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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Scooped Neck Practice


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/364882

WHTTW - Posted - 06/12/2020:  14:46:43


My Deering has a scooped neck. I like the way it sounds playing high on the neck but my accuracy is way off. I may have developed a heavy hand on my old savannah banjo and that definitely doesn't help playing up the neck. What do you think? Keep going at it or should I not worry about a different technique and lay the foundation where my hand feels more comfortable?

Rand - Posted - 06/12/2020:  15:49:31


Play where you are comfortable and relaxed. Some players develop the capacity of playing anywhere they choose, based on the different sound they get. Although that is impressive, I would say to first find a comfortable, natural position, and worry about it later.

John Gribble - Posted - 06/12/2020:  16:12:20


Give yourself some time and play slowly enough you can hit the strings accurately and consitantly. The rest of it will come.

Loud_Inn - Posted - 06/12/2020:  17:34:50


I agree with the above comments. There is slightly less distance between strings above the scoop then there is down near the bridge. The slight change in distance is probably what's throwing you off a bit.
As others have said just take it slow. One thing you might want to try is just striking each string, one at a time, and doing a thumb rest on the 5th string. This will help map out the distance between strings in the new position.

banjered - Posted - 06/12/2020:  17:48:30


Part of the tools in the Clawhammer tool box is to be able to clobber the strings in a variety of ways according to the sound you want to elicit, soft, hard, loud, spare, it'll all come with time. Enjoy the ride. banjered

banjukebox - Posted - 06/12/2020:  18:03:40


If you like the way the banjo sounds when you play over the scoop, an easy way to make it more comfortable to play there is to take the banjo out of your lap and put it on your right thigh. Grip the edge of the rim with your armpit and bring your frailing hand up to the scoop area with your arm more parallel to the strings. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you get used to it, it works well.

doryman - Posted - 06/12/2020:  18:31:48


When I'm playing over the head, I'm grounded in space, anchored, by my frailing finger (my middle finger), that often hits the head on the down stroke, and by my thumb and the heel of my hand that also lightly graze the head on the other side of the strings. I can see the rub marks on the head of my banjo where this happens.



When I'm way over my failing scoop, it all air on either side...no thumb, heel or middle finger hitting the head, no anchor. For a long time, when I first started playing over the neck, I felt way less accurate because I didn't have that grounding...that frame of reference. It kind of went away with more practice, but I still feel more in control, and I can play faster over the head. I guess it may be analogous to anchoring your little finger and your ring finger when you play Scruggs style. Maybe that's happening to you too.



I know many clawhammer players thrive to not strike or touch the head of the banjo, but it's a habit I've developed over the years, I like the percussiveness of it and, judging from the rub marks I see on the banjo heads of other players, I'm not the only one.


Edited by - doryman on 06/12/2020 18:32:31

WHTTW - Posted - 06/20/2020:  10:19:40


quote:

Originally posted by banjukebox

If you like the way the banjo sounds when you play over the scoop, an easy way to make it more comfortable to play there is to take the banjo out of your lap and put it on your right thigh. Grip the edge of the rim with your armpit and bring your frailing hand up to the scoop area with your arm more parallel to the strings. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you get used to it, it works well.






Thanks for the tip. Just saw this demonstrated in one of dan Levonson's videos. Makes sense. I see your in Anacortes, WA. Cool! Any recommendations on where to hear some old time string music in the PNW? In NC I was fortunate enough to live next to "The Jones House" in Boone. People played together every Thursday night. 

banjukebox - Posted - 06/20/2020:  11:18:46


Lots of venues in Seattle occasionally feature old time bands. If your looking to play as well, here are some suggestions:



Canotes' Stringband Class



Oly Oldtime Festival



Fiddle Tunes



Portland Old Time music Gathering - 



Centralia Campout



Weiser



Zig Zag



Mud City



Subdued Stringband Jamboree



Local Jams - If you're just starting out, Josh Larios' "Slower than Dirt" Jam is a good one to look into.



 



 

AndyW - Posted - 06/20/2020:  12:17:40


The other thing putting the pot on your right thigh does is make things much easier on the left arm.

I would just play where your hand falls naturally. Further down the line, it'll be easier to introduce changes from your norm.

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