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Mar 15, 2019 - 8:34:35 PM
11 posts since 2/9/2019

In your opinion, which is the better player of these two?

Mar 15, 2019 - 9:03:03 PM
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Mooooo

USA

6208 posts since 8/20/2016

These guys are both on my list of 5 banjo pickers to invite over for dinner, so, I don't want to make it weird...

Mar 15, 2019 - 9:03:59 PM
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chuckv97

Canada

38633 posts since 10/5/2013

Sonny Crowe

Mar 15, 2019 - 10:22:59 PM
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banjovet

Canada

90 posts since 9/9/2004

There is no "better" when it comes to JD Crowe and Sonny Osborne. It all depends on how you like to hear the banjo being played.
I studied both of them many years ago. To me, the basic differences between JD Crowe and Sonny Osborne are that JD Crowe's right hand attack is more pronounced than Sonny's, which is smoother. Same goes for their back-up work although I was always amazed at how creative Sonny could be with it.
But banjo playing is not just technical....it also needs a musical approach. So
understanding what JD and Sonny play and why they play it, will help any banjo player develop their own style.
Same goes for many other great bluegrass banjo players. They all bring valuable lessons to the table.

Mar 16, 2019 - 12:40:09 AM
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eMike

USA

1256 posts since 2/5/2006

They are both better than 99% of most banjo players and better than 100% of the rest.
I think you are developing a pattern in your line of questions/posts and given the number of truly amazing banjo players out there, this could go on for quite a while.

Mar 16, 2019 - 4:49:55 AM

GStump

USA

226 posts since 9/12/2006

Yes - probably best not to go into this territory. Both are extremely good. I suppose it would come down to a personal opinion and preferences. SO, BOTH ARE BETTER....

Mar 16, 2019 - 4:56:29 AM
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1606 posts since 9/10/2003

Their both Great players in their own playing styles. End of conversation.

Brian

Mar 16, 2019 - 4:59:36 AM

1420 posts since 11/27/2005
Online Now

I think from the banjo perspective Sony's playing became a bit lackadaisical during the "Tennessee Hound Doug" Era and I don't think Crowe ever gave in in the same way. This is no reflection on ability just choices of what the player is happy with.

Joe

Mar 16, 2019 - 5:16:38 AM
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2312 posts since 11/15/2003

I think among technicians ...sonny probably branched out more with experimentation especially during the "plugged in" years and the six string years and he is practically single handedly responsible for the seeking out pre-war Gibsons movement.
warp!

Mar 16, 2019 - 5:33:48 AM
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3287 posts since 4/27/2004

There is no objective way to make that comparison........it's like comparing Ford to Chevy! I can say they both have one very important thing in common.........they both tutored under Jimmy Martin!! FWIW!

Mar 16, 2019 - 7:15:13 AM
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WesB

USA

130 posts since 12/17/2014

The only players who are qualified to select the best between J.D. and Sonny, are the ones who can play better than both, and we haven't found them yet.

Mar 16, 2019 - 7:59:04 AM
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1035 posts since 2/10/2013

Both are excellent. When asked for his appraisal of J.D. Crowe's playing, Sonny remarked that J.D. Crowe was from another planet. I think Sonny was about as good as a banoist can be when playing backup. But J.D. Crowe reset the bar for playing breaks.

On Youtube there is a video of a younger J.D. Crowe playing "Train 45" at an outdoor concert. It was really "jaw dropping".

There are quite a few underappreciated banjoists. Carl Jackson and Larry McNeely don't get enough recognition. Both of those individuals are great musicians and multi instrumentalists. Picking the "best" of anything varies on individual tastes, and everybody has their own opinions.

Mar 16, 2019 - 8:22:34 AM

chief3

Canada

1077 posts since 10/26/2003

"Better player" is not a question that has a clear answer because both players have their own style and musical interpretation. It is more about which player do you like the most. Both are retired professionals so if someone is not sure who they liked the most, one way to answer that question is to think back on the festivals you went to and the records (music) you bought and figure out who's music, did you, or are you willing to, spend the most of your hard earned money listening to? There's your answer.

Mar 16, 2019 - 8:33:11 AM
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11 posts since 2/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Mooooo

These guys are both on my list of 5 banjo pickers to invite over for dinner, so, I don't want to make it weird...


Mine too

Mar 16, 2019 - 8:39:53 AM

11 posts since 2/9/2019

If I made anybody mad with this poll, I'm sorry

Edited by - BugleCall on 03/16/2019 08:40:04

Mar 16, 2019 - 9:56:36 AM
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banjovet

Canada

90 posts since 9/9/2004

No apology needed BugleCall. I think most of the comments here show that choosing the "best" player" is not the best question to ask. It would be better to ask something like "who is your favourite player... and why?" That way you will get more and better information as opposed to fixed opinions.
Back in the mid-1980's I taught a basic five-string banjo course at a community college. One of the most interesting parts for me during the course came after I played recorded versions of JD Crowe, Earl Scruggs, Sonny Osborne and Allen Shelton... all playing the same three-chord bluegrass song. I asked them which player they liked best and why.
Even though the students were still learning the basics, they all came up with very insightful answers. They were also willing to listen and learn something new from the comments made by other students who chose different players. And they all found something they liked by each of the players on those recordings.
I learned something from that too.....having a fixed opinion on who is the "best" may close your mind to the possibility that someone you like better can come along at any time.

