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Jul 11, 2018 - 9:04:15 AM

DIV

USA

5441 posts since 8/18/2004

After enjoying learning and playing Clawhammer style for a few years, I recently switched back to Scruggs-style with fingerpicks. Although I've casually played banjo for over 30 yrs, I've never got much formal training and am "self-taught", but in my early years, instead of learning all the fundamentals (chords, scales, fingerboard etc.), I got into the "bad" habit of learning tunes by tab and I've become what I consider a mocking bird ("hack" if you will). So I want to learn the fingerboard and I've been playing scales, re-learning all the chords up and down the neck and I'm going through Janet Davis Banjo Scales course which has been pretty helpful.

I'd love to master the fingerboard, but I believe this venture is easier within fingerpicks vs. Clawhammer style...it seems to me there's more versatility: playing different scales up and down, Not to mention the fact that fingerpick-style banjo usually stays in the G-tuning (corrected), unlike Clawhammer which seems to be quite at home in numerous tunings.  Obviously, learning the fingerboard by sticking to one tuning (G) is already a big enough challenge for me.

Is the above statement true?  

Edited by - DIV on 07/11/2018 16:50:17

Jul 11, 2018 - 9:33:22 AM
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Mooooo

USA

3600 posts since 8/20/2016
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by DIV

After enjoying learning and playing Clawhammer style for a few years, I recently switched back to Scruggs-style with fingerpicks. Although I've casually played banjo for over 30 yrs, I've never got much formal training and am "self-taught", but in my early years, instead of learning all the fundamentals (chords, scales, fingerboard etc.), I got into the "bad" habit of learning tunes by tab and I've become what I consider a mocking bird ("hack" if you will). So I want to learn the fingerboard and I've been playing scales, re-learning all the chords up and down the neck and I'm going through Janet Davis Banjo Scales course which has been pretty helpful.

I'd love to master the fingerboard, but I believe this venture is easier within fingerpicks vs. Clawhammer style...it seems to me there's more versatility: playing different scales up and down, Not to mention the fact that fingerpick-style banjo usually stays in the G-chord, unlike Clawhammer which seems to be quite at home in numerous tunings.  Obviously, learning the fingerboard by sticking to one tuning (G) is already a big enough challenge for me.

Is the above statement true?  


Your statement is not necessarily true. It is just as hard/easy to learn the fingerboard using fingerpicks as it is without them. Learning  the fretboard in multiple tunings is very challenging, but if you stick to one it is just as easy in Scruggs or Clawhammer. It is also not a fact when you say "Not to mention the fact that fingerpick-style banjo usually stays in the G-chord" - if you substitute "G Tuning" for "the G-chord" it becomes truer...but scruggs style uses more than one tuning such as: the two Open-D tunings (f#DF#AD and aDF#AD), Sawmill (Modal or Mountain Minor), Drop-C and lots of capoing.  But generally the norm is Open G tuning, with or without a capo.

My opinion is this: If you want to learn the fingerboard for 3 finger, Scruggs style picking, learn it in Open G tuning and memorize the all notes on the fretboard and relationships between the notes in as many keys as you like. Learn where the root, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes are in your chords. You will still be using the same notes and relationships between them in other tunings but may be unaware of their names. Don't forget that ChordKey and Tuning all mean different things.Hopefully you can learn to recognize the intervals which will help you figure out the names of each note, if that's what you want to do. It is not really necessary, but if you are interested in this it will help you out a lot in knowing the fretboard and explaining it to others

Jul 11, 2018 - 9:43:40 AM

n1wr

USA

718 posts since 12/27/2010

What Mike said. the only thing I could add would be that I believe that clawhammer is more into strumming, where Scruggs finger style is more into individual notes, hence more significant to the learning you are interested in. You also might consider the implications of other finger pick styles, such as melodic, which is certainly significant in learning the neck. And Reno style - he took advantage of his knowledge of guitar to develop his style, which certainly involved a serious knowledge of the neck. I'm no expert - just adding some fodder to the conversation.

