Bluegrass Banjo Timing Lesson with Ryan Cavanaugh

4 comments Jan 14, 2021

This is our 1st lesson of our new series of intermediate/advanced 5-string banjo lessons with Ryan Cavanaugh. In this lesson Ryan discusses and demonstrates exercises to help improve your timing when playing bluegrass banjo.

Be sure to write in the comments below any questions you would like Ryan to answer or any ideas for future lessons. Enjoy!


  • Rick Lawrence January 26, 2021 at 8:57 pm

    First rule of banjo fight club is to be in tune. The second rule of banjo fight club is to stay in time. Then it’s just biscuits and gravy.

  • Helen Bowyer January 20, 2021 at 12:12 am

    Thank you Ryan and Deering for this great insight into banjo timing.

    I am so glad you addressed the timing while using a metronome and with examples while playing. I have only played banjo for 1 year, but have a music background in other instruments. The timing you demonstrated seems to come easy when I first started playing along to the metronome; but later over thought it all and couldn’t get it back. Then I was advised always to keep practising rolls evenly and directly on the beat if I want to play ‘clean’ Bluegrass. I am not sure how true this is? Also, beside playing rolls to a swing feel, are there other timing / syncopation / feels I could use while playing songs with a roll?

    Kindest Regards,

  • Max Winkels January 20, 2021 at 12:11 am

    It is great to see you teaching and sharing your insights, Ryan. I’d love to hear your thoughts and see your approach to developing solos in the Bluegrass context. Maybe you could do the same for your jazz playing some time too.

  • Rick Kennedy January 20, 2021 at 12:11 am


    As you well know timing is the banjo. One lick can sound very different depending on how you time it.
    Great show. A lesson for anyone anytime and Ryan knows his stuff.
    Have you ever thought about putting together your own lesson/show?

    Have a good one

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