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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: fat finger problem


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jackbro9 - Posted - 02/01/2010:  08:27:30


hello,im an absolute beginner at this banjo game never played a stringed instrument in my life(40 odd yrs),but thought id love to give it ago as i love to hear banjos played especially bluegrass,so 3 days into it bout 4 hrs all in all i can do fwd and reverse roll not brilliant but im doing it soon as i let left hand on a string i get the string i want plus the two either side of it well seem to slightly catch them,is this a practice thing or my technique, limited as it is,only instruction im gettin is from you tube and what i find on other sites...i know it sounds a stupid query but are other beginners havin same probs

richardsdrr - Posted - 02/01/2010:  08:45:38


Hi, I had the same problem, but I don't think it's to do with fat fingers, it's more to do with technique. It took me ages to get my fretting fingers to plant onto the strings with out touching the others but eventually it comes. If you think of your fretting fingers as seperate from your hand, and make sure you are landing them directly on the string, if you keep on playing and still make the same mistakes then keep going 'cos your own musical ear will adjust your finger positions gradually in order that it sounds better. Another good idea is to make sure your left hand is in a good position, use the classsical guitar hold (i.e. thumb planted in the middle of the neck at the back) this will allow you to reach around further and be able to plant your fingers down more perpendicular to the fret board. This is a better grip to practice when first starting out as opposed to the baseball bat hold (i.e. when your left hand holds the neck like a baseball bat).
I don't know if this is any use to you, I'm only a newb myself, hope i've made some sense.

jackbro9 - Posted - 02/01/2010:  09:12:55


ye thanks for that will give it ago,cheers

Sourdough Pickens - Posted - 02/01/2010:  09:53:21


I have thicker fingers too. You will probably find that once you build up callouses on the tips of your fingers, it will help a little too.

GHohwald - Posted - 02/01/2010:  10:06:28


Gold Tone makes at least 1 model of banjo that has an extra wide neck specifically for people with big hands. The other thing you can do is have a repair man widen the string spacing at the nut and at the bridge. You will probably have to call Gold Tone directly to find out about the banjos. Talk to Wayne Rogers the owner.quote]Originally posted by jackbro9

hello,im an absolute beginner at this banjo game never played a stringed instrument in my life(40 odd yrs),but thought id love to give it ago as i love to hear banjos played especially bluegrass,so 3 days into it bout 4 hrs all in all i can do fwd and reverse roll not brilliant but im doing it soon as i let left hand on a string i get the string i want plus the two either side of it well seem to slightly catch them,is this a practice thing or my technique, limited as it is,only instruction im gettin is from you tube and what i find on other sites...i know it sounds a stupid query but are other beginners havin same probs
[/quote]

teebee - Posted - 02/01/2010:  10:38:55


Rather than buy a new something, why not just capo up a couple frets for the added width. You can detune a couple frets and capo at the second fret putting you back in your standard tuning. It will help you decide whether you really need a new neck or need to just wait until the finger pads harden up. Works on guitars also. Have fun.

xnavyguy - Posted - 02/01/2010:  11:18:58


I have the same problem and neither experience nor callouses have helped. Because of that, where possible, I have made new nuts for my banjos and set the string spacing as wide as I possibly can, just inside the ends of the frets. This has made it sooo much easier for me to fret notes without muting adjacent strings. This photo shows the difference in spacing I was able to get on one of my banjos:

Smore45 - Posted - 02/01/2010:  12:08:01


I am having problems touching adjacent strings too ( I don't have the fat finger problem though). I had always assumed that all banjos had the same string spacing. Interesting thought of adjusting spacing. I have an old Harmony (35+ yrs old). The strings are 3/8" apart at the bridge and about 5/16" at the 5th fret. Is this about typical?

KANINJACK - Posted - 02/01/2010:  12:19:19


I initially though it was because of my fingers as well, or the banjo strings were too close together. We time and practice it worked itself out once I got used to the neck and fretting in general.

BryanWB - Posted - 02/01/2010:  13:21:34


I'm only a novice, but just a few things might help.
Keep fingernails REALLY short. This will also help with the build-up of callouses on finger-tips.
Keep fingers PARALLEL with the frets - fingers, even if they're fat, are normally wider side to side, so coming at an angle doesn't help.
Come down at right-angles to the fret-board.
Perhaps obvious to everyone, I don't know, but just trying to help.
Naturally all the previous comments apply.
Bryan.

teebee - Posted - 02/01/2010:  13:55:46


My custom banjo, just received, is about 5/16" at the nut and a hair wider at the 5th fret. My old Harmony plastic banjo was a narrow 7/8ths [14/16ths] at the nut. The new one is 15/16ths. Man that Harmony was skinny, but it sounded good.