Edited by - banjovet on 03/16/2019 09:59:31

Mar 16, 2019 - 10:06:52 AM

9545 posts since 6/2/2008

Can’t say one is better than the other, but I believe J.D. was more influential. That is, I get the impression just from listening to banjo players and reading comments on the Hangout over the years that there are way more people copping J.D. licks and trying (even subconsciously) to sound like J.D. than sound like Sonny.

Which is not say that beginners don’t get told here to listen to classic Osborne Brothers records. They do.

But I think J.D. advanced the art of banjo more than Sonny. This does not make him “better.”

I could be wrong.

Mar 16, 2019 - 10:08:16 AM

285 posts since 10/22/2006

Both

Mar 16, 2019 - 10:12:47 AM

Mooooo

USA

6208 posts since 8/20/2016

I enjoy hearing people's opinions. I can't see why anyone would tell you not to ask such questions. We ask all the time "which is best" questions here on the BHO. What's the best pick, what are the best strings, what's the best tuner...everyone is happy to give an opinion and no one shames you into thinking you shouldn't even ask. It's an opinion. I happen to have no opinion on this particular question because they are both so close in greatness to me. But I am glad you asked, I wish people had as much cajones as Warp to, at least, give an opnion. I love to hear other's opinions, it helps me form mine.

Mar 16, 2019 - 10:57:05 AM
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2312 posts since 11/15/2003

Thanks for the Flowers Moo,

I mostly don't hold back on my opinions(at least with my banjo) because i'd like to believe that most everything i say about the banjo....i can back up by demonstrating it with my banjo(more a while back than here lately),

but secondly.....

I once had the ear of some of the legends that we talk about and they did me a huge kindness by not holding back on there opinions when i asked them about how a cow eats a cabbage, and i don't think a lot can be gained by sugar coating something and sometimes....the bitter after taste is the whole point!

but yes....Sonny vs Jd is very subjective at best, and really does nothing for the over all banjo movement and one could not go wrong by devoting there learning life to either style of picking!

Warp!

Mar 16, 2019 - 11:21:18 AM
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11693 posts since 10/30/2008

Which Titan is better?

Which Greek god is better?

Which form of gold is better - bullion or coin?

Which legendary baseball player was better?

Which Wright Brother was better?

There is only one answer to your question BugleCall. Sonny and JD would agree I'm sure.

The answer is "Earl".

My preference happens to be JD.

Mar 16, 2019 - 11:38:16 AM

4577 posts since 5/9/2007

Bob Carlin

Mar 16, 2019 - 11:40:11 AM

Mooooo

USA

6208 posts since 8/20/2016

quote:
Originally posted by warpdrive


...I once had the ear of some of the legends that we talk about and they did me a huge kindness by not holding back on there opinions when i asked them about how a cow eats a cabbage...

You've never eaten cabbage 'til you've chewed it twice! I loves me some cud-cabbage.

Mar 16, 2019 - 2:49:05 PM
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Hawk54

Australia

732 posts since 2/9/2007

I prefer sonny's playing ,has a real rhythm and feel plus a genius aspect to it .

Mar 16, 2019 - 3:26:32 PM
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1812 posts since 4/5/2006

One of, if not, the first BG album added to my collection was that "Cuttin Grass" album the Osborne Brothers put out. The first music book I had that was specifically on BG & Scruggs style picking was the Mel Bay book that Sonny authored. I cut my teeth on that book & soon figured out how to play some of the breaks Sonny did during that era.

But, for one reason or another, the Osborne Brothers material was not often covered by others. Other than Once More, you hardly ever heard any Osborne Brothers material being done, least of all by mere amateurs in jam sessions. On the other hand, the material JD recorded was covered by everyone. I think it fair to say that JD was more copied than was Sonny. Not that JD was better, just more copied. An amateur banjo player has to either go with the flow,,,,or successfully encourage a couple others to learn some new material. crying

Sonny's tasteful back up to slow songs is legendary. Some of his licks, he says, came from listening to horns. Wherever he found them, they rattled around in Sonny's head & came out thru his banjo having a real grassy sound. I still haven't figured out how he did some of that stuff. 

I think, and this is just my own personal option, some of JD's best work was on the New South & the Japan albums. Sonny's best spans decades & albums. One being Sonny's rendition of  America the Beautiful. 

There is really no fair way to compare players the caliber of JD & Sonny. They are individuals, and they are in a class of their own.  

Edited by - monstertone on 03/16/2019 15:30:59

Mar 16, 2019 - 3:55:02 PM

11 posts since 2/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by banjovet

No apology needed BugleCall. I think most of the comments here show that choosing the "best" player" is not the best question to ask. It would be better to ask something like "who is your favourite player... and why?" That way you will get more and better information as opposed to fixed opinions.
Back in the mid-1980's I taught a basic five-string banjo course at a community college. One of the most interesting parts for me during the course came after I played recorded versions of JD Crowe, Earl Scruggs, Sonny Osborne and Allen Shelton... all playing the same three-chord bluegrass song. I asked them which player they liked best and why.
Even though the students were still learning the basics, they all came up with very insightful answers. They were also willing to listen and learn something new from the comments made by other students who chose different players. And they all found something they liked by each of the players on those recordings.
I learned something from that too.....having a fixed opinion on who is the "best" may close your mind to the possibility that someone you like better can come along at any time.


Well, that's what I meant, but I guess I said it wrong

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