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 Playing Advice: Bluegrass (Scruggs) Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Right hands: Earl compared to JD and Kristin Scott Benson and Jim Mills


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/356927

kjcole - Posted - 09/13/2019:  11:56:41


Here's Earl. Slow down this video to .25X (click on the gear to the lower right).
youtube.com/watch?v=EjLyVmmQEk...dio=1&t=0

Seems to me that Earl played with a hand that was mostly parallel to the head because he didn't prop his hand up with the ring and pinky but laid it down close to the head. The picking motion was mostly from the middle and last knuckles of the fingers (not the first knuckle0, so that the trajectory of the fingertip was across the string and then arcing slightly up to the palm.

Then there's JD.

youtube.com/watch?v=tTv6CAmCO8...o=1&t=102

youtube.com/watch?v=dl0Z5LY7LUQ

JD picks with much more motion at the first knuckle (but still lot's of motion at the other knuckles), but because he stands his hand up more with his plant fingers (and his wrist is flexed so much more than Earl's) the trajectory of his fingertip is like Earl's (across and up).

Then there's Kristin Scott Benson standing next to JD. Kristin really plays with a lot of motion at the first knuckle because she too stands her hand up with her plant fingers.

Then Jim Mills, who also stands his hand up and uses lot's of motion at the first knuckle:

youtube.com/watch?v=mMEbwDJygZw

Different approaches to the basic hand/wrist posture, but the amount of motion at the first knuckle versus the 2nd and last knuckle is adjusted to preserve the basic trajectory of the pick (across and up to palm). That's the tone-pulling trajectory we should be aiming form, regardless of how we position our hand.

How do others see it?

Kelly

Texasbanjo - Posted - 09/13/2019:  12:35:42


Different people, different hands, larger, smaller, slimmer, thicker. Probably no 2 people have hands exactly alike and place their hands exactly alike. Nor should they. Do what works for you and don't worry about how J.D., Earl or anyone else does. Just my 2 cents worth.

chuckv97 - Posted - 09/13/2019:  12:44:05


Coming from some classical guitar (ok,ok,,don’t shoot me yet) background, there is a school of thought (if banjo pickers think...) that pulling up (or down, as in the rest stroke on guitar) brings out the best tone, because the string puts more up & down vibration on the bridge. If you just pick across the string it will vibrate more sideways rather than up & down, transferring less desirable vibrations onto the bridge.

eagleisland - Posted - 09/13/2019:  12:46:56


I like Sherry's council. I would, however, add that there's one hell of a lot more power and strength in the first knuckle than in the outer ones. The muscles for the latter are small and in the back of the hand. The muscles for the first knuckle are much larger and actually located up near the elbow (wear a T-shirt and watch yourself play in a mirror to see what happens).

KCJones - Posted - 09/13/2019:  12:51:25


One things for sure, as far as this amateur can tell. Finger position and angle-of-attack affect tone greatly. Focusing on that technique is just as important as what rolls you're playing and what notes you're fretting, as far as overall quality of the sound and enjoyability of the music goes. Nobody wants to hear your picks scraping the strings, regardless of how hot your licks are.

Bill Rogers - Posted - 09/13/2019:  12:57:03


Earl & J.D. had 50+ year careers. Were the hand positions consistent over the years? Earl in the 1970s didn’t sound just like Earl in the 1940s. Was that in part from a changed hand position?


Edited by - Bill Rogers on 09/13/2019 17:23:06

candkath - Posted - 09/13/2019:  13:03:02


I know a banjo play whos fingers are all over the place while he is playing but he doesnt miss a note or a lick. Its all about what works for you and the end result.

chuckv97 - Posted - 09/13/2019:  13:24:49


But I dare say he’s an outlier

kjcole - Posted - 09/13/2019:  13:42:38


Hi Skip,

Actually the flexor muscles for the all three knuckles are in the forearm - except for the small intrinsic hand muscles that produce torque at the first knuckle. In fact the fingertip force contributed by the last two joints is considerable.