Spreading the nut slots just the thickness of a string feels like a lot. Then, you can get the 1st string too close to the edge . The spacing between the 4th and 5th string will change at the 5th fret, but isn't a problem if your not fretting the 5th string.

For me, I first tried the capo and then I made a new nut, then I got a new banjo. Now I don't know what to blame it on. Stu............ maybe!

teebee - Posted - 02/01/2010:  14:01:00


xnavyguy, your picture pretty well explains it!

xnavyguy - Posted - 02/01/2010:  14:41:17


quote:
Originally posted by teebee

xnavyguy, your picture pretty well explains it!



Yeah, but you're definitely right about being careful of not getting the strings so wide that the 1st string doesn't fret properly or you pull it off the fretboard when playing. I had one banjo that had a pretty flat bevel on the frets and I had to dress the frets down to get them wider so I could use the wider spacing at the nut.

You are also right about the wider spacing putting the 4th string closer to the 5th string. For me, it's easier to adjust my playing for the closeness of the 4th and 5th string than to try to nail my fretting, dead on, when I am playing something fast and moving around on the neck.

jackbro9 - Posted - 02/02/2010:  10:21:48


thanks to all who replied,atleast i kno i can probably get over this problem(first of many no doubt) with practice,cheers

japus - Posted - 02/02/2010:  21:03:03


just keep playing and practicing, I have a friend that has bear paws, and you should hear him on a mandolin.plays banjo, guitar, and mandolin not toworry

Tim13 - Posted - 02/03/2010:  05:00:11


I too had the "fat finger" concern. Turns out it was just poor beginner technique. The more I play, the more my ear is adjusting my fretting to lessen those sour notes.

Tim

thetexan - Posted - 02/03/2010:  09:04:59


Hi Jackbro, Welcome to the worlds formost banjo forum!

Since you are just starting out we have the opportunity to save you from some typical learning mistakes which is important since 'unlearning' these problems are difficult.

You need to realize that any mechanical actionyou try to do such as a roll or a roll with left hand action, consists of many sub-actions each of which can be done correctly or incorrectly. When you start doing something that is made up of many sub-actions mistakes in one or more of these can compound each other so that the difficulty seems enormous. It is such with rolls, left hand licks, anything.

As to rolls. Take your left hand and put it in your pocket. You dont need it right now.
The fat finger problem is just a precision problem that is easy to fix, but not if your brain is still dealing with right hand issues, so lets be sure youre good on the right hand.

A roll consists of proper finger positioning, proper hand and palm positioning, string attack, strength of attack, whether you plant the pinky or ring and pinky, not to mention simply hitting the right string with the right finger. Each of these, and there are more, are sub-actions of right hand roll technique and each of which can be done well or incorrectly.

Start with this, try to find a comfortable hand position where your fingers strike the strings at as close to perpendicular as reasonably possible. Then play deliberately softly. The stronger you hit the strings the more you have to be in control of the fingers to prevent flailing. So play softly but deliberately. Be precise, take short strokes and work to achieve clear, clean notes.

Do this for each roll that you work on. Do this 2000 times or more and never use your left hand other than to support the neck. You will tackle left hand work later.

Be sure to pick slowly enough to do it correctly. Always stop and re-analyze when you notice error. DO NOT PRACTICE ERROR.

DO NOT PRACTICE ERROR ! ! !

Throughout your banjo training you are training your muscle memory and your muscle memory doesnt care if you teach it to do it right or wrong. It will learn what you teach it. If you teach it incorrectly you will forever regret it and have a very difficult time reteaching it correctly.

Learning banjo is a step by step process, as is all learning, and you need to tackle it that way, doing one thing at a time and building on what you have learned. Please feel free to come to the Hangout to get great advise at any point along the way. There is no telling how many thousands of man-years of great banjo experience is just a keystroke away!

tex


Edited by - thetexan on 02/03/2010 09:24:17

jackbro9 - Posted - 02/03/2010:  10:24:22


thanks for advice, all interesting and helpful.cheers

BryanWB - Posted - 02/03/2010:  13:41:24


And Tex, loads of interesting stuff for a novice like me too. Thanks. Bryan.

5th string nut - Posted - 02/03/2010:  14:32:05


If I could see how you are fretting the strings with your left hand fingers, I would be able to teach you exactly what to do differently in order to solve the problem you have described. If you have access to high-speed internet and a web cam, and might be interested in a free, face-to-face, online lesson, please feel free to contact me at fifthstringnut@yahoo.com

Happy Pickin',

Jason



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