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 Playing Advice: All Other Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: finger style


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/347494

mjbrennan - Posted - 10/19/2018:  15:31:24


Is there any section on the Hangout that deals with finger style playing of the 5 string, ie playing accompaniment, melody , and all that Scruggs style music and more but without picks. Much easier on the ears of the cohabitants!!!!!!
Thank you.

John Gribble - Posted - 10/19/2018:  21:11:35


If you like the bluegrass style, but not the picks, just take the picks off. Your fingers won't forget how to wear them.

mjbrennan - Posted - 10/20/2018:  02:12:25


Thanks, but I was wondering are there any special techniques involved, eg nail length and any other advice that would be helpful.

joinerjohn - Posted - 10/20/2018:  05:35:41


keep the picks on use a banjo mute, mike banjo's mute is great. mikesbanjomute.com

Tractor1 - Posted - 10/20/2018:  07:29:16


you need to get up with Joel Hooks a classic stylists ,those guys live and breathe bare finger playing.
mellow banjo is possible with picks but counter to the mindset of scruggs style in a high percentage of situations

mbuk06 - Posted - 10/20/2018:  08:29:55


The term 'finger-style' is more usually used to describe the technique(s) used by musicians who play the form of banjo playing popularised in England at the end of the 19th century featuring polkas, gavottes and scottisches as well as what are thought of as more traditional hornpipes, jigs and reels.



There are various other ways of up-picking a banjo. These are all quite common and not confined to the parlour banjo repertoire. There are fairly regular posts in the clawhammer and old-time styles section here on BHO that discuss up-picking techniques.



Technical guidance will vary in much the same way as for guitar; some players advocate using the pads of the fingers only, others use the nails. As with most areas of banjo it comes down to personal preference for the sound you want to make.


Edited by - mbuk06 on 10/20/2018 08:35:48

Mooooo - Posted - 10/20/2018:  09:25:28


If you don't want to change the type of music you play and just want it quieter, then try the banjo mute, or, what I do late at night is stuff pajamas between the co-rod and head. The closer and tighter you get to the bridge, the quieter it will be - too tight, and you will go out of tune. The drawback is you get lots of changes in tone and sustain. Also, you can learn to pick quietly, it's called dynamics. I have learned to pick pretty quietly, since I am lazy to open the resonator sometimes.


Edited by - Mooooo on 10/20/2018 09:26:42

Laurence Diehl - Posted - 10/25/2018:  13:39:16


quote:

Originally posted by mjbrennan

Thanks, but I was wondering are there any special techniques involved, eg nail length and any other advice that would be helpful.






Banjo players from the 1930's (before picks) developed thick callouses on their fingertips, and actually got a lot of volume that way. Personally, I use nails but I don't play without picks enough for it to matter. As others have said - you can always use a mute. Also, clothes pegs attached to the bridge produce quite a pleasant sound that is not quite as muted, but has more tone.

BobTheGambler - Posted - 10/26/2018:  09:10:52


quote:

Originally posted by Laurence Diehl

quote:

Originally posted by mjbrennan

Thanks, but I was wondering are there any special techniques involved, eg nail length and any other advice that would be helpful.






Banjo players from the 1930's (before picks) developed thick callouses on their fingertips, and actually got a lot of volume that way. Personally, I use nails but I don't play without picks enough for it to matter. As others have said - you can always use a mute. Also, clothes pegs attached to the bridge produce quite a pleasant sound that is not quite as muted, but has more tone.






Plenty of old time players used bare fingers, but there were definitely finger picks prior to the 1930s. The popularity of Hawaiian guitar made them widely available, and they were used extensively by country blues musicians. If you look at photos of old time string bands from the '20s, most of the guitarists are playing with a thumb pick. Banjo players started using them around the same time, and you can spot them in some old photos and hear fingerpick-like banjo tone on some 78s for sure.

Joel Hooks - Posted - 10/26/2018:  10:19:49


quote:

Originally posted by Laurence Diehl

quote:

Originally posted by mjbrennan

Thanks, but I was wondering are there any special techniques involved, eg nail length and any other advice that would be helpful.






Banjo players from the 1930's (before picks) developed thick callouses on their fingertips, and actually got a lot of volume that way. Personally, I use nails but I don't play without picks enough for it to matter. As others have said - you can always use a mute. Also, clothes pegs attached to the bridge produce quite a pleasant sound that is not quite as muted, but has more tone.






