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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Irish Tenor fingerstyle?

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bluegrassman2.0 - Posted - 09/21/2008:  19:41:05

Here is someone doing it.
Is there a method? If so, what?

-BG Man

Edited by - bluegrassman2.0 on 09/24/2008 15:11:28

Tom Hanway - Posted - 09/21/2008:  20:42:25

Yeah, BG Man, there is a method, and I know one of the masters, Mirek Patek, from the Czech Republic, and I can honestly tell you that he can pick. He's got tons of tunes, tunings, and is a disciplined scholar and seminal player in this nascent tradition. Mirek can play!

Happy pickin,


Bill Rogers - Posted - 09/21/2008:  20:49:34

Seems he plays bluegrass too.


Tom Hanway - Posted - 09/21/2008:  21:00:41

Originally posted by Bill Rogers

Seems he plays bluegrass too.


Yes, his website doesn't reveal all, but I've played jigs and reels with him for hours, and he has a huge repertoire of Irish trad tunes.

No kidding.

Happy pickin,


Mirek Patek - Posted - 09/23/2008:  02:39:04

Hello Tom,
Thanks for your kind words about my approach to fingerpicked (and frailed) DGdg or CGdg tenor banjo. I am looking forward to visit Longford, Ireland this weekend again. However I must admit I am no expert in Irish trad so I am rather able to play the old time (frailing) or bg tunes spontaneously. Concerning the Irish trad I have to follow the leader of the jam session - which is lot easier if it is such a versatile player like you. Anyway, it will be great weekend! See you there.

I hope Gordon Johnston (THAT fingerpicking Irish trad tenor banjo player, ) will be there too. (EDIT - I've received a message he won't come this year.)


Edited by - Mirek Patek on 09/23/2008 05:36:23

bluegrassman2.0 - Posted - 09/23/2008:  17:22:11

How does he tune his banjer?

-BG Man

Mirek Patek - Posted - 09/24/2008:  02:07:49

Gordon is tuned to GDae.

He capoes one of his banjos on 1st fret (I do not know whether the reason is to shorten the scale length or to avoid tuning problems due to the nut height etc.) so this capoed banjo is tuned to F#C#g#d# when uncapoed and GDae when played.


dhergert - Posted - 09/24/2008:  08:54:38

This is an interesting topic for me...

Coming from 5-string bluegrass, jazz and classic banjo experience, I tune my tenor F Bb d f and play fingerstyle on it. Most of my open tuning arrangements work pretty nicely without the 5th string.

I can't claim to know anything about Irish Tenor in either fingerstyle or flatpicking style yet, but wanting to learn more about Irish Tenor fingerstyle playing is one of the reasons I hang onto this old Vega Style M in it's stock tenor configuration.

I'll listen to the sound clips mentioned here when I get home from the office tonight. Thanks!


-- Don

"If you must use your banjo as a snow shovel, do so:
only don''t wonder if it sounds dull afterwards."
-- S.S. Stewart catalog, 1896.

bluegrassman2.0 - Posted - 09/24/2008:  15:13:50

Good luck on the tenor Don!

Mirek, is that why his capo is on backwards? So he isn't as tempted to take it off or something?
Also, what is his finger style method?

-BG Man

Edited by - bluegrassman2.0 on 09/24/2008 15:16:25

Gordon - Posted - 09/25/2008:  01:54:46

Fingerstyle Irish banjo (tenor).
I sometimes capo the first fret but this is just for comfort. The strings are then tuned down to be in pitch with other playersMy banjo is a regular 19 fret one (neck made by Bill Sullivan). Lovely instrument but hurts my hand! When I play at home I practice on a short scale Vega. I'm building a short neck to use regularly.
There's no great secret to the style, just a regular old thumbpick with a couple of straightened out heavy duty plastic fingerpicks.
Check out my interview on the great new banjo site :

Scruggs 5-string player and fi

mikeyes - Posted - 09/26/2008:  08:36:29

Hey Gordon, that is great stuff you do! Any more videos coming?

Mike Keyes

Gordon - Posted - 12/15/2008:  07:52:49

Hi Mike
Sorry for the late reply - I should check this 'blog' more often! A litttle while back I put a couple more things on YouTube but this was a blatant advert for a couple of banjoes that I hope to sell for a friend of mine from New Zealand.
I'll certainly be at Longford in '09 Marek. Off to Co Clare in Feb for a long weekend of sessioning (Ballyvaughan).
Happy Xmas to y'all!

Irish tenor fingerstyle

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