.

    Hey, you're new --welcome aboard! :D
  • fraterfrater Prodigy
    Posts: 763
    Olivier Kikteff (easily one of the best guitarists around, really, really underrated) does that a lot. You should definitely listen to him! ... 9526690078
  • odnamodnam New
    Posts: 2
    Thanks. Glad to be here. There are some Tenor banjo pdf's on this site too!
  • gumby705gumby705 Mount Dora, Florida✭✭
    edited May 2009 Posts: 25
    I know you want to Django on a 4 or 5 string banjo but why not a 6 string banjo tuned like a guitar?
    Late/great acoustic jazz guitar player Danny Barker used to switch over to a six string banjo all the time. Though he was not a Gypsy Jazz guitar player, he transfered many of the same jazz guitar rhythms easily to the 6 string banjo.
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