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Apr 12, 2008 - 4:05:02 PM
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17269 posts since 6/13/2003

I'm making this a sticky so's to cover some of the newbie questions that recur again and again. This is the place to input your say on such questions as

* index or middle?
* What is OT as as opposed to BG? Classic? Jazz?
* What other kinds of OT besides CH are there?
* Why do OT players use so many different tunings?
* What's Seeger-style?
* What, if anything, is the difference between frailing and clawhammer?

That's for starters. Feel free to contribute your own and/or reject some of the above if they don't seem especially appropriate. Also feel free to disagree, politely, with someone else's advice. We want all legitimate points of view represented here.

Jessy

Frailaway, ladies, frailaway!

Apr 12, 2008 - 4:56:19 PM

carteru93

Canada

5365 posts since 12/14/2006

Different Banjo Tunings
Head Tension Technique
Finger Planting
BEGINNER BANJOS

____________________________________
Pick till yer fingers bleed!!

Gold Star GF-200/Hatfield

Apr 12, 2008 - 5:25:40 PM

4673 posts since 9/21/2007

Don't forget "stroke style."

-Joel

The greater the emergency, or the greater the stakes, the greater the nerve required.

-S. W. Erdnase 21:13

Apr 12, 2008 - 6:00:44 PM

8099 posts since 3/17/2005

"What, if anything, is the difference between frailing and clawhammer?"
=============================================================
I think this is another one that has as many answers as there are OT pickers. Today I've been re-reading John Burke's book. In describing Hobart Smith's playing of Chinkapin Pie he says: "You should notice that notes which would be 'pull off' notes in the frailing style are gotten here by combinations of the middle finger and thumb. This tendency to get note runs with 'double thumbing' instead of 'pulling off' is the essential difference between clawhammer style and frailing".
So that's what John Burke thought in the 60's anyway.



**********************
Take what is given
Give what is taken

Chip Arnold

Edited by - chip arnold on 04/12/2008 18:49:18

Apr 12, 2008 - 7:00:25 PM

8099 posts since 3/17/2005

"What other kinds of OT besides CH are there?"
===========================================
So called Seeger style. (I say "so called" because it was around long before Seeger).
2-finger index lead.
2-finger thumb lead.
3-finger.
Classical.
Stroke.
Countless eveolutionary stop offs and varients of each of the above.

**********************
Take what is given
Give what is taken

Chip Arnold

Apr 12, 2008 - 8:18:24 PM

17269 posts since 6/13/2003

* Is double-thumbing the same as drop-thumbing?

Some people use it that way--Pete Seeger did in his book--but others use double-thumbing to mean hitting the fifth string twice as often as usual and drop-thumb to mean playing with the thumb notes on strings other than the fifth.

* What about frailing and clawhammer? Are they the same?

Some people--most, in fact--use the terms interchangeably, while a few understand clawhammer to mean"drop-thumb." (See Chip Arnold's answer two posts above.)

Jessy

Frailaway, ladies, frailaway!

Edited by - brokenstrings on 04/14/2008 15:52:04

Apr 15, 2008 - 3:19:31 PM
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1223 posts since 12/12/2006

Perhaps what this idea needs is a link to each of the preveous topics instead of trying to deal with each of the topice here. Just link to each subject, there may be several threads per subject, and those threads can come back from the lost subject graveyard and live again You could even have a link to the what CDs to buy thread

Will play Banjo for food, will stop playing banjo for money.

John Switzer
Beulah, Colorado
blackbearforge.com

Apr 15, 2008 - 4:48:17 PM

17269 posts since 6/13/2003

Yeah, but some of those previous topics may be archived &/or hard to find.

Jessy

Frailaway, ladies, frailaway!

Apr 19, 2008 - 5:27:40 PM

441 posts since 11/17/2007

quote:
Originally posted by switzforge

Perhaps what this idea needs is a link to each of the preveous topics instead of trying to deal with each of the topice here. Just link to each subject, there may be several threads per subject, and those threads can come back from the lost subject graveyard and live again You could even have a link to the what CDs to buy thread


Great idea John. If anyone wonders what essential clawhammer to listen to as you learn, they can look here:

banjohangout.org/forum/topic.a...ID=100396

where a really helpful and friendly moderator moved it to product reviews after months in the ch/ot forum.

