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Charlie Poole

Posted by majikgator on Friday, October 31, 2008

i pretty much stick with clawhammer, but i am interested in Charlie Pooles style of playin as well, i used to play i think "something" like that is there any tab out there that could help me learn a tune or two in his style--thanks-- jim k

6 comments on “Charlie Poole”

Bisbonian Says:
Saturday, August 13, 2011 @8:01:05 AM

I read an interesting article about it recently; I'll have to see if I can figure out where it was. But what I remember is that he almost always played in "Standard C", or whatever you want to call it; gCGBD. Lots of moveable chord shapes, some simple patterns (rolls, if you will), and a few little licks he threw in all the time, with pinches. He's a big hereo of mine, and one of these days I am going to make an effort to learn his style.

Pete Seeger's banjo book has a ton of chord shapes for that tuning, going well up the neck, that might be helpful. And Kinney Rorrer (who I believe is Poole's grand-nephew, and grandson of his fiddler, Posey Rorrer) plays one of Poole's old banjos, in Poole's style...watching him might be helpful, too:

majikgator Says:
Saturday, August 13, 2011 @8:44:41 AM

Actually a fiddle guitar virtuoso pal of mine just sent me that video and i had gotten that far, like you clawhammer keeps me so usy i hardly have time for these other styles and based on how bad my CH playing still is maybe i should up pick more just to save the world from more bad CH playing(i'm always hard on myself). Paul Brown is my current hero, Mike Seeger having passed ocer.

Mulehead Boy Says:
Saturday, July 28, 2012 @7:30:12 PM

Hello Jim,
I play a nice sounding version of Charlie Poole's Milwaukee Blues in clawhammer style. I basically follow the melody closely with down picking and sing the lyrics. I would be happy to share it with you.


writerrad Says:
Tuesday, May 12, 2020 @10:40:25 AM

Poole's predominant banjo style was what is now called the classic three finger banjo style, but accurately is called the guitar banjo style. It was the dominant style for popular music banjo performance in the late 19th century and early 20th century. It is pretty much what you would have been taught if you bought a banjo in 1900 and went to a music store teacher. It was deeply popular in ragtime and was the predominant style used by late 19th and early 20th century show business banjoists. Dave Macon who learned most from such banjoists played mostly in that style until his arthritis got too bad for it in the 1940s, Poole wanted to record much more broadway style popular music and ragtime hits, and wanted to do extended banjo instrumentals in that style like Fred Van Eps has recorded in the 1910s but the record company was not interested. On most of the Carolina Ramblers records pool is playing in Drop C the pete seeger tuning. He mainly indicates the rhythm by moving a barre chord up and down the neck usually above the 5th fret and seems to play a lot of rolls, and grabs. The style is designed for playing rhythm in a band, and sounds weird without a lead instrument or guitar. Except for one or two classic banjo instrumentals, we have no idea of how Poole played solo banjo.

writerrad Says:
Tuesday, May 12, 2020 @10:42:27 AM

In Poole's bands the banjo had the most boring regular part, although perhaps this set the rhythm. He did sing most of the tunes they recorded as well. The fiddler and his great guitarist, Roy Harvey did most of the interesting picking

writerrad Says:
Tuesday, May 12, 2020 @10:50:18 AM

I find that if I want to play poole type music solo on the banjo, I usually play 2 or 3 three finger style, with some rolls and grabs. His rhythm really isnt good for clawhammer. Earl Scruggs grew up in an area of North and South Carolina near where Poole was from and was a mill worker like Poole. His 3 finger style of banjo really evolved from combining what he had learned at home playing 2 finger style and finger style guitar with area banjo players, some of who recorded, who like Poole used classic banjo styles to play old time music. The trick to Poole which I played a lot on guitar before I bought a banjo is the time is almost always a kind of weak ragtime time very similar to slower bluegrass, rather than other old time music. Someone listening to Poole in the 20s or 30s would have thought of him as a blast from the past of Ragtime as much as anything else.

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