Martin Tallstrom Picks Foggy Mountain Breakdown

When I first heard Earl Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Breakdown, I just had to get a banjo. That was one of the first songs I learned… and after a while I had it down pretty good. But after a few years of playing banjo, I decided to put it down- just seemed like it was getting in the way of my acoustic guitar playing. .. Well, I guess that was a good decision as I’m still going strong on guitar. But when I heard Martin Tallstrom with his Dueling Banjos, Jesse James and now Foggy Mountain Breakdown on the guitar with the 3 fingered banjo technique I thought, wow, why didn’t I think of that?

Martin does a few things tuning wise to make this work. He say”s he tunes down his low A string to a G. Here’s what he says:

“I use a drop-G tuning, (don´t know if it has a name(?), only the A string is retuned down to a G) because then you have the root notes of the three chords used, G major, E minor and D major, as open “bass” strings. Of course it doesn´t have to be played at such high tempo (but it should be!) – it´s a bit of a struggle (this is like the 100th take 🙂 I´ve also noticed this style seems to require some nail on the right hand, otherwise the overall sound may become a bit “blurred”. This is just an idea and it could be developed further, with more solo parts etc.”

Martin’s tab is avalable at TAB available at

As far as his playing, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone three fingered roll pick Foggy Mountain Breakdown on the guitar, let alone do it this well.

Special thanks to Walt Birdwell for locating this video.


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