Page Five

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The Don Reno Banjo Workshop

By Jason Skinner



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Ok lets move on to another key.  We’ll work out of the key of “G” this time.  Let’s walk up from the “F” position “G” to the “D” position “G” chord.  Then we’ll walk back down again.  We’ll be on the 1st and 3rd string this time.  Again transpose this to any key.

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The same thing can be done on the 2nd and 4th strings from the “G” chord starting at the 9th fret using the “D” chord position.  The same techniques we used in the key “D” apply to the key of “G” using those same positions.


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"Dixie Breakdown"


This walk down will be full chords instead of partial ones.  The chord positions are very simple, it’s the roll that’s tough.  Basically Don is walking from a barred position to a “D” chord position.  We’ll be using this to walk to go through the G, C, and D chord changes of the song.  Reno used these rolls and positions a lot.  “Banjo Special” is based on these positions and is one of Don’s toughest tunes.


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Click here for direct link to sound file


Click here for direct link to sound file


Descending “D” lick

This lick is probably one of Don most “infamous” licks.  He used this on almost all of his recordings from the 60’s until his death.  It is one of my favorites.  Basically it is comprised of some of the same type two string walk downs we have discussed.  We’ll be moving from the “F” position D chord to the “D7th “chord out of the barred position.  As usual you can transfer it any where.  Well moving from one position to the other Don threw in a little single string for a unique sound.  Again I believe this originally was a guitar lick because I have many electric guitar players use it.  Or maybe they got it from Don!  We’ll never know!


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Here is an example of the above lick played at various positions on the neck, followed by a tag lick and ending. Listen carefully to the recording and see if you can work out the various positions. Find the start note of each phrase

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Well that’s it for now.  I hope this workshop will help you understand a little more about Reno style picking.  Hopefully it will give you an extra edge on learning all those great tunes Don recorded.  These exercises should give some basic understanding of your neck as well.  Play around with as many keys as possible.  You will be playing without a capo before you know it!  If you have any other things you would like me to add or something you need help with please email me.  I will be glad to help you.  Thanks for stopping by and happy picking!




Jason & Family (The skinner Band)



Here are some of Jason's own recordings of Reno Songs

Click to play

"Five By Eight" [mp3 1,617kb]

"I Know You're married " [mp3 2,127kb]

"Limehouse Blues" [mp3 2,242kb]

"Love Please Come Home" [mp3 2,310kb]

"Remington Ride" [mp3 2,261kb]

"Talk Of The Town" [mp3 2,592kb]

[Right click/'Save target as' to download]




To expand the workshop Jason has created another section where he talks about some of Don's famous songs and instrumentals. He offers insight into what Don was doing and gives Hints & Tips about the tunings and techniques etc, used in the various tunes. The link to the Hints page can be found at the bottom of this page


Click icon above to download all the  tabs in Tabledit format in a single zip file


Click icon above to download all the  tabs in ASCII text format in a single zip file


I would like to thank my friend Jason for creating this great Reno workshop. As far as I know there are virtually no Reno style resources like this on the web. I hope that this offering will be appreciated by all you Don Reno fans and I'm glad that Jason and I have teamed up to present this workshop. As well as providing you with some insight into Don's picking techniques  I hope this will ultimately help give Don some credit for his innovative style and his sheer genius..... A true wizard of the 5 string banjo! Good luck with your Reno Ride.


(webpage author)




This Reno section of Banjo Hollow will always be a work in progress. If you would like to contribute anything to this page then please contact me. I am looking for anything that is Reno style related. Feel free to submit tabs, sound files, pics, stories, info etc. I will publish anything I consider will enhance this Reno resource space permitting and give proper credit to those submitting appropriate content. Send me an e-mail if you have anything to contribute.



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Hints & Tips Page


If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please contact Jason directly at


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