Jul 11, 2018 - 11:49:06 AM

521 posts since 10/16/2014

I didn't really learn "scales" on the banjo like you would for mandolin or fiddle. I learned how to play a bunch of songs using the G scale in G-tuning down the neck (root note at open third string). Doing that, I absorbed where the notes in the major scale were.

Then I learned how to play breaks to songs up the neck (root note on second string). Then, based on something I read here, I moved my "up the neck" patterns down the neck several frets, and I was playing in C and D.

Playing out of G and D formations, with a capo, is sufficient for probably 95% of what I play.

Jul 11, 2018 - 12:04:47 PM

janolov Players Union Member

Sweden

38802 posts since 3/7/2006

quote:
Originally posted by n1wr

What Mike said. the only thing I could add would be that I believe that clawhammer is more into strumming, where Scruggs finger style is more into individual notes, hence more significant to the learning you are interested in. 


I don't agree! Modern clawhammer today is mostly single string and with very few brushes and no strumming. Just check the Tune of the Week in the Old Time section to study contemporary clawhammer.

The difference between clawhammer and Scruggs' style is more the rhythm. Clawhammer usually gives a steady bum-pa-di-ty or di-ty-di-ty rhythm, while Scruggs style is more versatile in the rhythm, but on the other hand, Scruggs style usually needs a back-up of another instrument (usually guitar and bass), while clawhammer often can stand for itself.

Clawhammer players use a lot of different tunings, while Scruggs players often only play in G (but Scruggs himself used at least 4 or 5 different tunings). I think that is depending on the rhythm focus in clawhammer, and the melody focus in Scruggs style.

Also listen to Walt Koken: he plays clawhammer a lot up the neck (up to 22nd fret) in a very successful way. and combining it with usual hammer-on, pull-off and drop thumb. He shows what is possible!

Jul 11, 2018 - 3:39:37 PM

1240 posts since 4/5/2006

OT music makes use of modes more than BG music, which is most always in ionian mode. (the common "western" scale) it was always just easier for the OT banjo players to retune than have to learn the modal scales & where to get the notes in standard tuning.

The rhythm is also a big difference. The bumpadity rhythm is more continuous in OT banjo. Where as in BG the rhythm section is holding the rhythm steady while the lead intrument takes liberties with syncopation & other little nuances. 

As far as the individual notes go, some BGer's get a kick out of throwing in blue notes now & then. 

Jul 11, 2018 - 8:47:35 PM

Paul R

Canada

10404 posts since 1/28/2010

quote:
Originally posted by n1wr

What Mike said. the only thing I could add would be that I believe that clawhammer is more into strumming, where Scruggs finger style is more into individual notes, hence more significant to the learning you are interested in.

Folk song "frailing" is more like strumming, but many ckawhammer pickers are playing fiddle tunes or accompanying their singing with melodic technique. Ken Perlman's book, Melodic Clawhammer Banjo, came out in the Seventies. Contemporary players such as Frank Evans (of the Slocan Ramblers) play up the neck a lot - in fact, he alternates between CH and BG.

Jul 12, 2018 - 11:26:27 AM
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KCJones

USA

205 posts since 8/30/2012

I always felt that running though scale exercises was more intuitive and easier 3-finger style rather than clawhammer. Being able to use 3 fingers in any order rather than being confined to drop thumb patterns allows more freedom with how how you pick the notes. Additionally the transition from bluegrass 3 finger to melodic 3 finger seems more of a direct shift than going from rhythmic frailing to melodic clawhammer, which is what you'll be doing when you start doing scales and such.

For example picking a G scale going from 4th string to 1st string is damn near impossible for me on CH but intuitive with 3 finger rolls. A TIMI roll is much easier than trying to downstroke on the 4th string and then drop the thumb to the 3rd or 2nd. And if you want to go up and down a scale on 3finger, you just reverse your rolls and go. But reversing a drop thumb pattern isn't exactly intuitive or helpful within the rhythmic context of most CH playing. I hope that makes sense.


Just my experience. YMMV

Edited by - KCJones on 07/12/2018 11:27:30

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