Bill Cunningham’s Banjo Tab

Dear Old Dad and I once ran a CD ROM video music magazine called The Down Neck Gazette.

A long time ago – before I even thought about writing my first book – I was lucky enough to meet folklorist + banjo hero + inventor + war hero Stu Jamieson.

I learned quite a bit from Stu. He even gave me instructions on how he built Pete Seeger’s banjo bridge.

When Dear Old Dad and I started our CD ROM music magazine, The Down Neck Gazette, Stu suggested we interview a musician he regarded as a master of the banjo and the fiddle, Bill Cunningham.

So we loaded up our cameras and drove to Asheville to visit Bill.

One of the cool things we discovered visiting with Bill was his typewriter tab system.

Bill was writing music books long before the days of computers and word processers, so he came up with a simple way to write tab on a typewriter.

The string is a regular number.

The fret is superscript.

Strum-thumb patterns are written as ST.

Simple? Yes.
Brillian? Yes!

Here is the A part for Old Joe Clark:

112 13 1

121 20 ST

112 13 1

10 ST 10 ST

112 13 1

121 20 ST

3 ST  32 43

30 ST 30 ST

This is a great way to share licks if you don’t want to use a confusing tab program.

I never had the chance to interview Stu on camera, but we did film an interview with Bill.

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