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 Playing Advice: 4-String (Jazz, Blues & Other Trad Styles)
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Fast Triplets on Irish Tenor Banjo?!?

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:

danwat97 - Posted - 02/25/2019:  05:38:42


Wondering if anyone has any advice on getting super fast and smooth triplets while playing Irish Tenor banjo.
Players such as Gerry O'Connor and Damien O'Kane manage to get these incredibly fast, rhythmic sounding triplets.
Is it to do with heavier strings, lighter picks?
Any ideas?


Prescott - Posted - 02/25/2019:  06:34:27

Tuning a tenor banjo down to GDAE for playing Irish tunes definitely calls for heavier strings - half of a set of GHS Octave Mandolin strings works very well, as would others of similar gauge. A Blue Chip flatpick also seems to help - I have one that is .040.
I have found a technique published by the jazz guitarist Al Di Meola to be helpful in my amateur hands. He suggests visualizing and practicing the moving of the pick in a small circular or oval motion, rather than a straight reciprocation that stops at each end.

Irish - Posted - 02/25/2019:  08:53:51

Practice, practice, practice

Irish - Posted - 02/25/2019:  09:10:19

Gerry O'Connor Uses CGDA tuning as do some other professional Irish players. They like the brighter sound.

Fud - Posted - 02/25/2019:  09:34:49

Here is a link to a compilation of clips of various ITM professionals made by Mike Keyes, who is a member here. Each person seems to play a triplet and/or a triple his/her own way. Check it out here:

You can put something like "Irish tenor banjo triplet" into your search engine, and more videos will come up. And like the man said, "Practice, practice, practice." I would add, practice slowly and speed up gradually. If you can't do it slow, you won't do it fast. Hope this helps.


danwat97 - Posted - 02/25/2019:  11:33:04

Thanks for all the responses. I've tried the standard Tenor tuning to see if the extra string tension helped, but didn't find much difference in playability, just a brighter sound as Irish said.


Parker135 - Posted - 02/26/2019:  07:54:44

I'm pretty new at Irish tenor banjo, but Triplets began to get a little easier for me after I (re-)started with Enda Scahill's Irish Tenor Banjo Tutor Vol 1, all the way back to how to hold the banjo. That seems to help with the angle of approach to the strings. The next thing you might check out is where you're picking. Playing closer to the bridge is easier as the strings are "stiffer" there and easier to pass through.


prooftheory - Posted - 03/01/2019:  10:30:46

It should be mentioned that the appropriate forum for this question was here :

Parker135 - Posted - 03/01/2019:  17:47:57

I thought about that also. It would be great if one of the mods could move the discussion over there.  Sherry, can you do that?


Edited by - Parker135 on 03/01/2019 17:50:47

davidcava - Posted - 03/01/2019:  17:57:04

How far apart are the Irish players and the Jazz players? I guess they are miles apart. I don't know....tell me. Just making conversation, but I think it's interesting, especially in the tenor arena. Do any Irish players play a Plectrum banjo as choice?

Parker135 - Posted - 03/01/2019:  18:10:58

I will pretty easily over-drive my headlights with my comments, but I guess the differences could be great or not so great, depending on the musician and how much "fusion" there may be.

Regarding the plectrum, I got to see We Banjos Three in concert about a month ago, and I'm pretty sure Enda Scahill was playing a plectrum, but often capo'd up. I would be curious to know the resultant tuning.

davidcava - Posted - 03/01/2019:  18:26:17

I love fusion makes for delicious music.

Parker135 - Posted - 03/01/2019:  18:38:30

No doubt. I'm doing well to focus on Irish right now though!

davidcava - Posted - 03/01/2019:  18:44:08

I've written some things year ago...with electric banjo....Rock type music..... that Traditionalists would spit at, rather than listen to. It's a cultural thing. Whatever.....people are going to hug their blankets.

davidcava - Posted - 03/01/2019:  18:45:47

I hear you Parker.....I'm focusing on Jazz tenor at the moment. Let's meet up in a few years and lay down some fusion.

Parker135 - Posted - 03/01/2019:  18:46:59

Love to!

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