Rob

Edited by - RedZinger on 04/19/2008 17:28:53

Apr 20, 2008 - 2:22:54 PM
like this

544 posts since 7/7/2003

please be reminded that newbies are newbies and that in my opinion we should not be sending them to the archives before they have had a chance to have their questions answered personally. I never get tired of the questions or the answers that are given. just my cent and a half worth that's all

May 20, 2008 - 7:10:39 AM

313 posts since 11/20/2007

index or middle?

Short answer: yes!

Slightly more useful answer: opinion seems to be fairly evenly divided as to whether to use the index finger or the middle finger for clawhammer, with perhaps a few more proponents of the middle finger. Essentially it comes down to a matter of personal preference - some people even use both fingers in the course of the same tune (switching between them, not playing both at once) although many people recommend against that practice.

Personal answer: I tend to use my index finger most of the time but if I break the nail I often use my middle finger instead.

- Magnus

Edited by - magnuscanis on 05/20/2008 07:18:10

Jul 7, 2008 - 9:27:09 PM

23 posts since 2/21/2005

quote:
Originally posted by brokenstrings

I'm making this a sticky so's to cover some of the newbie questions that recur again and again. This is the place to input your say on such questions as

* index or middle?
* What is OT as as opposed to BG? Classic? Jazz?
* What other kinds of OT besides CH are there?
* Why do OT players use so many different tunings?
* What's Seeger-style?
* What, if anything, is the difference between frailing and clawhammer?

That's for starters. Feel free to contribute your own and/or reject some of the above if they don't seem especially appropriate. Also feel free to disagree, politely, with someone else's advice. We want all legitimate points of view represented here.

Jessy

Frailaway, ladies, frailaway!




I was taught that all the different tunings were/are designed to "minimize" the "fingering" requirements of the left hand. Have you ran across any tablature wherein the tunning was either designed for the melody or the melody was designed for the tuning and the piece was played all "open string?" I have.

Very interesting!

John

Jul 18, 2008 - 7:29:01 AM
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TonyS

USA

647 posts since 7/15/2008

I know this is probably been mentioned a million times -
How about new strings, types of strings, which are good for which style, does it really matter, etc.
I just about got guitar strings down - as a banjo newbi, I dread the first string change!

Nice site by the way!

*****************************************************************************************
Sometimes you''re the windshield, sometimes you''re the bug. - Dire Straits

Jul 18, 2008 - 2:30:07 PM
like this

3845 posts since 11/29/2005

"as a banjo newbi, I dread the first string change! "

First secret: One At A Time!

After that, it's just as easy as changing strings on a guitar, only one less to worry about! And don't forget to lubricate the nut and bridge slots with a little graphite (#2 pencil does nicely) on each string change.

Brad
------------------
PricklyPearMusic.net
ezfolk.com/audio/bands/5/ My ezFolk page
ezfolk.com/audio/bands/3371/ Tucson Old Time Music Circle page on ezFolk
totmc.org Tucson Old Time Music Circle Homepage

Jul 19, 2008 - 4:45:06 AM
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13 posts since 6/26/2008

"What about frailing and clawhammer? Are they the same?"

It's hard to generalize, but here goes: I consider my playing frailing, though I use lots of drop-thumb as well. To my ears, much of the clawhammer I hear emphasizes single string work, whereas frailing seems to use more chords (like Wade Ward's playing). It seems to have a more rhythmic, percussive pulse...

"Index finger or middle...?"

On Pete Seeger's advice, I started with the middle finger, but after awhile found that I got a crisper sound using the index finger (probably from the angle of attack). After having used the middle finger for a number of years, it was easy to switch fingers...Beginners probably should start with one and then experiment with the other after they get the rhythm down.

Tom

Jul 19, 2008 - 9:48:39 AM
likes this

235 posts since 5/30/2007

Hi BrokenStrings,

Another useful topic might be repairing broken fingernails and maintaing nails. I know I've seen a number of threads on this.

Alan
alanfriendmusic.com
------------------------
CD "Had a Dog" available at cdbaby.com

Jul 19, 2008 - 12:33:08 PM

23 posts since 2/21/2005

quote:
Originally posted by brokenstrings

I'm making this a sticky so's to cover some of the newbie questions that recur again and again. This is the place to input your say on such questions as

* index or middle?
* What is OT as as opposed to BG? Classic? Jazz?
* What other kinds of OT besides CH are there?
* Why do OT players use so many different tunings?
* What's Seeger-style?
* What, if anything, is the difference between frailing and clawhammer?

