Not sure if there's technically a difference in a "rake" or "brush" but Earl and Charlie exemplify the fact that it is truly artful.
I wanted to reference an old archived topic I posted some years ago...
Edited by - DIV on 07/13/2018 06:08:30
Thanks. I had not seen that thread before. And I have been trying to get that rake down that I hear on Cumberland Gap for awhile, which I believe is similar. I thought it would be easy. But I’ve never been happy with the sound of my brush and I’ve always wondered how others get that sound. ...not that reading how to do it will solve my problem, kind of like learning karate from a book! But reading is helpful in learning so thank you.
This link came up on the discussion from the other link. Rocky Top The reference was to the brush Sonny used in his second break. You get to see it real good, his ring & pinky fingers stay planted, the whole hand simply moves down. So to my eye, it would seem to be all thumb brushing across the strings. And like said, treat it like a slide & don't rush it. (Yeah right, on Rocky Top, don't rush it?) That takes discipline.
The one that still baffles me to this day are those brush endings that Sonny does. Admittedly, I have not practiced that technique near enough to try it on stage. I just imagine picks flying everywhere. But Sonny is proof it can be done. He uses that style ending a lot.
Cripple Creek from 34 - 100 percent
Two of the important elements that I hear are the following:
1) timing: start the rake slightly before the beat and leave a bit of a pause afterwards to emphasize it
2) what notes to play and which NOT to play: here's what I wrote on 10/16/10:
"AH!!! I GOT IT...I've been analyzing (slow motion) Charlie Cushman's really "barking" rakes in Tennessee Cut-Up Breakdown from his fabulous 5 String Time CD and I think I've got it...what makes it sound so meaty is that his rake stops at the 2nd string...somehow ending on that B instead of the D of the 1st string gives a more "ballsy" sound.
Try it and you'll see what I mean!"
"Yup, I just slowed down Earl's rake in Cumberland Gap and he avoids that high D as well."
hope that helps!
Edited by - DIV on 07/13/2018 06:24:46
Charlie Cushman's own words from BANJO NEWSLETTER
When they re released Carnegie Hall, they put Mt.Dew on it.Earl gets a good one on it.
One important thing that goes overlooked on Earl’s Cumberland Gap is what’s happening with his left hand when he does the brush...
He slides up to the 5th fret when his thumb gets to the first string and then while the string is still ringing from the brush, he slides back down to the E note on the 1st string...
I am fine with the rake in Cumberland Gap. I just can't get it in correctly I Foggy Mtn Breakdown, or else my timing on it could be off.
you can tell how good a banjo picker is by the power of his rake.
'Ralph Stanley' 2 hrs
'1931 style 1' 2 hrs
'Grasshopper ' 4 hrs