Sherri and others. I agree that we all need to find that comfortable position, but the end result regardless of differences in hand position is a pick stroke that finishes upward, with a considerable motion at the distal joints. That's what we all share.

Laurence Diehl - Posted - 09/13/2019:  14:18:44


I think this is an interesting comparison, and tone is comprised of many variables of course, including micro-movements of the hand and fingers and the angle of attack to the string etc. The angle of attack is something I find easier to dial in by adjusting the angle of the neck, not by moving my hand into uncomfortable positions.
But the ways we judge tone is with our ears, not our eyes, so this seems a bit backwards to be looking at our hands when our ears ultimately tell us when we have it dialed in.

warpdrive - Posted - 09/13/2019:  15:38:01


Please don't anybody be offended by this,



Your " WAY OVER THINKING THIS"



None of those people gave the first thought to hand positions and finger angles and such.....the just did it, and used there natural abilities they have, and used there ears to listen for good tone and volume, or power as some of you like to put it.



Again, no offense is meant by this,



Warp!


Edited by - warpdrive on 09/13/2019 15:38:35

gtani7 - Posted - 09/13/2019:  17:24:29


There's other v ariables besides what Sherry listed, including how you bend your fingerpick blades, how long they are vs thumbpick, picking at X vs Y position (string tension), bridge height etc etc. There's a detailed analysis of RH technique at Jack Hatfield's "Exercises for Three Finger" book and also in Trischka/Wernick "Masters of the 5 String" book, if you want to read a really really really long analyiss of guitar flat and fingerpicking, look up Tuck Andress' website on that. If your fingerpicks are curved close to fingertips, try straighter blades and vice versa, they feel and sound different but over time you adapt to get good motion and tone.



The switching picks exercise is interesting, but like Warp! says, don't overthink this and don't force yourself to do unnatural things because some famous player did it.


Edited by - gtani7 on 09/13/2019 17:29:33

Bill Rogers - Posted - 09/13/2019:  17:26:09


Exactly. Same with clawhammer. Too many folks way overthink it.

kmwaterstx - Posted - 09/13/2019:  18:10:31


Trial and error rules.

Fretting Fingers - Posted - 09/14/2019:  03:57:27


i remember when I first started playing I wanted to sound like Mr. Scruggs. At first I thought it was the banjo he played, so I found a Gibson Mastertone and found out it wasn't that, I still did not sound like him. Then I thought it was how he held the banjo, made adjustments and found out it wasn't that. Then it dawned on me, it was Mr. Scruggs. He had a "heart" for the instrument and the music. I still don't sound like him but I CAN have a heart for the instrument and the music and I sound like "I" sound. I stopped trying to be a Mr.Scuggs and worked on sounding the best "I" can sound. Satisfaction is much better than frustration. :)

stanleytone - Posted - 09/14/2019:  04:30:48


id have to get an operation to keep my hand the same as JD's.

beegee - Posted - 09/14/2019:  05:34:02


After teaching banjo for many years, I have seen about every kind of hand position. One factor overrides all others in clean and "fast" picking:economy of motion.

Tractor1 - Posted - 09/14/2019:  08:45:43


Doug got a lot of long velocity strokes. One of the fundamentals is the more you bend the string before it releases the louder it is.

 


Quagmire - Posted - 09/14/2019:  09:54:26


quote:

Originally posted by beegee

After teaching banjo for many years, I have seen about every kind of hand position. One factor overrides all others in clean and "fast" picking:economy of motion.






Bob, y'ever see Cia Cherryholmes pickin'?  Her fingers just be a flyin' - would be flailin' if I did that - and yet she consistently gets clear, sharp tone with good note separation.  Tina Hart (Stelling Belle) once related an analogy that Ned Luberecki made to her about runners regarding finger motion.  He pointed out to her how a runner can have a lot more power in their stride by motion from the hips and how that compares to finger motion from the first knuckle.



