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5th string capo...

Posted by newbanjomom on Thursday, November 30, 2006

OK folks,

I've been at this banjo thing for about 2 weeks and I'm clueless!  I love this instrament and I love just letting my fingers make the music it's relaxing to practice rolls and try try again to play cripple creek along with Earl Scruggs on the CD.  But I read about his pounding in a hair pin for a 5th string capo?!?!  Isn't there a clip on capo out there or do I really have to take it in and get a permanent 5th string capo INSTALLED?

Thank y'all for this awesome site.  I've learned so much just lookin' and readin'.  I never knew you could download tablidite or whatever it's called and then look at it and have the computer play it if you can't figure it out.  This is some unbelieveable technology!  I'm havin' a ball with it!  This is the coolest thing I've done with my computer since learning how to download and e-mail digital pictures to the folks!  However, lunchtime calls and the kids are howling.

Thank for this site, too cool.


4 comments on “5th string capo...”

joebok Says:
Friday, December 1, 2006 @12:11:36 AM

Most people, or at least many, will use HO scale railroad spikes as hold downs.  I would not be surprised if you already have one for the 5th fret.  There is a picture here:

You can get all kinds of crazy 5th sting capo systems - many involve a lot more installation than those little spikes.  There is lots to learn and play before you will ever need to capo your 5th string - I'd strongly recommend waiting and seeing before worrying too much about it one way or another.

ArtfulDodger Says:
Friday, December 1, 2006 @2:24:13 PM

Hi Valerie,

Don't wait too long to start working with a capo because much of the tablature you find - including beginner's books - say "capo 2" or "capo 4."  Trying to play these pieces without a capo makes some of the left hand fingerings more difficult when playing with open strings.  I say this because I believe they are written to be played with capos.  I am constantly moving or removing the capos on my banjo when performing and practicing according to the requirements of each song.

Regarding which 5th string capo to have installed on your banjo, I vote for the Shubb sliding capo.  It seems that the banjo playing world is divided between spikers and sliders - you're either one or the other, and they will defend their positions to the bitter end!!!  :)  I've never used spikes so I have nothing against them.

If you like your computer to help learn the banjo, you might want to check out  Jay has instructional ebooks you can download with tablature along with MP3s that you can play along with.  (You'll need a capo!)  There's a lot of free stuff, too.

Good luck in your playing and I hope I've helped you here. 

BTW, what a beautiful family!



newbanjomom Says:
Sunday, December 3, 2006 @9:55:15 PM

Lee and Joe,

Thank you both for your perspectives!  Looks like this is a long argued conundrum that has the banjo world split evenly down the middle.  My husband and I are traveling to Nashville soon and to The Opry so If I get a chance to ask a question to Little Jimmy Dickins it'll be about the 5th string capo!  We are very excited and that has been fueling my practice.  The spikes sound easy but I'm petrified to put holes in my banjo, just looking at the installation website makes me cringe -foreceps?!?...  The sliding capo sounds official and reliable and possibly obtrusive.  I wish there was a clip on capo like the one on the neck that dampens the four lower strings.  Like I said, I go to Nashville in a little over a week and I'll get the tie breaker while I'm there.  Thanks again for your advice this is a tough question.

joebok Says:
Tuesday, December 19, 2006 @4:16:23 PM

I didn't quite realize there was such a rift in the banjo world about 5th string capos!  Maybe it's a regional thing... but anyway, I was browsing an Elderly catalog a friend lent me the other day and came across this which reminded me of your blog - it may be the 3rd option you were looking for, though I have never tried such a contraption: reagon 5th string capo  It looks like it will let you capo without any modification to the banjo at all!

P.S. Even though I am an experienced wood worker, I would not install my own spikes - around here (Seattle) I can get them installed for $10 or less by a pro.

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