Posted by banjopogo on Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I started playing banjo at age 18 when I found a Vega banjo for $100, and I was teaching guitar at a music store. I took somewhere around 4 to 6 banjo lessons, and learned 2 and 1/2 songs. Then I fell in love with clawhammer, and played that for many years- still do.
I've been taking my fiddle and guitar to Bluegrass jams a lot for the last 5 years, and it finally occurred to me to buy a thumbpick, put the fingerpicks I had tried using for clawhammer on the RIGHT way and give Scruggs-style banjo another shot.
Today I got out the banjo, tuned it to A (it's a short neck travel banjo), and started in on it.
I can still remember both parts of Cripple Creek, and the one part of Foggy Mountain Breakdown I learned.
It really wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.
First goal is to get what I already know down smooth enough to play in public.
I figure if my picking is accurate on those, I should be much more ready for whatever else I choose to learn.
I perform with fiddle, clawhammer banjo and guitar up to 3 times a week, and I'm sure they'd enjoy Cripple Creek and Foggy Mountain Breakdown.
Once I get those going and flowing, I'll try some other easily recognizable standards, probably from tab.
I don't see me STOPPING clawhammer, but Scruggs style is just very well known and has a lot of appeal, it just doesn't make sense NOT to use the good start I made, even it WAS 42 years ago.
Some factors that are making Scruggs style more appealing now than it was:
I had a mid-life crisis blues guitar interest, and turned a pretty meager start I'd made playing lead guitar into a decent ability to play lead and jam with electric guitar. It also taught me a lot about blue notes and syncopation- that part of Bluegrass never made sense to me- well, now it does- PLUS I learned how to improvise, so that aspect makes sense too. So I find myself enjoying Bluegrass music more than ever before, and I REALLY enjoy a good Scruggs-style banjo break.
Eventually I'll need to get a G-scale banjo for bluegrass, but for now, the Hohner Travel banjo works and is sounding good.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @4:55:27 AM
I started Scruggs style as well, about 40 years ago, but switched to Claw'...Never learned much 'up the neck' stuff since my fingers were kinda stiff, and I really didn't have the dicsiplin to work through it. Past couple of years I been doing more Scruggs even though my fingers are more stiff now than 40 years ago...I guess now it would be good therapy if I worked 'up the neck'...LOL
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