Personally, I'm also in the economy of motion camp and I am working real hard at that.  It is harder to achieve economy of motion by powering from the first joint but leaves more fine control to the second and third joints if you can "pull it off" (pun intended).



Speaking of pulling it off, Paul Hawthorne (RIP) in Gestalt Banjo spoke to this as well in the context of string motion in the vertical vs. horizontal plane.  He also argued and I agree that the tone produced by the string moving in the vertical - at least as much vertical component as you can achieve realistically - is more pleasing than that generated by moving in just the horizontal plane.  (Cia Cherryholmes is the exception to my ear; she still seems to strike in more of the horizontal plane but again gets terrific tone.  Maybe her Huber banjo deserves some of the credit here, as do the pre-war Gibsons?)  Hawthorne said string motion in the vertical plane can be achieved either by pulling/plucking with a slightly upward component to the motion of the finger at string release or by pushing slightly downward as Bela does with picks bent back almost across the top of the fingertips and results in almost a tapping motion by the finger to get the vertical component into the string motion.  I have to think that the tapping motion from the first joint could result in potentially blinding picking speed compared to the plucking motion by itself from the second and third joints.  



Picking almost exclusively from the second and third joints early on in my experience wound up giving me problems that many have attributed to focal point dystonia in their experience, in my case resulting in the index finger of the picking hand wanting to tuck up toward the palm at around the 12 -14 year point for me when playing at a fast clip.  Concentrating on powering more from the first joint has helped me with this a lot in recent years.   A significant change in my technique, it has also been difficult to get to the point that my right hand is relaxed.  It takes awhile to retrain muscles to work in a more optimal manner when they have been doing things a different way for so long.



Call it overthinking if you want, but the subject deserves thought early on when somebody is just beginning their banjo journey.  Otherwise, you have to unlearn bad habits later on, making banjo playing harder than it already is for some of us.



Great topic, Kelly!



Happy trails,



Randy in Germantown, TN


Edited by - Quagmire on 09/14/2019 09:59:50

Richard Hauser - Posted - 09/15/2019:  07:54:36


I once went to a workshop, and the instructor recommended that a player not try to imitate the hand movement of their idol. As Sherry wrote, individuals are configured differently. The important thing is playing comfortably and produce good quality music. If your hand/wrist/fingers hurt, your body is sending you a message.

sirtwangalot - Posted - 09/16/2019:  16:40:00


banjocompass.com/lessons/begin...xercises/

Best I have seen for an explanation

sirtwangalot - Posted - 09/16/2019:  19:42:52


I meant Geoff's explanation of finger movement in the second video. Emulating him has helped me a lot, no changes for a while, right down to his pick angle. Geoff has good attack on the strings, and his hand looks relaxed.

Rich Weill - Posted - 09/18/2019:  14:24:39


quote:

Originally posted by stanleytone

id have to get an operation to keep my hand the same as JD's.






I find JD's right hand painful to watch,



In Masters of the 5-String Banjo, Pat Cloud said: "[T]he reason I angle my fingerpicks and straighten them out is because I can just put my hand in a very comfortable position where I don't have to cock my wrist to the side. I've noticed a lot of bluegrass players cock their wrist to the side, and if tendinitis or tension results, it's because the wrist function is being impaired. In other words, you're running those tendons through a kink in your wrist. So I do what I do to be as comfortable as I can with the right hand."

kjcole - Posted - 09/19/2019:  12:55:21


Thanks for weighing in everyone!

I wasn't trying to advocate that we try to copy any of these masters, but only that Earl use comparatively little MP joint motion, which seems likely due to the way he positioned his right hand (parallel to head, plant fingers at a more acute angle to the head). The other players used less acute angles for the plant fingers, resulting in a hand less parallel to the head, which turn allowed for them to use more MP motion. One seems to be causing the other.

Why? I was thinking that probably because the most important thing is how the pick hits the strings, not whether you lay the hand down or stand it up.