That's for starters. Feel free to contribute your own and/or reject some of the above if they don't seem especially appropriate. Also feel free to disagree, politely, with someone else's advice. We want all legitimate points of view represented here.

Jessy

Frailaway, ladies, frailaway!



For what it's worth, a real old timer (instructor) taught me that Pete Seeger "taught himself" by listening to old 78 rpm records played at 45 or 33-1/3 from the Library of Congress and other sources. He (by guess and by gosh) decided that the picking was being done on the "Up-Stroke" since he did not have an instructor or anyone to clarify this issue. Now this may be an "Urban Legend" I do not know. I was taught the down stroke, of course, using "THE ATOMIC Minstrel Banjo Pick, Nickel-Silver, 26ga Small" my hands are medium so they run large (or they did when I bought my two). My nails are brittle and split, snag, and tear constantly. Without "THE ATOMIC" pick or a similar accoutrement, I would not be able to play clawhammer. I glued little patches of fine sandpaper on the inside of the pick (using cyanoacrylate or super glue) to keep it from falling off the end of my finger (a suggestion from this website, I do believe). A friend of mine tapes his pick or picks on with clear cellophane tape when he plays before an audience for some "Insurance."

Pete Seeger also came up with the use of a neck with three more frets at the "nut" end of the neck to obtain an accompaniment "range" to match his "Baritone" singing range. I guess most everyone knows this by now. Of course putting a capo on the third fret of a "long neck" gives you the standard size Banjo range (22 frets?). I would like to obtain a long neck and learn more about it.

Edited by - jbgruver on 07/21/2008 10:44:13

Jul 21, 2008 - 7:28:41 AM

TonyS

USA

647 posts since 7/15/2008

[quote]Originally posted by banjo_brad

"as a banjo newbi, I dread the first string change! "

First secret: One At A Time!

Thanks Banjop Brad - I thought so - any brand you find best through experience?

********************************************************************************************
Sometimes you''re the windshield, sometimes you''re the bug. - Dire Straits

Aug 15, 2008 - 12:43:12 PM

29 posts since 6/9/2007

INDEX OR MIDDLE..?

i actually use mostly the index, but will throw a hand at the banjo sometimes hitting it with some combination of index, middle, and/or ring to get a sort of what i imagine to be double stop kinda thing. that way it has tones hit simultaneously (6 sylables-dig it)rather than the rake the nail over the strings sorta thing (which is also useful ) it works for my ear, but gets me the squinty eye from the traditional players on occasion. just a thought.

As it was presented to me, thi

Edited by - GShannon on 08/15/2008 12:44:18

Aug 26, 2008 - 10:38:39 PM

17269 posts since 6/13/2003

Index or Middle?

Same here, more or less. Predominantly index finger. Also use the thumb more than the average player, at least when nobody's looking.

Jessy

Frailaway, ladies, frailaway!

Aug 29, 2008 - 10:56:30 PM

1 posts since 8/29/2008

Nice site.Same here, more or less. Predominantly index finger.Thanks for any problem to search Google.


[url=http://www.yishanteashop.com]Green Tea[/url]
[url=http://www.yishanteashop.com]Oolong Tea[/url]
[url=http://www.yishanteashop.com]White Tea[/url]

Sep 4, 2008 - 9:19:09 AM

6 posts since 9/29/2007

Hi Guys
This debate could go on for ever ! Myself, I always use the middle finger, sometimes with a pick but mostly without. However when all is said and done, does it really matter how you do it ? Surely the important thing is to play your banjo and to get the best sound and rhythm you can...........doesn't really matter how you achieve it, just enjoy yourself.
Peter

All the world is a banjo......play it.

Pickin happy !

Sep 4, 2008 - 3:40:17 PM
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KI4PRK

USA

1705 posts since 7/14/2008

quote:
Originally posted by brokenstrings

I
* What other kinds of OT besides CH are there?




There are several different kinds of old time picking other than clawhammer. In fact, one of the primary reasons clawhammer is most popular today because of Pete Seeger and other Folk pickers in the 50's/60's utilized clawhammer or clawhammer-like styles; finger picking has been used for almost as long as the 5-string banjo's been around.

I'll list some of the predominant syles below:

2-finger "Kentucky" or index lead: Supposedly this comes from the WV/KY region. I have nothing to back that up, however; I've commonly heard it referred to as the KY style. This is a fairly simple, 2 finger up-picking style where the index plays the main beats and the thumb (mainly) hits the off beats. I find it bears a strong resemblence to drop-thumb clawhammer. It is often combined with middle finger down brushes, which sounds even more like clawhammer, although not as loud, and with a faster, more driving feel. I think it's used mainly for fiddle tunes, but a more knowledgeable historian would need to answer that question for sure.


