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 Playing Advice: All Other Styles

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Mad Hornet - Posted - 02/13/2020:  06:13:53

Hello. I recently picked up the book Blues Banjo by Fred Sokolow. I have been playing Scruggs style for a bit over a year now and getting into the book it's unclear if it is intended for use with finger picks or flat pick or neither? Anyone here know? Thank you!

janolov - Posted - 02/13/2020:  07:10:40

I associate Fred Molokow as a Bluegrass player, so an advanced guess is that he use some kind of Scruggs style to play Blues. That means that he use finger picks just as in Scruggs style, but playing without picks should be no problem: you get a another sound but it is the same music and it is still Blues.

Also read this article in Banjo Newsletter:

Edited by - janolov on 02/13/2020 07:14:04

Old Hickory - Posted - 02/13/2020:  09:46:34


Originally posted by Mad Hornet

... getting into the book it's unclear if it is intended for use with finger picks or flat pick or neither? Anyone here know? Thank you!

The tab at the linked page on BNL site is definitely 3-finger.  In that particular song, there's not much Scruggs style picking going on, but it's still 3-finger with finger picks.

Good luck!

conic - Posted - 02/13/2020:  10:43:35

fred plays everything in all


Mad Hornet - Posted - 02/13/2020:  11:15:39

Thank you all!

northernbelle - Posted - 02/13/2020:  11:38:09

Thanks for the link. I just ordered this book after reading the Banjo Newsletter article Jan linked above and after learning of it's existence from Mad Hornet. Be interested to hear what you think of it after you have had some time working with it.

northernbelle - Posted - 02/16/2020:  15:56:17

Mad Hornet,

I tried Scruggs rolls and more guitar-ish double thumbing with pinches in place of strums. (I like the aggressive sound more than the strums in some places) and brought it into the Scruggs style zone a bit more.

Depending on the tune/lesson one would either feel easier to play Scruggs-ish or another would feel more natural to me, to double thumb.

Some  pages felt like they needed more of an old time approach to 3 finger picking which fits the period/feel better. But...I'm lst trying to incorporate a scruggs 3 finger/melodic approach whenever I can to get things to move into my melodic attempts.

I'm also trying to decide which finger is most efficient for the barres, trying to keep to my standard middle/ring finger as in my Scruggs practice, jammig, but sometimes the book's tunes feel more natural to use the index as I do when playing guitar.

Hopefully that helps?

I'm going to have to get out a ruler and pencil and add the rythym stems to the tab though! It's tiresome to keep an eye on both staves.

It would be fun to have the author do another book with more complex lead versions similar to "So Long" in G.

I found the sound clips to be surprisingly dull/  lifeless though , without much punch, drive, dynamics/feel, emotive qualities... Understood that it's a tutor, but those could have been a bit more "blues-y" to "sell it" better... still, a good, fun intro to the blues on banjo.

Edited by - northernbelle on 02/16/2020 16:03:02

rcc56 - Posted - 02/16/2020:  16:12:43

A practical answer is that a lot of blues stuff can be played either with or without picks.

Lew H - Posted - 02/17/2020:  12:18:48

Some faster blues work great with clawhammer also, but Sokolow doesn't do that. Michael Miles may have some instructional stuff on clawhammer blues. He did a session on blues at a banjo camp a few years back.

Eric A - Posted - 02/17/2020:  12:52:59

I bought this book but haven't done much with it yet. One quick flip through gave me the impression that it's main goal is to teach the main blues scales and progressions, and then I'm assuming it's up to the reader to employ that knowledge in their own style. I could be totally wrong though.

conic - Posted - 02/17/2020:  13:15:24

Lew Hendrix does a great of mojo hand. i put this video on every year when i do my annual tax returns because i always have the blues then every time the mojo seems to work on me because its the taxman which owes me a refund, thanks Lew

northernbelle - Posted - 02/17/2020:  18:41:18

Thanks Conic, that Lew Hendrix version was great, soulful.

Lew H - Posted - 02/18/2020:  14:52:06

@conic. northernbelle You might have missed this mp3 where some local blues and rock musicians asked me to lay a banjo track for "Rollin' and Tumblin'" on a CD they were putting together.   (I guess all musicians are local to somewhere!)

Edited by - Lew H on 02/18/2020 15:06:15

conic - Posted - 02/18/2020:  15:48:06

very good Lew, not many can make good blues on the banjo but Lew is one that has the mojo working

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