I don't know if one approach or the other is more efficient, or mechanically optimal because these players clearly can pull tone, play fast, have great timing, and have the endurance to jam all night. It was just an observation. I suspect that as the hand stands up more, more MP motion is required to hit the strings so as to excite them optimally (presumably, more vertical oscillation). Randy does remind me of the important fact that the more the pick blades are curved (e.g., bent or flattened to follow the contour of the fingertip) can translate into pushing the string down as the fingertip travels on its arc through the strings. Given this, I doubt that any of them were actually plucking up, per se - it's just the follow-through of the fingertip trajectory.

All of this is fascinating to me (at the risk of boring everyone else), because while at jams etc you see all types of hand positions and finger motions and picks bent to different contours in jams, not everyone is pulling good tone. Which now leads me to being Captain Obvious, and saying that pickers still looking for good tone might need to worry less about their hand positions and joint motions and more about how the pick swings through the string. Fix that and you'll probably find yourself somewhere on the continuum of hand 'flatness' vs 'MP motion' that seems to be reflected in the videos. Heck I'm just trying to think through this and see if any of this makes any sense.

Old Hickory - Posted - 09/19/2019:  15:52:10


quote:

Originally posted by kjcole

... at jams etc you see all types of hand positions and finger motions and picks bent to different contours in jams, not everyone is pulling good tone. Which now leads me to being Captain Obvious, and saying that pickers still looking for good tone might need to worry less about their hand positions and joint motions and more about how the pick swings through the string. . . .






I think pickers looking for good tone need to spend time developing an image in their mind's ear of what they want their banjos to sound like, hearing what their playing actually sounds like, and working on the sound of their banjo playing rather just working out banjo stuff to play.



I don't think I've ever heard a good player who didn't also produce good tone. That's because to my mind, tone comes from and reflects musicianship.  Tone isn't the result of just the mechanics of hand position, pick length, pick angle, or pick swing through the strings. What we hear as tone is intentional expressiveness of musicians who sing through their instruments. How one musician pulls tone may not be the same as how someone else does it.

warpdrive - Posted - 09/19/2019:  17:13:14


Ken,
you are exactly right....good tone don't just happen, and i've seen people try for years, trying different hand positions, different picking angles, and it is really , really simple, after it's all said and done.....either they get it or they don't, but i can tell you that the good one's don't have to struggle with it, and the one's that never get it, will constantly blame it something other than the fact that they just don't have it!

This is a harsh reality, but sometime the truth is.

This is something that is a real stickler with me, because i do grow tired of hearing people try to come up with short cuts, and reasons that good tone can be achieved as easily as something like hand positions and finger attack and such.

If it was easy, everybody and anybody could do it!
There is something to be said for Ability and Talent!

warp!

sirtwangalot - Posted - 09/19/2019:  18:27:55


quote:

Originally posted by warpdrive

Ken,





This is something that is a real stickler with me, because i do grow tired of hearing people try to come up with short cuts, and reasons that good tone can be achieved as easily as something like hand positions and finger attack and such.



If it was easy, everybody and anybody could do it!

There is something to be said for Ability and Talent!



warp!






But your wrong. I made a 100% improvement when I focused on my attack on the strings. To get right to it, focus on using the first two joints of the picking fingers, and getting the knuckles "quiet" and less active. My economy of motion improved -INSTANTLY. Tone improved instantly. Your defeatist attitude is disheartening.



BTW I'm left handed, play righty, and have a slight neurological problem on my left side. Tonight I played Sally Goodin at @ 120 bpm, but it was clean, and I never really worked it before. To those who might be struggling a bit, I say this: make sure your attack on the strings is optimal before you throw in the towel. Mine WAS NOT and I almost gave up needlessly.



 



 



BTW, let me hear what you've got.


Edited by - sirtwangalot on 09/19/2019 18:35:52

warpdrive - Posted - 09/19/2019:  18:51:43


Hey,
That is really good, i am glad you believe you figured it out,
I've never had to approach something like that. I would be interested in seeing a video of how you made your big jump in pulling tone, i imagine a lot of people would be interested in seeing that.
something that big would merit teacher status, or at the very least, youtube posting so others could learn and see if what you did helps them.
I know i'm sure interested.

