If you’re looking for banjitar songs to learn in 2021, this post is for you!
I’ve compiled a list of 10 great banjitar songs to learn on the instrument this year.
Although not always easy, I’ve tried to find songs originally written and performed on the six-string banjo.
Of course, you can also find some great banjitar covers on YouTube by searching your favorite song titles plus “banjitar cover.”
But songs originally written on the banjitar are fun to learn especially when you’re just starting out with this instrument.
I’m no banjitar expert, but I’ve owned Goldtone’s Six String Banjo since 2019 and have a had a lot of fun with it.
1. “Mean” by Taylor Swift
The banjitar combines the versatility of the guitar with the country twang of a banjo.
With that in mind, why not take the instrument and learn some great country songs?
Taylor Swift is one of the biggest country artists in the world right now.
Whether on the banjo or on the guitar, her songs are great to strum along to and sing!
The composition of this song uses simple open chords.
As a result, songs like this are great practice for studying rhythm structure and switching between chords.
Once you’re good enough, the openness in structure of this song leaves plenty of room for you to practice some scales and lead playing!
2. “Somebody Like You” by Keith Urban
Keith Urban is another country artist in addition to being a phenomenal guitar player.
He plays the guitar in a very melodic way, incorporating scales and lead playing into his rhythm.
By using his play style as a model, his music is a great way to become more comfortable with scales in addition to chords.
Taking his song “Somebody Like You” for example, the song starts with a great introductory guitar riff.
Interestingly, the song goes on to use that same riff over the chords of the song itself, rather than playing the chords directly.
As a result, it might be a little tricky to stick to the rhythm of the song while singing.
Though it can be difficult, it makes for excellent practice of rhythm and coordination.
The song goes on to use traditional open chords in the chorus, another example of a song great for strumming along and singing.
3. “Creepin'” by Eric Church
Creepin by Eric Church is another great example of plucking chords melodically rather than strumming them.
What’s great about a banjitar is that a player can do both — pluck and strum.
On a regular banjo, the playing style mostly consists of fingerpicking.
That said, the banjitar adding in the “guitar” aspect to the instrument brings in that great ability to strum.
Just like in the Keith Urban example, Eric Church tends to pluck the chords in the verses while strumming in the chorus.
This playing (and country playing in general) is a great way to practice alternating between lead and rhythm playing.
4. “Simple Gifts” by Harvey Reid
If you read my article on capos, you know that Harvey Read is the expert on partial capos.
But did you know that he’s an accomplished banjitar player too?
Check out this awesome rendition of Simple Gifts that he plays on the six-string banjo/banjitar!
Of course, unlike many of the other songs on this list, Simple Gifts wasn’t originally written on the banjitar.
That said, I felt like this pretty rendition deserved a spot on this list.
This song beautifully uses both rhythm and lead playing.
As such, it is an excellent way to help you learn scales and lead playing while alternating between chords at the same time.
In this song, Harvey is using his thumb to pluck the bass strings which are the notes of the chords of the song.
The chords themselves seem to be simply D and A, while the song is written in the key of D Major.
While playing the lead melody, the alternate bass plucking acts as a bass player droning the chord of the song under the melody.
This might take some practice, but it is an excellent way to diversify your playing!
5. “Devil’s Dream” by Reverend Gary Davis
This song is a beautiful example of classic country picking that could be played on a traditional banjo.
Rather than strumming any chords at all, the song implies the chord changes based on what scale and notes are being played.
This is very similar to the way guitarists like Stevie Ray Vaughan played — the chords and rhythm are implied in the lead.
It also makes for beautiful and fun playing.
Songs like this work as a solo (as this player does) and also in a group.
You can take this player and put a band around him — a good band will simply follow what he is doing, and he would not need to change his playing at all!
Songs like this are tricky to play since there is no accompaniment, you’ve got to know on your own exactly where you are rhythm-wise.
You’ve also got to know exactly when, based on your rhythm and beat count, each chord starts and stops in the progression.
On top of all of that, certain licks that are in this song are rhythmically tricky, like the introductory one.
This song is another excellent study of scales, the way they flow and connect together on the guitar, and of your own timing count.
It is very easy to get lost in the progression and stay on a chord for too long or too short. Try using a metronome to practice!
6. “Merry Go ‘Round” by Kacey Musgraves
This pretty song by the beautiful Kacey Musgraves is an excellent way to study lead and rhythm playing together.
If you look at her hands in this video, Kacey captures what a banjitar is all about: the plucking-style of a banjo with the chord-style of a guitar.
