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 Playing Advice: 4-String (Jazz, Blues & Other Trad Styles)
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Back and Forth Between Bluegrass and Jazz?


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/146501

Ukeridge - Posted - 04/27/2009:  09:09:43


Anyone out there actually do this? Though I'm still a beginner at Scruggs style, I'm in a band where I'd like to do both (When I'm not on banjo I play a resonator ukulele in a way that's kinda a substitute for 4-string jazz banjo). Is it possible to not whack the 5th string? Can I use my thumb pick as the plectrum, curling my finger picks into my fist, to avoid taking the finger picks on and off?

Thank yea for the help!

----------------------
"That''s how I roll."

minstrelmike - Posted - 04/27/2009:  09:51:13


I do it all the time. It is possible to not hit the 5th string. But when I played with a dixieland band, I never used the 5th and would loosen it and pull it off the side of the bridge. Then I'd tune it back up for bluegrass jams the next day. It was easy.

I also do jazz and bluegrass in the same session and with a tight strum, it is easy to avoid the 5th, plus with up-the-neck chords, it is also easy to mute it.
I tried gripping the thumbpick like a flatpick but it never worked for me. There was another thread where that apparently works for some so try it. What works for me is to pinch my thumb with the ring and little fingers, the ones without picks on. I move my elbow out a little which moves the thumbpick out of the way and I strum up and down using the thumb nail up and the fingernails down and my picks are still on. Another way to get a similar sound is to simply strum or pinch with the picks, but the strum with nails or flatpick just sounds better to me.

Mike Moxcey Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
http://moxcey.net/mike/minstrel/index.html

SeldomRight - Posted - 04/27/2009:  10:15:02


My Uncle had a rr spike on the 22nd fret. When he wanted to play bluegrass he released it. When he played dixieland he hooked it. Seemed to work pretty well for him.

Steve

neplusultra - Posted - 04/27/2009:  10:51:48


As for avoiding the 5th string...there seems to be plenty of good advice already...I've watch Doug Mattocks tuck his 5th string under a rail or other device for years...but, as for the thumb pick...that I've not seen done. I use a thumb pick on the guitar for Travis picking but it has never felt right when I've tried using it for true flatpick work. Sure, you can grab the underside with your index finger and pull off a short run, but for true jazz on a banjo, I find I need the hinge effect between my thumb and index finger that I get from a flat pick. The loop around my thumb prevents a consistent up and down motion for tremolos etc. When I've seen Doug Mattock perform it seems he just takes a second to lose the finger picks and switch to a flat pick while he tucks his fifth string. Of course, all the while he is talking to the audience and telling jokes so it works pretty well.

scotty22 - Posted - 04/27/2009:  11:03:00


Yes. Use the tools you possess to execute the music you want.

______________________________
"...fat-arsed, beer-gutted, grey-beared, balding Morris dancers with the little bent pipes clamped in their teeth and scraggly ponytails ... (and the men, too.)"

NYCJazz - Posted - 04/27/2009:  11:44:30


I've tried using my thumbpick that I use with my lapsteel to strum my plectrum, and I don't like the sound. I don't think there would be enough control of the sound to be effective.







You don''t need any brains to listen to music. ~ Luciano Pavarotti

dhergert - Posted - 04/27/2009:  11:56:49


I help teach a college jazz band class, sort of strange bedfellows, me on the 5-string. I would observe, though, that there are a lot of jazz pieces where a 5-string sounds very good. Especially pre-Big Band jazz (aka Old Jazz). We're not talking bluegrass sounds here, it's probably more classic banjo than bluegrass. But it can sound pretty good.

For me, conventional flatpick or thumbpick strumming just never worked, I'm just too much of a fingerstyle player. But, there are some interesting ways to simulate strums in fingerstyle for jazz. One is to do a 3-2-1 or 4-2-1 or 4-3-1 roll, really fast. Another is to alternate your index and middle finger, strumming up across 3 to 4 strings.