Warp!

sirtwangalot - Posted - 09/19/2019:  19:04:55


I did already, it was Geoff Howald's video. What do I add to it? I emulated him.



I've been playing for about two months after a decades old hiatus. I use my ear and know what sounds good and bad, so maybe it's good taste and natural rhythm. Yes I'll post something later, but mostly for constructive criticism from members like Jack Baker, or other instructors.



Many players never get 100% explanation of how to attack the strings, and probably play too flat. The advice from previous posters seems to concur with this suggestion. I know it helped me, it's all I can say.



The thing that irked me about your post was a total disregard on how a small change CAN have significant results.



I've said nothing new, and am not revealing anything that hasn't already been said when it comes to picking a banjo, but rather reiterating the importance of getting the power and tone from the first two knuckles of the picking hand. It helped me, and I'll bet others who haven't given it enough thought might find a similar result.



Should it have been obvious? This I can't answer, but better late than never.


Edited by - sirtwangalot on 09/19/2019 19:06:22

warpdrive - Posted - 09/19/2019:  19:23:58


Seriously,
If your getting what you believe to be good results with these little changes, then by all means use them.

In my 46 years of picking a banjo, i never ever thought in the ways the new students do. I am old school and only know old school ways, and only had less than 5 lessons my whole life,....and i didn't have to work real hard at it, most everything i've ever wanted to play on the banjo, i play, and i don't think in the history of the banjo hangout web site, have i ever asked a legit technical question,on picking. I am all for someone getting better, and if you really feel that the change you made is getting you where you want to be, i'm not questioning it, i've just never seen subtle change yield big difference, especially when it come to tone.
So i apologize for "po poing " your experiment in finger and hand position changes, and the positive outcome you got from them, i don't want to discourage anyone but i also don't want to give creedence to something that is hokum, but again , if you got results....enough said.

Warp!

sirtwangalot - Posted - 09/20/2019:  04:12:27


Yes that sums it up, I got a result.

Basically went from less efficient picking stroke to one with more power and accuracy by making a change.



I still need to focus on getting the angle of attack from the first two joints, I was doing something else for two months, and whatever is going on now is better. If I had to spend all my time thinking about the ergonomics and logistics of picking, yes I would quit for sure.



Maybe there is a time when a person needs to reevaluate the time and energy in an activity. I just say make sure there was not a simple solution you didn't think of, as foolish as it might have been before you call it quits.



Anyway there's plenty of options to play an instrument.



 





 



 



 


Edited by - sirtwangalot on 09/20/2019 04:16:16

sirtwangalot - Posted - 09/20/2019:  05:41:04


BTW , logistics is the wrong term. Picking is not the "details of an operation"

I think I meant to say "mechanics of picking" lol.



Also after consideration, we may have an apples and oranges thing going on here, 



Apples - The newer player who has not explored enough proper technique, limited experience, got frustrated and ready to call it quits.



Oranges- Years of dedicated practice, workshops, instructional material, and unfortunately little progress, or at least a perceived dissatisfaction with the results. For myself, if I top out at @ 120 - 130  bpm, that's fine, as long as it's clean, musical, good timing, and hopefully entertaining to myself and others. I'll see, but never sacrifice tone and good playing for speed. 



I don't know how fast I can get, but it's not my primary objective. This said, some tunes need a bit of speed, or they don't sound like much, especially the somewhat abstract Scruggs interpretations of the melody up the neck..  Melodic style is friendlier in this respect, sounding  good at a variety of tempos, almost sounding like classical music at times.



 



 



 


Edited by - sirtwangalot on 09/20/2019 05:54:26

warpdrive - Posted - 09/20/2019:  06:28:21


twang,

I can tell from your post that you really want this.....passion is a good thing, a fire that burns in you, so much, that the banjo is all you think about, usually, from my experience, those people go on to become good pickers.