Notice what she is doing: playing the chords of the song with her hands but plucking different strings rather than strumming them all together.
This is essentially what an arpeggio is.
Chords that are broken up into one or two notes at a time is called an arpeggio.
Obviously, this contrasts how chords are traditionally played: strummed all at once.
It also makes for a very beautiful and non-traditional sound (if you play the notes out of order).
With this practice down, try and notice the way certain notes belong to a number of different chords.
Whether on the guitar or banjitar (or any other stringed instrument) this is a great way to begin to explore lead playing.
Breaking up the rhythm and examining it is a fantastic way to look at the way notes flow and connect.
7. “Captain Kennedy” by Neil Young
In the beginning of this cover of the great Neil Young, the player is using the pentatonic scale to play some lead.
This is a scale typically used in blues and rock music on the guitar and sometimes the piano.
While the player incorporates some of his own lead in the video, he goes on to strum the chords as he sings.
The song is composed of three chords: B Minor, D Major, and E Major.
The scale the player uses to play his lead is B Minor Pentatonic.
Songs like this are a great way to study rhythm. Three chords leave plenty of room to follow along.
If you notice, this player too is alternating plucking with his thumb as he strums the chords.
He is bouncing the bass line with the bass note of the chord.
Between that and the lead pattern at the beginning, this song makes for a great lesson on the banjitar.
Using both rhythm and expanding the lead playing.
8. “Moonshiner” by Jalan Crossland
In the beginning of this video, Jalan Crossland taps on the banjitar and plays it almost percussively.
The sound of this song has a very rich, deep, and old rustic southern sound to it.
Not to mention Crossland’s soulful voice!
Once he starts to sing, he begins to play the melody he is singing on the banjitar at the same time.
In this way, your playing will start to become more musical and vocal.
If you are familiar enough with scales, try and hum or sing along to what you play — it is a great way to practice!
The song goes on to use a traditional old-style call and response technique which is used a lot in blues music.
This is when the singer sings a line, followed by a musical answer with a lick — typically a guitar.
On top of all of that, the playing takes a rhythmic turn as the song continues.
This is just what I mentioned before: knowing exactly where in the progression you are, and how long to stay there.
Around the 3:40 minute mark, Jalan Crossland goes on to play a full solo on the banjitar while playing the rhythm at the same time.
This takes a lot of coordination, and a lot of practice.
Of course, stomping his foot percussively to keep time certainly helps!
This song is an example of total virtuosity on the banjitar — the player knows exactly what he is doing and where he is going.
9. “Mandolin Wind” by Rod Stewart
Two legends playing together: Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood.
In addition to having arguably one of the greatest voices in rock history, Rod Steward writes beautiful songs.
In this song, Rod is simply strumming the chords of this song.
That said, the sound of the song fills out with the rest of the band, the mandolin player, (another beautiful instrument) and Ronnie Wood playing the 12-string guitar.
In this song, Rod Stewart is sticking to the guitar aspect of the bajitar by strumming the chords.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good song to learn and to practice.
Rod incorporates the extensions of the chords he is playing in order to build on the sound.
What that means is that one note within a chord is taken and played in a different range, often with the pinky.
This gives a more diverse voicing and makes the chord sound different than normal.
For example, playing a D Major chord but the high F# (the third of D Major) would be played in a different range.
As I’ve mentioned, playing chords and exploring voicings this way is an excellent way to get more familiar with the neck of the guitar.
10. “Dueling Banjos” from the Movie “Deliverance”
This is another example of a song that wasn’t written on the banjitar.
That said, I felt like it deserved to be on this list!
The scene “duelling banjos” from the movie Deliverance is an iconic battle between banjo and guitar.
In the scene, a guitarist and a banjo player go head to head playing a song back and fourth and trading solos.
While one plays lead, the other plays rhythm, and vice versa.
The song (and the scene) have become something of an icon among guitarists and banjo players.
With the banjitar, a whole lot of practice, and developing the skill to play rhythm and lead together, you may be able to learn to play both parts on the banjitar.
This is how Marty starts his video above, playing both parts of dueling banjos on his banjitar.
Banjitar Songs Conclusion
I’ve tried to capture some great examples of songs originally written on the banjitar.
However, I know there must be more out there.
If you know of songs originally written on the banjitar, would you let me know in the comments?
I’d love to include them in this post and have this be a comprehensive resource for songs on the six-string banjo, banjitar, guitarjo, ganjo, or whatever you call it!