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May 26, 2019 - 6:14:30 PM
14 posts since 2/19/2017

I am trying to learn the 5-string banjo and taking Jim Pankey's lessons on youtube and am having a heck of a time trying to remember how to play the strings. That is, when I play 5-2-1-5-3 it sounds terrible. I'm trying to memorize the strings to pick but still having one heck of a time. I've been trying to play for over two years but still sound like a beginner. Do you folks have any suggestions or tips for an old hombre?

May 26, 2019 - 6:26:55 PM

21 posts since 3/18/2019

Do what feels natural to your fingers. Tabs are usually set up that way but doesn't mean it's right for you. Keep playing slow till you develop a rhythm..then you can work on your speed

May 26, 2019 - 6:56:48 PM

205 posts since 10/23/2010

If you could post a short video of yourself playing, you'd probably get a lot of constructive advice on what you may be doing wrong, or what you need to try differently.

It wouldn't matter what you play, it doesn't even have to be a song.
Just video yourself doing some various roll patterns.

Good luck.

May 26, 2019 - 7:04:58 PM
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Mooooo

USA

7041 posts since 8/20/2016

I bet if you could take a few lessons, a teacher can set you straight pretty quick. Hopefully there is someone near you that you can go to. Check the instructors page here: Instructors. Good luck.

May 26, 2019 - 7:26:56 PM

6534 posts since 2/14/2006

This sounds weird, but in that roll 5-2-1-5-3, I usually concentrate on remembering the first "5" and the last "3", because they are the main downbeat notes.

May 26, 2019 - 7:35:21 PM

1853 posts since 5/2/2012

First of all, you're only a couple years older than me, so know that what you want to learn is doable - it may just take a little bit longer than the youngsters. Adding upon what has already been said, from personal experience I would suggest that slowing down will help. I played 2 finger thumb lead for a couple years before switching over to Scruggs style. That experience did help, but learning the rolls/picking patterns was a process. I had to slow WAY down, focusing REALLY hard in the beginning. Working on picking cleanly and accurately, then increasing speed little by little. Sometimes one step forward and then two steps back, as needed. It has been said here that how you practice is as or more important than what you practice.

Edited by - thisoldman on 05/26/2019 19:37:39

May 27, 2019 - 4:57:33 AM
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3153 posts since 7/12/2006

do yourself a favor. instead of trying to remember WHICH strings to pick, concentrate more on the particular roll pattern you are playing, which can be played on so mny various combination of strings ,or even a solitary string if needs be . of course you want to associate the note picked with the sound you hear,but obnce these "rolls " become embedded into your psyche then you go after particular melody notes you are looking for. i used to love to just hit all open strings ,picking one roll pattern and trying to do as many different string sequences as possible.

Edited by - stanleytone on 05/27/2019 05:03:50

May 27, 2019 - 6:21:26 AM
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1853 posts since 5/2/2012

Gary wrote something that reminded me of something I did shortly after I switched over to Scruggs style picking. I recall getting locked into a particular picking pattern (like a forward roll, since a lot of beginner tunes feature forward rolls) and struggling to switch from one picking pattern to another. So, like Gary, I tried to figure out variations of a pattern (like a forward roll) and practice switching from one to another. And switching from one roll (forward, backward, forward-backward, inside-outside, etc.) to another. I knew I was "there" when I could take a glance at the next measure (I use tab) and my brain would register what pattern it was and my fingers would play it on autopilot. That allowed me to focus most of my attention to the fretting hand.

May 27, 2019 - 6:26:46 AM

Blackjaxe47

Canada

1441 posts since 6/20/2014

Thumb-Index-Middle-Thumb-Index........standard forward roll. Start slow and keep at it eventually your Muscle Memory will kick-in and take over. I would also recommend using a metronome, start slow, remember the pattern ( T-I-M-T-I ) make it happen.

May 27, 2019 - 9:57:48 AM

Alex Z

USA

3561 posts since 12/7/2006

John6185:  I think many of the answers are not clearly understanding your difficulty.

Playing 5-2-1-5-3 on open strings would not "sound terrible"  IF you mean how the notes on the open strings sound.

Yet if you mean the rhythm of playing those strings, or the notes when fretting the left hand at the same time, that's a different situation.

Could you say a little more about your difficulties -- are the open strings OK but when playing a tune it doesn't sound like the tune?  And what part of the Jim Pankey lessons are you working on right now?

We'll get there. smiley

May 27, 2019 - 12:22:10 PM

1680 posts since 10/17/2013

Hmm...which sting to remember to pick? 