I am sure your not needing advise from a guy like me.....but, for what it's worth, if you don't have a good experienced teacher, that you can sit down with, and that can spot poor fundamentals in your technique (not that you have any) you should find one, there really is no substitute for having a real teacher, that can pick, even if you have to skye with one, it is still better than going it on your own.

When i speak of teachers, i'm not talking about the music store hacks that play 7 different instruments and when they sit down with you, they have a Mel Bay, you can play the banjo too book in front of them......i 'm talking a real, bonified , dyed in the wool, bluegrass banjo picker, that has some street cred, ....find you one of those, a your world of banjo will take on a new perspective.

Yes, you can go it on your own, basically that is what i did, but....... i am a bit of the exception, and not the rule.....its in my DNA, and i come from several generations of Hillbilly gumption, and i had support and encouragement from family and friends that were just like me, so it would have been a shock , had i not been successful in my banjo journey.

I have no idea how old you are, you don't have much on your home page, and yes, anytime you encounter a guy like me on the hangout, that is what we do, we go to your homepage and check to see if one plus one equals two, most times, we can tell by the questions your asking, and what your posting, that's not to say that we can't be wrong, but most times, anybody that has become a good banjo picker, and this is based on my experience, they all pretty much did it in a similar fashion.

You can arrive at the same point from different directions, on this there is no argument, but in my experience, it's been nice to get directions from someone that has walked that path, several times, and knows what to avoid, rather than stumbling through the brush, looking for the path.

Good luck in your journey, keep that fire burning.

Warp!

sirtwangalot - Posted - 09/20/2019:  07:05:12


I've played other instruments, and have knowledge of chords and so on.



Dabbled in jazz, this can really get your head spinning with all the theory. I've come to the conclusion you don't necessarily need to know what you're doing to play well, but it never hurts, and can save time. 



It's the RH that got me hung up on the banjo. 



I think Sonny Osborne said "If you don't have a good right hand, you're sunk."



To refine, this I'd say if you don't have a good RH after addressing most possible issues, worked constructively at it for some time, then yes, your boat has possibly sunk. A car without an engine.

 

warpdrive - Posted - 09/20/2019:  07:22:12


Twang,

Anything you can reference from Sonny, " is as good as moses carrying down the tablets from the Mountain"!

A good right hand is important, or should i say, a strong right hand.

Even before Uncle Josh wrote his book, when i would play with him and Kenny, he would be telling me stories of how strong Earls hands were, "Earl was not a big man, but he had the strongest hands of any man i ever met".

You can hear on some of Earls live performances, how hard he was pulling at the strings when he was "amped up" you can hear those strings a rattling , and some would argue, he was over playing, but that argument is usually spouted by those that can't do it, much less understand it.

Your on to something now, and i think if you work on the "playing with purpose" and keep in mind, that the banjo is a lead instrument, and practice your rolls with strong dexterity, making sure that the blades on your finger picks are striking the strings square across the blades, and the thumb pick is also striking square, you will find how much your tone will improve, and it will start to become "second nature" to you.

Your jazz background is a plus in my book, the other knowledge of other genre's is a plus, i also had those tools in my tool box, and i had the strong right hand in spades, still do. Just keep the good and strong....not over picking, but make sure it's deliberate, striking of the strings, in mind, and never mind the speed, the speed will come, just concentrate on good contact, and i think it will yield you a nice response.

warp!

Quagmire - Posted - 09/20/2019:  07:25:51


To say good tone doesn’t take much thought is pure, unadulterated hogwash. I don’t know what Earl sounded like as a youngster (before going pro) but I’ll bet his tone evolved with time and experience. The rest of us after Earl can thank him for showing us the tone one can get out of a banjo, giving us an example to strive toward. JD was one of the first to get there after Earl and his hand position is nowhere near natural for a human being without training it to play in that position. Others will get where they want or at least satisfied with by training their hands/fingers for the muscle memory and strength that produces their tone. It is important to emphasize this aspect of training early on in your banjo endeavors. No, don’t do anything that physically hurts because yes, your body is telling you something, but you will need countless slow repetitions until the movement that produces the tone you are satisfied with is second nature. You are going to have to build strength in muscles in your hands/fingers/arms you haven’t used to the degree that picking takes to produce the control that enables the tone and timing you are after. Even on something like pick noise from digging in too deep takes focus. I personally heard Bela say that he has to adjust his attack to minimize this from time to time. If you are lucky enough to be born with a particular hand structure that requires no adjustment or training to consistently result in good tone, Mozel Tov to ya’.