I play 98% of the time in "classic banjo" style-- bare fingers on period sized nylon strings.  I don't have thick calluses on my fingertips.  And I've get an hour+ a day of practice (and more when an event is coming up). The other 2% is stroke style with a thimble.  For the last few years I have been very focused on classic banjo.

Joel Hooks - Posted - 10/26/2018:  10:22:18


quote:

Originally posted by Tractor1

you need to get up with Joel Hooks a classic stylists ,those guys live and breathe bare finger playing.

mellow banjo is possible with picks but counter to the mindset of scruggs style in a high percentage of situations






Don't do this if you are expecting mellower and quieter  wink-- classic played right is quite powerful.  I do most of my practicing with a towel shoved in the back or a mute on. 

Laurence Diehl - Posted - 10/26/2018:  10:55:11


quote:

Originally posted by Joel Hooks

quote:

Originally posted by Laurence Diehl

quote:

Originally posted by mjbrennan

Thanks, but I was wondering are there any special techniques involved, eg nail length and any other advice that would be helpful.






Banjo players from the 1930's (before picks) developed thick callouses on their fingertips, and actually got a lot of volume that way. Personally, I use nails but I don't play without picks enough for it to matter. As others have said - you can always use a mute. Also, clothes pegs attached to the bridge produce quite a pleasant sound that is not quite as muted, but has more tone.






I play 98% of the time in "classic banjo" style-- bare fingers on period sized nylon strings.  I don't have thick calluses on my fingertips.  And I've get an hour+ a day of practice (and more when an event is coming up). The other 2% is stroke style with a thimble.  For the last few years I have been very focused on classic banjo.






I was thinking of guys like Tarrant Bailey Jr.

Laurence Diehl - Posted - 10/26/2018:  10:56:16


quote:

Originally posted by BobTheGambler

quote:

Originally posted by Laurence Diehl

quote:

Originally posted by mjbrennan

Thanks, but I was wondering are there any special techniques involved, eg nail length and any other advice that would be helpful.






Banjo players from the 1930's (before picks) developed thick callouses on their fingertips, and actually got a lot of volume that way. Personally, I use nails but I don't play without picks enough for it to matter. As others have said - you can always use a mute. Also, clothes pegs attached to the bridge produce quite a pleasant sound that is not quite as muted, but has more tone.






Plenty of old time players used bare fingers, but there were definitely finger picks prior to the 1930s. The popularity of Hawaiian guitar made them widely available, and they were used extensively by country blues musicians. If you look at photos of old time string bands from the '20s, most of the guitarists are playing with a thumb pick. Banjo players started using them around the same time, and you can spot them in some old photos and hear fingerpick-like banjo tone on some 78s for sure.






I was thinking of guys like Tarrant Bailey Jr.

Tractor1 - Posted - 10/26/2018:  11:50:22


 Since I got quoted



If classic style done right does not allow mellow moments I am glad I don't go there, Playing a banjo set up for that style  can still be done without having to have consent from that camp imo.I firmly believe mellow is a possibility  ,if not I would change my set-up until it was. I like to play different moods ,mindsets etc. If I had to stuff a towel in my banjo I would be changing things out in order to get all of it's tones.



This is the way I see it,I don't put it forth as rules for anyone else.


Edited by - Tractor1 on 10/26/2018 11:59:20

Joel Hooks - Posted - 10/26/2018:  12:04:20


quote:

Originally posted by Tractor1

If classic style done right does not allow mellow moments I am glad I don't go there, Playing a banjo set up for that can still be done without having to have consent from that camp imo






One can easily play p, pp, ppp etc. but normal mf is quite loud.  is eyeopening with the proper setup.  The nature of gut (or nylon) strings is that one can make great use of dynamics and shading.  While I am no expert on bluegrass style, in my limited experience the quieter one plays the more evident the pick noise is.  There are only the notes with classic banjo- no finger noises.



That said, for normal playing it can be (and often is) as loud or louder then steel strings and picks.  That is why I practice with a towel stuck in the back.



One can set up the banjo for a duller tone and less volume.  Thick strings, heavy modern bridge, and fiberskyn head will quiet down a banjo with nylon strings.  Then play far from the bridge for even less volume.

Tractor1 - Posted - 10/26/2018:  12:58:15


I don't play bluegrass style,much either,glad to hear that now ,my advice that the classic style style would be good for mellow playing is not to be completely a bad thing to put forth.

I like to set up my banjo for good tone to my ears and no diminishing of volume. No dull tone accepted. Pick noise comes from pre mature touching and contact pick ups imo. I don't care for out of the box 3 footed bridges .

I really don't enjoy volume wars or being around that mindset.

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