I'm looking Wildwood Flower in Wayne Erbsen's Clawhammer Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus.

On line one, he specifies that the G in the first line be played with the thumb on the 5th string. This is what the tablature looks like from the book:

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Why not play that melody note on the 1st string (at the 5th fret)?

  • I should note that it does sound better this way when I play it, but I'm a beginner and I would assume that has more to do with my technique.
    – jmilloy
    Aug 25, 2015 at 20:21

1 Answer 1


The open 5th string sounds better because it can ring out while you play the next notes. That string acts as a drone (note that the piece is in G major). If you played that note on the 5th fret of the 1st string, the note would end immediately because the next note would be on the same string. Also note that if you played that G on the 1st string, your left hand would need to move much more than if you play the melody as suggested.

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