kjcole - Posted - 09/20/2019:  07:30:53


I agree 100% that pulling tone starts with listening to yourself and having that reference sound firmly in your head for comparison.  For some that might be enough, but others who aren't pulling tone despite their best listening efforts might want to look further, and that leads to how your picks are putting the strings into motion.  There's a lot of instructional focus and advice on right hand mechanics (for flatpicking too!), but in the end the sound comes down to how the strings move, and that's the result of how the picks hit the strings (direction, what amount of pick blade contacts the string, contact or 'dwell' time, etc).  While there might be an infinite variety of hand positions, joint motions, etc, that can accomplish this, I don't think that there's much allowable variation in how the strings are put into motion when we get good bluegrass tone.


Edited by - kjcole on 09/20/2019 08:02:38

kjcole - Posted - 09/20/2019:  08:11:49


And I agree 100% with Warp's (Kevin's) advice on hitting those strings flat on the blade for a big, fat, smooth sound. The rest follows from that (positioning the hand, positioning the pick, bending twisting pick blades, etc). It's not about how you position your hand, its about how you hit the strings.

warpdrive - Posted - 09/20/2019:  08:35:06


Kelly,
You make a point, and there is no better reference than the video on the previous page and one of my fav's that i watched all my life, and his....Doug Dillard playing Hickory Hollow.

Listen at his tone, and there are some good close up's of his hands. Now Doug was tall and lanky, and his hands reflect that, but his contact with those strings and the power and tone was never un-mistakable. I've always loved the different tones that a banjo can produce, and for me, Doug Dillard's tone that he was able to produce from his weapon of choice...a arch top banjo, he was the king of tone on a arch top!

I rediscovered the other day, something that still astounds me, and even though we are all mostly, paying tribute to Earl and his tone, and granted, i've never tried to copy the legend i'm about to reference, but i find it hard to find another recording or example in banjo, of incredible banjo tone, and string striking and speed......lord, lord.....listen to JD Crowe on Jimmy Martins Album, were he does, Bugle Call Rag, or as listed on the track as ....Crowe On The Banjo.....hands down, the best version of that song ever recored, and i don't think can ever be duplicated or there is any other instrumental by any artist that is better, some may come close to being as good, ....but the timing and note separation, borders on "machine like" i wish i could post it, but i lack those computer skills, maybe someone else will do it, but it bears posting on this thread as maybe the best example.

Warp!

Quagmire - Posted - 09/20/2019:  08:40:28


quote:

Originally posted by kjcole

And I agree 100% with Warp's (Kevin's) advice on hitting those strings flat on the blade for a big, fat, smooth sound. The rest follows from that (positioning the hand, positioning the pick, bending twisting pick blades, etc). It's not about how you position your hand, its about how you hit the strings.






At least now we are talking about different points in the same process of producing the best tone you can produce.  I mentioned earlier in this thread how I got to a point at 12 or 13 years where I started getting symptoms of what medical people call focal point dystonia.  I think I got to that condition by trying to play at the same speed I had gotten to at an earlier point in my life, basically trying to force it and I was unconsciously tensing up as result.  Getting back to focusing on tone and what plane the strings are moving forced me to retrain appropriate muscles to get that tone and forced me into giving up on speed for the time being.  It will come back to where I want it when I can give the time to working up to it.  For me, that’s just going to have to wait until I am done doing what I do for a living.  I will pro’ly never play at a pro level, but it’s still gotta sound right for me to enjoy it.