Between these methods and regular fingerstyle I can do most of anything I'd want to play on a plectrum banjo, or on a "slow tenor". I haven't come up with something in fingerstyle to simulate the really high speed tenor strumming work you hear the good tenor players do, but maybe someday...

I don't tuck my 5th string away, I just don't hit it when it isn't right. And I never use a capo, no matter the key. That's handy, as when you're playing with a jazz band, there is rarely time between songs to apply or move a capo or to tuck your 5th string away.

Best,

-- Don
http://www.youtube.com/user/dh5string
http://home.att.net/~dhergert
http://mysite.verizon.net/don_hergert


"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.


Edited by - dhergert on 04/27/2009 14:33:21

Compass56 - Posted - 04/27/2009:  15:57:41


I play both. I play Scruggs-style 5-string on a bluegrass banjo in open G tuning, and I play jazz on a tenor (tuned C,G,D,A). To me, the key is to view the situation exactly what it is: two totally different instruments playing totally different styles. When I play bluegrass--and I'm no genius at doing so---I try to keep all of those Scruggs principles in mind. That whole thing is totally separate from the jazz thing I try to do on tenor. Like the song says, "You gotta keep 'em separated!"

Compass56 - Posted - 04/27/2009:  15:59:23


Wait a minute Nathan. Did I hear you say the " thumbpick that I use with my lapsteel"? So you are a lap steel player. I knew it!

Ukeridge - Posted - 04/27/2009:  20:51:49


Thanks for all the great comments . . . you've given me hope. I'll experiment and see what I can come up with. So far I've found that playing with the backs of my fingers (that is, pushing down with the fingernails) is the most natural. Then I can kinda use the thumb to mute the 5th when needed. Though fingerpick removal takes longer than a capo placement.

As it happens, comping is easy and fun for me. It's the bluegrass that's the long road.

NYCJazz - Posted - 04/28/2009:  02:59:32


quote:
Originally posted by Compass56

Wait a minute Nathan. Did I hear you say the " thumbpick that I use with my lapsteel"? So you are a lap steel player. I knew it!





Tony

I thought I'd mentioned that I'd played a little lapsteel with Roy... That's why I knew it was such a difficult instrument.

I have a Fender acoustic guitar that I used to have set up with a nut extender, but these days the GF enjoys it as a reg guitar.

I've collected several of Roy's books of steel tab. I have a copy of the 1917 Keoki Awai book that I really need to study.

Right now I'm devoting all my effort into plectrum. After that, it's back to tenor. Then uke. Then steel. Somewhere in there I want to find a Sousaphone & start playing that again. I've heard that bass player always have work!





You don''t need any brains to listen to music. ~ Luciano Pavarotti

Mirek Patek - Posted - 04/28/2009:  03:46:18


quote:
Originally posted by dhergert

For me, conventional flatpick or thumbpick strumming just never worked, I'm just too much of a fingerstyle player. But, there are some interesting ways to simulate strums in fingerstyle for jazz. One is to do a 3-2-1 or 4-2-1 or 4-3-1 roll, really fast. Another is to alternate your index and middle finger, strumming up across 3 to 4 strings.
Another way is to use index and middle fingerpicks for up-strumming, and thumbpick AND RING FINGERNAIL for downstrumming.

Here are some archived topics which explore the downbrushes by bare ring fingernail:
http://www.banjohangout.org/forum/a...IC_ID=109325
http://www.banjohangout.org/forum/a...PIC_ID=75755
http://www.banjohangout.org/forum/a...IC_ID=113696

Mirek

-------------------------------------------------
http://www.youtube.com/user/mirekpatek
http://www.geocities.com/patekstylebanjo

scotty22 - Posted - 04/28/2009:  15:44:40


quote:
Originally posted by NYCJazz
I've heard that bass player always have work!



Aside from musicianship...if one is professional and deals well with the social elements of participating in groups, then playing opportunities tend to be abundant.

______________________________
"...fat-arsed, beer-gutted, grey-beared, balding Morris dancers with the little bent pipes clamped in their teeth and scraggly ponytails ... (and the men, too.)"


Edited by - scotty22 on 04/29/2009 05:56:37

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