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clawhammer Vs. Scruggs Style

Monday, October 8, 2007

The banjo is one of the most recognizable instrument in Bluegrass music.  It’s twangy, rhythmic sound stands out among the softer guitar, base and fiddle.  This five stringed instrument has a unique sound depending on the style of the instrumentalist.  Clawhammer, a form of playing the banjo, is recognized as the original method. Where as, Scruggs style did not come about until the early 1900’s.  The two styles create totally different sounds from the instrument.  Even the way each technique is played differs greatly.

Clawhammer is completely different from Scruggs style because how it originated, the way it sounds and the way it is played. 

          Clawhammer began when an African slave created an instrument by stretching a pig skin over a turtle shell, inserting a maple branch for a neck and using horse hair for strings.  “The banjo did not make it to America until the seventeenth century.”  (Meier)  Clawhammer was the way the African slaves played. (Siegal)  The man that turned the banjo from a slave music maker to a popular white instrument was Joel Sweeny.  Sweeny played the Clawhammer style that he learned from the slaves owned by his father.  His public performances were popular with the culture of the early 1800’s.  Bluegrass style on the other hand did not come along until the nineteenth


(Honeyman, 2)


century when Europeans applied their guitar picking technique to playing the banjo.  The new style became extremely popular when Earl Scruggs applied his own hot licks and rolls, giving us the sound we are familiar with today. 


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Playing Since: 2005
Experience Level: Novice

[Jamming] [Socializing] [Helping]

Occupation: student/ chemical engineer

Gender: Male
Age: 34

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scruggs (legend)

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Created 2/25/2007
Last Visit 5/23/2011

i mostly play for freinds and family, but one time in branson, my family and i were at a resturant and i got on stage with the performer and played dueling banjos. whose tab igot from this site!

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