The one that hurts the least!

You have five levels of pain on a five-sting banjo:

 fourth sting, third sting, second sting, first sting, and fifth sting.

The fifth sting can hurt very badly.

 

When I started banjo, I got stung immediately. Terrible banjo playing comes from getting stung too much!

Edited by - bluegrassbanjopicker on 05/27/2019 12:26:43

May 27, 2019 - 6:39:38 PM
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Alex Z

USA

3561 posts since 12/7/2006

May want to check your own home page for inadvertent spelling typos.  Happens to everyone as we focus on content rather than spell check -- and the content is far more important

Just pointing this out in a polite and helpful way so that you can correct your home page if you want.

"Kalalmazoo resonator"

smiley

May 27, 2019 - 8:58:20 PM

778 posts since 6/3/2013

Just start off playing the chords to a song using forward rolls. Get used to changing chords. After a while, as you are playing, try picking out the melody notes within the chords. Start with some backward rolls when you are comfortable.  Play chords in different positions up the neck. Then just take it from there. Throw in some Scruggs licks every now and then.

Edited by - dupreejan on 05/27/2019 21:00:27

May 28, 2019 - 1:08:39 PM

1680 posts since 10/17/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Alex Z

May want to check your own home page for inadvertent spelling typos.  Happens to everyone as we focus on content rather than spell check -- and the content is far more important

Just pointing this out in a polite and helpful way so that you can correct your home page if you want.

"Kalalmazoo resonator"

smiley


Yikes!

I didn’t even notice that typo on my profile. I just corrected it. My first post on this thread was typo-d on purpose. I don’t normally make typoes?

May 28, 2019 - 1:39:19 PM
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Alex Z

USA

3561 posts since 12/7/2006

Good.  Therefore, no benefit in making fun of the poster's typo in the title of the thread.  Live and let live.  smiley

Jun 3, 2019 - 12:19:25 PM

14 posts since 2/19/2017

Thanks for your replies, I've been somewhat under the weather is the reason I didn't answer right away. Doing a little better now, surgery coming up on the 17th of the month. I'm still even at my age going to try and larn the dad burned banjo, I have arthritis in the fingers and I think the banjo helps limber them up a little.
That's the subject, banjo and it doesn't come with reading or an occasional picking up the banjo, it takes practice over and over until I ge the song down and then I mix up the songs on the banjo and the wife says I sound pretty good. but that don't get it, I have to concentrate on learning one song after another and I can't go on to the next song until I get the first one down. Hope this makes sense.

Jun 3, 2019 - 3:07:04 PM

Alex Z

USA

3561 posts since 12/7/2006

"I have to concentrate on learning one song after another and I can't go on to the next song until I get the first one down. Hope this makes sense."

Makes a lot of sense.  You're building expertise and focusing, and often -- having learned some skills in one song -- the next one comes more easily.

Any accomplished player will tell you that there is a limit to how many new things they can work on at one time and still see reasonable progress on all of them.  It ain't many.  There is mental and physical interference going on when learning multiple skills at the same time.

One at a time works well for many.  My only tip is that "getting the first one down" should not mean waiting for perfection -- that could take years if you want to sound like Mr. Earl.  smiley   Rather, being able to play through at a steady speed with decent timing and tone, and able to do this twice in a row.

Jun 4, 2019 - 9:49:04 AM
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1991 posts since 4/5/2006

Stop & think about this, you are trying to play five strings, with three fingers, to four beat music! If that's not bad enough, most of us having not grown up with Bluegrass music, are totally In the dark when we start down this road!. We've never heard any of these songs, other than maybe Cripple Creek, & not much of that. 

This roll, series of notes, 5,2,1,5,3 , by itself would need to be four 1/8 notes followed by a 1/4 note to sound right. String it together with something like 5,2,1,5, 3,1,5,2, 1,5,3,1, comes out to twelve beats and can be repeated over & over. The trick is making the emphasis fall on the down beat every time. To do that, it will always be on a different finger. The best way I know how to tell someone how to do that, is to sit down with a guitar player. Have him strum a G chord over & over & over, and just do that roll over & over & over. Listen to the guitar player and try to put the emphasis where he puts it. You have to do it often enough that it just comes out naturally, without having to think about it.

Until you get to that point, your playing will sound like a little kid just learning to read, singing Ma ry Had A Lit tle Lamb. ROF  

Edited by - monstertone on 06/04/2019 09:53:55

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