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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: tremolo on the tenor

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:

seand44 - Posted - 04/23/2007:  17:30:29

I'm a five string player but I'm wokring on learning the tenor. Tremolo's have got me stimied. Does anyone have any suggestions for practice tips on getting better at this?


Tim2723 - Posted - 04/23/2007:  21:06:47

Angle the pick. Hold it loosely but near the tip. Don't be shy. Practice near the bridge but work your way outward.

P.S. Start on a mandolin. It's actually easier on that. I'm not being a wiseguy, it really is easier.

You don't have to be loud. Just be so good that everybody shuts up and listens.

Edited by - Tim2723 on 04/23/2007 21:09:15

mikeyes - Posted - 04/23/2007:  21:18:24


What style of tenor banjo are wanting to play? Tremolo is not one of the first things that you usually learn with the tenor in any style. If you are interested in Irish banjo, it is hardly ever used but there is a thing called a triplet or treble that is an ornament related distantly to the tremolo.

Even with mandolin, which uses tremolo extensively, tremolo is learned later on after basics are learnt.

Mike Keyes

Tim2723 - Posted - 04/23/2007:  21:22:53

Mike said that much better. Even on a mandolin it's not a beginner's technique. I was trying to tell you to have patience and try some tricks, but if you're just starting out, there's a lot more that needs your attention at first. Sorry if I sounded like a wiseguy or something.

You don't have to be loud. Just be so good that everybody shuts up and listens.

seand44 - Posted - 04/23/2007:  23:34:52

I actually purchased a CD course on the tenor banjo that more or less drops that in there after you've learned a few songs. The songs that are in the course are the typical american tenor banjo songs ("yes sir, that's my baby," " the world is waiting for the sunrise," and so on.) In practical application I'm attempting to insert the tenor banjo into some fiddle tunes that are part of our weekly jam session (that may move ot pubs or coffee shops if things get a little tighter.)

Actually the advice and thoughts from both of you are very helpful. It's reassuring that this is an advanced technique, hence my not being able to immediately get it. And the advice on angling the pick is what I was hoping for. My brother (also part of our jam session) is a mandolin player, and when I suggested that tremolo might be easier on the mandolin he looked irritated and commented on how many long hours of practice it required before he could do it.


Tim2723 - Posted - 04/24/2007:  10:29:29

I think I hear what you're saying Sean. I'm not surprised by your brother's reaction. Even on a mandolin the techinique is difficult to master, and the mandolin is built for the job. The low tension, long, single strings of a banjo are especially challenging. Tremolo is often used as a brief ornament on guitar or banjo, but it's fundimental to mandolin playing. The short, taught, double strings actually make it easier. Doesn't sound like it would, but it does.

Is your tutorial suggesting that you tremolo single strings or whole chords? There's a common technique in tenor banjo that shows up all the time in 'American' styles like ragtime and dixieland where you play a tripplet or a series of four really fast strokes on whole chords. Is that what the CD is trying to show you? I'm trying to determine if your tutorial is talking about honest-to-goodness tremolo or if they are using the term to describe something else.

You don't have to be loud. Just be so good that everybody shuts up and listens.

Edited by - Tim2723 on 04/24/2007 10:39:27

seand44 - Posted - 04/24/2007:  11:55:03

The song that i'm working on now has tremolo on whole chords, although it is at times only on two or three strings at a time. It actually is a tremolo, not the short dixieland triplets. Check this guy out on this youtube link, what he's doing at the beginning is what i'm talking about.


billmill22 - Posted - 04/24/2007:  13:21:59

Check out my page: You can see how to hold the pick to tremolo and a couple sound samples.
I forgot I had this video; it will let you see how I use the example of the "fingers down" tremolo technique.
"Where there is a Tu-ba-phone Banjo,
there you will find musical happiness."

Edited by - billmill22 on 04/24/2007 15:08:13

seand44 - Posted - 04/24/2007:  18:44:46

Cool! Thanks!


Tim2723 - Posted - 04/24/2007:  21:50:20

Thanks Sean, I thought that was what you meant. Angle your pick, and you can also play around with the bevel. I like a thicker pick for this, but that's just me.

You don't have to be loud. Just be so good that everybody shuts up and listens.

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