2-finger "North Carolina" or thumb-lead: Again, I've heard this called NC style, so I would assume it comes from north carolina, probably from Earl Scruggs' general area. In this 2-finger up-picking style, the thumb plays the "on" beats and the index is the filler with the off beats. I find this works best with ballads and songs, but others may play it differently.
It tends to be slightly simpler than Index-lead (KY) style.


Old-time three finger: Still learning a bit about this one. It sounds a bit like (and undoubtedly influenced) Bluegrass but a bit simpler, with mainly forward, backward, and alternating-thumb rolls (for those who know something about BG banjo). It's easy to figure out why; the alternating roll is the basic drop-thumb clawhammer or 2-finger roll, and it's easy to adapt to the addition of the middle finger. The Forward and backward rolls fall naturally to the fingers as they are just arpeggiated versions of the clench, or pinch. A lot of the melody here, as in 2-finger, tends to be played with simple runs, rather than rolls.
There are many variations on this style. Many rural folk (hillbillies) heard the classical banjo three-finger style (which itself was adapted from classical guitar) and adapted it to their songs, so varying degrees of "high-class" picking have worked their ways into old-time picking.
Earl Scruggs in "Earl Scruggs and the 5-string Banjo" mentions that several good OT 3F-pickers lived near-ish to him.

Clawhammer/frailing-like styles: Many variations of the basic double-thumb, drop-thumb, or bum-ditty clawhammer styles have evolved over the years. So called Seeger-style, made famous by Pete Seeger, and involves picking up on the melody note, then a down brush, is much older and is related to the above KY-2 finger style, although with subtle differences. Mike Seeger (Pete's Half-brother) mentions a very very old african clawhammer style in his DVD series "Southern Banjo Styles", which he called cross-picking. As in basic clawhammer, no brushes are used, and many hammer-ons and pull-offs are used. The index finger picks both up and down on the strings.



Countless other variations exist of all the other styles, and I'm hardly the guy to talk to. I just mentioned what I know, and if I wasn't sure about something I mentioned it. I highly recommend the previously mentioned Mike Seeger DVD set, "Southern Banjo Styles" which I am still watching. It tells a lot about many different styles. Also be sure to ask other players, and read books, if you want to learn as many styles as possible (like me).

73, Brennen KI4PRK age 14

Edited by - KI4PRK on 09/04/2008 15:44:00

Dec 1, 2008 - 7:03:14 PM

25 posts since 12/1/2008

quote:
Originally posted by TonyS

I know this is probably been mentioned a million times -
How about new strings, types of strings, which are good for which style, does it really matter, etc.
I just about got guitar strings down - as a banjo newbi, I dread the first string change!

Nice site by the way!

*****************************************************************************************
Sometimes you''re the windshield, sometimes you''re the bug. - Dire Straits



Agree completely about the site! Who knew?!
So, which string gauge do you prefer for clawhammer style playing? My old bluegrass teacher said to use light gauge. When I bought my open-back, and asked for light gauge, the shop proprietor talked me into medium.

Thought I heard a chicken sneeze....

Dec 3, 2008 - 6:44:11 PM

KI4PRK

USA

1705 posts since 7/14/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Shook Barley

quote:
Originally posted by TonyS

I know this is probably been mentioned a million times -
How about new strings, types of strings, which are good for which style, does it really matter, etc.
I just about got guitar strings down - as a banjo newbi, I dread the first string change!

Nice site by the way!

*****************************************************************************************
Sometimes you''re the windshield, sometimes you''re the bug. - Dire Straits



Agree completely about the site! Who knew?!
So, which string gauge do you prefer for clawhammer style playing? My old bluegrass teacher said to use light gauge. When I bought my open-back, and asked for light gauge, the shop proprietor talked me into medium.

Thought I heard a chicken sneeze....



I've found I like light gauge and medium gauge equally for Bluegrass (they both have their pros and cons) and my banjo is usually in a setup up leaning more towards bluegrass. But when my banjo is equipped with medium gauge, I prefer their slightly louder sound and better resistance against my fingernails.

73, Brennen

Dec 15, 2008 - 2:21:08 PM

323 posts since 7/11/2005

KI4PRK,

do you work CW?

N0XY

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