Edited by - Quagmire on 09/20/2019 08:41:34

kjcole - Posted - 09/20/2019:  09:02:53


In the end, it's all about the sound, not just playing notes. All this stuff about hand mechanics, equipment, setup, etc is a means to an end (or it should be) - making a musical sound. There's a lot to be said for closing your eyes and really listen to what sounds you are making (or critically listening to recordings of yourself)

sirtwangalot - Posted - 09/20/2019:  09:02:55


I think there is some confusion about hitting the strings "flat"



This refers to the blade angle I think.



My focus was getting a slight "upward pluck" on the strings, and yes making sure the blade is flat.



What do they teach classical guitarists? There must be some similarities. Honestly I'm too burned on the topic to research further, I chose my path and will see how it goes. :)


Edited by - sirtwangalot on 09/20/2019 09:03:39

PaulBrown - Posted - 09/20/2019:  14:21:48


@Fretting Fingers, I think you have it just right. Feel it in your soul. Hear it in your heart and head. Play good music. Be thankful to others such as Earl and sound like yourself. Nobody else can!

kjcole - Posted - 09/23/2019:  05:39:35


quote:

Originally posted by sirtwangalot

I think there is some confusion about hitting the strings "flat"



This refers to the blade angle I think.



My focus was getting a slight "upward pluck" on the strings, and yes making sure the blade is flat.



 






I'm not sure that the upward pluck actually happens, at least not with fingerpicks that follow the contour of the fingertip.  Instead as the finger and pick pass through the string the string will get pressed down (and sideways).  You'd have to get under the string to pluck it up and that's just not happening.  And I also think that the straighter the pick the more the string gets pulled sideways (and it will get pulled farther).  (Aside:  Anybody know which pros don't bend their picks to follow their fingertip contour?) 

sirtwangalot - Posted - 09/23/2019:  05:47:31


Anyway, I focused on getting closer to a 90% angle , and staying there.
What I don't want is the "flying finger" thing that can happen, which wastes motion.

As said above, the commonality of good pickers is efficiency, and that's my goal.

pick1936 - Posted - 09/27/2019:  00:14:50


I Ben studying right hand position for. Any years, I like Don Reno,, Red Spurlock,, and Boby Thompson real well. And Butch Robbins. Now Don Reno's style of single string flow a little different, But great Right hand.

From Greylock to Bean Blossom - Posted - 09/27/2019:  04:27:13


quote:

Originally posted by warpdrive

Kelly,

You make a point, and there is no better reference than the video on the previous page and one of my fav's that i watched all my life, and his....Doug Dillard playing Hickory Hollow.



Listen at his tone, and there are some good close up's of his hands. Now Doug was tall and lanky, and his hands reflect that, but his contact with those strings and the power and tone was never un-mistakable. I've always loved the different tones that a banjo can produce, and for me, Doug Dillard's tone that he was able to produce from his weapon of choice...a arch top banjo, he was the king of tone on a arch top!



I rediscovered the other day, something that still astounds me, and even though we are all mostly, paying tribute to Earl and his tone, and granted, i've never tried to copy the legend i'm about to reference, but i find it hard to find another recording or example in banjo, of incredible banjo tone, and string striking and speed......lord, lord.....listen to JD Crowe on Jimmy Martins Album, were he does, Bugle Call Rag, or as listed on the track as ....Crowe On The Banjo.....hands down, the best version of that song ever recored, and i don't think can ever be duplicated or there is any other instrumental by any artist that is better, some may come close to being as good, ....but the timing and note separation, borders on "machine like" i wish i could post it, but i lack those computer skills, maybe someone else will do it, but it bears posting on this thread as maybe the best example.



Warp!






youtube.com/watch?v=f6KFNPF56SQ

From Greylock to Bean Blossom - Posted - 09/28/2019:  13:33:44


FWIW,



Here is Earl playing FMB at 45% speed with Amazing Slow Downer and JD doing the same with Crowe on The Banjo.



 



 


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