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Aug 9, 2019 - 5:36:31 PM

26 posts since 7/15/2010

Franck, what style of banjo are you playing? If it is three-finger Scruggs style I don't see how you could bind your fingers together. From what you are describing, especially since you have come back to playing after 20 years, you may have focal dystonia, like me. It has ended my playing, both Scruggs style and clawhammer. You might want to check it out with a neurologist.

Aug 10, 2019 - 1:06:58 AM



2 posts since 8/8/2019

Hello Jeffreynolds,

I (am trying to...) play Scruggs style. I will look what is a focal Dystonia and I hope I could play my brand new banjo.

Thank you for your answer

May 6, 2020 - 7:20:08 PM



102 posts since 4/23/2020

Why not try to play a roll at moderate speed try to change into C then back to G then D to G. Instead of trying to play a Melody. At least you can get both hands coordinated You must crawl before u walk..

May 21, 2020 - 2:47:52 PM

14 posts since 5/20/2020

I clinch my teeth when doing the 2-1-2-1 5-2-1-5 for a world record ........when you figure how to not be a psycho I need this information 

May 21, 2020 - 2:52 PM

14 posts since 5/20/2020

Originally posted by jeffreynolds

Franck, what style of banjo are you playing? If it is three-finger Scruggs style I don't see how you could bind your fingers together. From what you are describing, especially since you have come back to playing after 20 years, you may have focal dystonia, like me. It has ended my playing, both Scruggs style and clawhammer. You might want to check it out with a neurologist.

this is today known as repetitive stress disorder. Carpal tunnel syndrome  is part of this as is tennis elbow, other ulna nerve disorders, and my thumb is what kills me when playing too much. Usually the finger tips let me know when I wake up, but the thumb acts up every time I play now

May 21, 2020 - 10:09:03 PM

26 posts since 7/15/2010

Focal dystonia is very different from the other ailments you mentioned. Those are all located in the muscle or tendon that is affected. Focal dystonia is a neurological condition that is a miscommunication in the brain. It is common among musicians and is believed to be caused by rapid, coordinated movements of the digits or other parts of the body. The brain gets confused and wires the signals together. There does not seem to be a confirmed cause, but this tends to be the generally accepted theory in the neurological community. In my case my right index finger does not work totally independently any longer and bends with my middle finger when doing certain motions or tasks, especially when picking the banjo. The signal to the index finger fires often and firmly, resulting in the finger curling into the palm and it is very difficult to extend it again. This quickly causes fatigue from the cramping. It is considered to be incurable, and the only relief that the medical profession offers is Botox injections that need to be repeated every six weeks or so.

May 29, 2020 - 10:55:06 PM

45 posts since 9/13/2018

Hi Folks, I think I have read all the responses here but please do excuse me if this has been covered. I've been playing around 18 months now. And I have practised a lot and made some headway. Now, I play a Deering Goodtime banjo and noticed the Nickle plating is rubbing off on the armrest. Got me thinking!! ....And my conclusion was that I have tried to gain stability not only from anchoring fingers on the head but pressing too hard on the armrest. This seems to inhibit nerves/ tendons/stuff going to the fingers!! ...
Just a thought.


May 31, 2020 - 10:42:15 PM

829 posts since 8/6/2004

“Our guitar player who is also the lead vocalist occaisionally gets cramping in his hand. The fingers of his left hand will cramp so hard they actually deform and become unmovable. It's so wierd to see when it happens and very painfull for him. When it comes on he can't play at all and has even necessitated us canceling mid way in a gig. Hard to explain to the person that hired us but there's nothing we can do when he gets one of these attacks. He's been to the Dr. and been diagnosed as possibly having a form of arthritise. It can last a day or so but so far goes away eventually and he is fine for many weeks then it comes on again. He's 58 and never knowing when it will happen has been extremely had for him to deal with mentally. I'm the same age and I feel so lucky to not have anything like that affect me but I feel so bad for him.

There''s so little time and so much room to experiment, why choose to play like someone else? If I were Earl, I wouldn''t play it like me either.”

I have had this happen as well. In both my hands and my legs. Tell your guitarist to lay off the caffeine. It can cause dehydration which promotes cramping. Also, if you get it, go into the restroom. Run your hand under hot water but not scalding until the muscles unknot. Then start rehydrating with plain water or Gatorade.

Jun 12, 2020 - 10:24:08 AM

98 posts since 11/27/2017

I don't know if it will help anyone else, but it helped me. When I was pregnant, (many, many moons ago!) my doctor told me some relaxation exercises. It sounds counter intuitive, but it works. You deliberately tense certain muscle groups, hold it, then relax them. Focus on your calm breathing and on that one muscle group. Feel it tense, feel yourself holding it for 30 - 45 seconds, then FEEL it relax. Then go on to the next muscle group. Do the same thing.

What this does is gets you focused on the feeling of tension and the feeling of relaxation. It makes you better able to control both.

Aug 3, 2020 - 7:55:50 AM

2 posts since 11/29/2019

Hey All,

I recently moved to the North Georgia mountains staying at Geoff Howald's place near Dahlonega GA. Sure is nice up here. I recently experienced tension in my right hand and it got to the point when I woke up one morning with a very sore hand. I took a few weeks off the let it heal. Geoff informed that I needed to relax and was pushing myself toooooo hard. Granted, using Geoff's tried and true techniques, I was able to go from a true 50 BPM to 100 BPM within the last few months. Well I have to admit by relaxing, not thinking about what I am doing, letting my hand go into "automatic mode", I am past the tension and playing better than ever. I joked with Geoff telling him I am doing yoga to Ralph Stanley :)

Geoff and I also have an internal joke between us when he told me engineers can never make banjo players. Well he is right. For me I kept trying to analyze what I was doing not letting my brain and hands go into "automatic mode" while being relaxed. Well I can say this works well and has for countless banjo players I see attend Geoff's banjo camps here in Dalonega.

One of Geoff's instructors is Curtis Jones. He has recorded in Nashville having people such as Alison Brown and others play for him. Curtis is a master musician and rightly so. He has helped me dramatically developing my skills is a short period of time with allot of fun along the way. I can truly say that I really look forward to playing my banjo when I get up in the morning more so than ever because of Geoff and Curtis's techniques and proven training.

Please keep in mind I am not trying to stand on a soap box here or trying to promote anyone or anything. I just want you all to know what has worked for me (and others I have met). The Banjo is great gift in my opinion for everyone's enjoyment, player or not :)

More to come on my Banjo journey the good Lord has given me.

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