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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Rasgueado on the 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:

Mirek Patek - Posted - 02/22/2007:  04:44:36

Attempting to adapt the Spanish Guitar...

[edit: and CUATRO strumming - search youtube e.g. for "Hernan Gamboa", "Carlos Capacho" or "la siembra del cuatro"]

... to banjo...

[edit: without putting down your TIM fingerpicks!]

... one has to solve how to emulate the rasgueado stroke - brush of fanned bare right hand fingers. For those wearing fingerpicks on T, I, M (the IM fingerpicks being normal, so NOT allowing downpicking) the theoretically possible strokes by right hand fingers are: T(down), T(up), I(up), M(up), R(down), R(up), Little(down), L(up).

From these options I have chosen T(down) I(up) M(up) plus the ring fingernail executing downbrush. The rasgueado burst is then plucked by R(down) I(up) M(up). For continuous rasgueado pattern I add the thumb(down) so I got TRIM TRIM or some of its rotation - RIMT RIMT or preferably MTRI MTRI with R on the upbeat.

[edit: The TRIM pattern has four notes. Three note pattern is either above described RIM or the roll of T(down) R(down) I(up) or some of its rotation. Two note pattern is most often TI or RI.]

The bare ring finger could also perform upbrush, but as it does not wear fingerpick it is way shorter than M finger (at least in my case). So I cannot play (yet?) fluently the continuous pattern R(down) I(up) M(up) R(up) RIMR RIMR.

How do you play rasgueado?


Edited by - Mirek Patek on 03/29/2008 16:17:17

Will Dorward - Posted - 02/23/2007:  11:09:01


That is interesting. I hope someone chimes in to answer your question, because I am guitar player starting to learn banjo, and I can't help but try some guitar-like strums and picking on the banjo. (Although I really am trying to get the clawhammer picking style down).


Yopparai - Posted - 02/23/2007:  12:26:50

On guitar, I play it poorly and probably incorrectly. *grin*

If you have the nails for Spanish guitar, I would be inclined to dispense with the picks and use them. In CH I have used - probably inappropriately - a Rasgueado-esque strum.

Never could stand wearing finger pick when playing guitar. While they may be 'required' for bluegrass, I don't see why you would have to wear them for something like this, unless, of course, you are wanting to keep the harder edge you get with picks.

scotty22 - Posted - 02/24/2007:  01:30:17

I play a bit of flamenco guitar, clawhammer banjo, and have always maintained my nails for nylon-string guitar and preferred playing with nails on any instrument. That said, I recently I acquired a dobro, and while I occasionally play three-finger style with picks on banjo, I now exclusively employ fingerpicks with this dobro. I clash on the metal resonator cover which sounds terrible, but with these medium-gauge strings and the sound I get using picks, I'm reluctant to use nails and risk breaking them as I attack the dobro with chutzpah. I've never had the inspiration to employ a full flamenco-style rasqueado on banjo, but do oftentimes use a single-finger brush on several strings. Maybe you're innovating something.

Edited by - scotty22 on 02/24/2007 01:36:23

oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 02/24/2007:  02:30:32

A suggestion from a one-time flamenco guitarist.

A modified thumb-triplet rasqueado. This is usually done with the middle finger but it can be done with the ring finger for those using picks. The three strokes would be:

Thumb/Up, Ring/Down, Thumb/Down.

All strokes are of equal duration. The key to the roll is that the thumb does not actualy move, but is held out at roughly 45 degrees to the arm. The stroke is made with a quarter turn of the wrist -clockwise for Up and counter-clockwise for Down.
The finger stroke is a standard downstroke from the third knuckle - like most flamenco rasqueado strokes. This roll can reach very high speeds and is actually easier to keep in smooth rhythm than the five stroke rasqueados.
The key to high speed is practicing very slowly until it is fully working, before going to a higher speed.

The Whiskey Before Breakfast variations and a few tunes in "F" tuning are now available on the web at:

Mirek Patek - Posted - 03/29/2008:  11:22:04

For the simpliest galloping strumming rhythm the thumb is not needed at all. Try this example (with all your fingerpicks on place, M and I do upbrush, bare Ring fingernail does downbrush).

 |   |_| |   |_| |   |_| |   |
 I   R I M   R I M   R I M   R

 |   |_| |   |_| |   |_| |   |
 I   R I M   R I M   R I M   R
There are just three strings shown, but of course you will barre all four.

[edit: To enrich this pattern the thumb can play some bass line on the beats - in that case it would play pinch together with M.]

Note that the RIM burst is used in such a way that the main note (on the beat) is the last one, played by M. In other situations (like in the topic ) the RIM burst can be used as "triplet" substitute for one or two notes, then the main note (on the beat) is the first one played by R.


Edited by - Mirek Patek on 03/30/2008 09:49:48

deuceswilde - Posted - 03/29/2008:  15:10:31

I can't see any reason why you can't use all of your skills from playing spanish guitar. "Guitar style" banjo, played finger-style like a classical guitar has been a valid style for the banjo from way back in the late 1850s (it predated the modern form of "old time" and bluegrass). Seems to me that your fingerpicks might be holding you back.


The greater the emergency, or the greater the stakes, the greater the nerve required.

-S. W. Erdnase 21:13

Mirek Patek - Posted - 03/29/2008:  15:56:54

Originally posted by deuceswilde

I can't see any reason why you can't use all of your skills from playing spanish guitar. ... Seems to me that your fingerpicks might be holding you back.
The reason is that I do not want to put fingerpicks on and off between (or even during) the songs. I am aware of [the existence of] classical banjo styles played by bare fingers, but I like the power of fingerpicks.

In the same time I see the unused potential of bare ring finger, which can bring me towards the frailed banjo, folk banjo or uke-banjo sounds while my fingerpicks are still on place. That is why I explore this field rather than the field of fourth fingerpick on the ring finger.


Mirek Patek - Posted - 03/30/2008:  10:10:01

The above shown pattern with eight notes before odd beat
quarter notes (RI before M) can be practiced in these steps:

1) Quarter note strum played by index fingerpick upbrush
and ring fingernail downbrush

-0---0---0---0--| repeat
 |   |   |   |
 I   R   I   R

2) Second quarter note (R) is replaced by two eight notes (R, I)
followed by third quarter note, which is played by middle
fingerpick upbrush instead of index finger

-0---0-0-0---0--| repeat
 |   |_| |   |
 I   R I M   R

3) Note that if the odd beat is preceded by quarter note R,
it is played by I

-0---0-0-0---0--|0---0-0-0---0--| repeat
 |   |_| |   |   |   |_| |   |
 I   R I M   R   I   R I M   R

4) However if the odd beat is preceded by two eight notes R I,
it is played by M

-0---0-0-0---0-0|0---0-0-0---0--| repeat
 |   |_| |   |_| |   |_| |   |
 I   R I M   R I M   R I M   R

Edited by - Mirek Patek on 03/30/2008 10:11:37

Mirek Patek - Posted - 04/13/2008:  04:43:41

5/4 rhythm can be strummed by several patterns, e.g.:

a) TIRIM (thumbpick down, indexpick up, ringnail down, indexpick up, middlepick up)
b) TITRI and its rotation TRITI

Especially in the latter two patterns one has to stick with 5/4 rhythm in mind and not to slip to 6/4 rhythm by playing T-ITRI or TRIT-I. Other way round - all these 5/4 patterns can work in 6/4 rhythm by adding a pause after some note (try to place the pause to different positions in the measure).

Here is rhythm excercise which keeps regular first beat with thumb and fills the (equally long) measures with different number of brushes (without pauses). Of course the measures could be chained in whatever way.


Edited by - Mirek Patek on 04/13/2008 23:39:09

Mirek Patek - Posted - 04/13/2008:  23:38:41

You can develop the fluency of the 5/4 TIRIM pattern also through the 4/4 TIRI pattern (thumbpick down, indexpick up, ringnail down, indexpick up), to which you add the upbrush by middle fingerpick:


Or, sticking with 4/4 rhythm, you can switch between TIRI and TRIM patterns:

Edited by - Mirek Patek on 04/14/2008 00:31:33

Tom Hanway - Posted - 04/14/2008:  03:47:57

Yo, Mirek, I'm too busy with projects to get inside this, but thank you brother, I'll come back for this one. You're my favourite genius. Totally fecking awesome. That's Gaelic.


Happy pickin',


Mirek Patek - Posted - 04/21/2008:  22:47:27

Thanks, Tom, for your kind words. Regular involvement of ring finger nail seems to be uncommon technique in fingerpicking banjo players, but it seems that in guitar world are some players who mastered it.

Amazing strumming job (and more) with thumbpick and index+middle fingerpicks does Bob Brozman on his National guitar - search him on YouTube.

His hand is so fast that I am not able to figure out whether he uses thumbpick also for up-strums, fingerpicks also for down-strums or whether he strums with his bare fingers (ring, little finger) too.

Any findings from better eyes and ears?


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