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Aug 14, 2019 - 12:54:59 PM
5451 posts since 3/6/2006
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I must admit that when I was starting out I wanted to play as fast as possible - it was a thrill! My thoughts on it kinda changed over time though. How fast do you like to play? FMB at 160? 180? Do you like listening to really fast playing? What is the relationship between speed and drive? Do you think the notes kinda run together at higher speeds? Am I asking enough questions? smiley

Aug 14, 2019 - 1:05:49 PM
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6563 posts since 2/14/2006

I wish I could play as fast as when I was a kid, but I can't. These days 145 bpm is enough for me, but I try to emphasize timing and cleanliness instead of the extra 15 bpm!

Aug 14, 2019 - 1:57:53 PM

2319 posts since 9/12/2016

My thoughts ,I don't say others should agree
In this type of music ,a person with a certain musical value when playing a complex tune,will tend to overshadow the same person playing 20 bpms slower. Of course the person doing the judging comes in different but predictable types. The double slap for me is I can skim across a melodic fiddle tune easier at 128 than slowing it down to 112 .I have to pull much harder to slice and dice at slower but still musically full tempos .To me at my older years. A little wow factor is all I need .After a barnburner for most of the set, I like it slowed down and putting forth me some hard fought for tone.If someone  breaks a string I would have a flashback.

Edited by - Tractor1 on 08/14/2019 13:59:26

Aug 14, 2019 - 1:58:09 PM

Mooooo

USA

7116 posts since 8/20/2016

I want to be able to play faster than everyone...but I'm not that good. I am happy picking fast songs in the 140s, sometimes if I'm feeling froggy I can get up into the 150s and low 160s, but that is rare. I am most comfortable in the 130s and140s. I can't seem to get much faster than 112 on 'Beating around the Bush'. If I have to strip down a song to play faster, I am not so happy about it.

I do like listening to fast tunes...breakdowns are usually played at a brisk pace and I enjoy them.

I can't explain the relationship between speed and drive at the moment. I'm not sure I have thought it out well enough, and chances are, after I type it out, I will think of something new to add, then something new after that...etc...so it's best not to waste your time.

When I pick too fast the notes all blend together without any separation. But we have all heard people who are capable of picking extremely fast with clarity. Just because I can't do it doesn't mean it shouldn't be done, but at the same time, there should be a good reason for it other than "Look mom, I'm picking really fast."

You sure ask a lot of questions.

Edited by - Mooooo on 08/14/2019 13:59:30

Aug 14, 2019 - 1:58:50 PM

Omeboy

USA

2089 posts since 6/27/2013

Laurence,
I think I was in the same camp when I was much younger. I had a need for speed, which I felt equated to good musicianship, but now I know better.  (Oh, the improprieties of youth.) I've listened to stuff I played at a much younger age and realize how much more "musical" it would have been if I had simply slowed down. I played like I had something to prove: like my shirt-tail was on fire.)  Doug is absolutely spot on when he says that cleanliness and tempo are everything. Speed has its place, but it's definitely a secondary consideration compared to tempo and real musicality. Almost any tune played at absolute top speed runs the risk of sounding very technical, but also potentially sterile.  That said, the red hot final chorus still has its rightful place on some tunes.

Aug 14, 2019 - 2:32:26 PM
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2558 posts since 11/15/2003

Good Topic Larry,

I guess from previous posts and some of my video's....i could be considered somewhat on the fast side......that's not to say that is all i think about or what i play.

I find when i'm by myself, and when i am feeling good and loose, i get an adrenaline rush and really push the limit.....sometimes i really like what i am doing, and go until the cows are all hairlipped , then there are other times when i like to back it off 20-30 bpm and put the emphasis on syncopation.

I really only try to play real fast now a days because i know....just as it' true for everybody.....you slow down with age, and the fact that i am at my fastest right now, i know it can only go down from here.....not that it is a bad thing..it has to happen sooner or later.

In a jam or band format....i am all about the overall sound of the band....the drive, the big beat.....seriously, i don't even like to play banjo instrumentals and often refuse them if asked.......i just think breaks to songs either pre-arragnged or off the cuff are way more fun and challenging. In the band or jam situation, speed is useless if you can't make it sound good and if the rest of the band can't make it sound good with you.

Warp!

Aug 14, 2019 - 2:55:51 PM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

23273 posts since 8/3/2003

I think some folks can play too fast and all you hear is a blur of sound rather than individual notes and music. That kind of fastness I do not enjoy. Slow it down a bit, quit being a hot shot player, and make music sound like music, not just noise.

We went to a festival one time, drove over 200 miles to see one specific band and one specific banjo player. When they came on stage, it took them forever to get set up, when the finally started playing, the music was so loud that the first 3 rows left and the picking was so fast that you had no idea what was being played. I can't remember ever being more disappointed in a band.

I've been in jams with hot shot pickers who seem to think they have to play faster than everyone else. In fact, I've walked away from jams like that and gone to jams where people enjoy picking with other people rather than staying in a jam with the "star" while everyone tries to keep up.

Aug 14, 2019 - 4:47:08 PM
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794 posts since 11/17/2018

I personally don't like really fast playing, and agree that it runs together at some point.

As far as learning a new tune, I have always started slow and work "up to speed."

Aug 14, 2019 - 5:06:44 PM
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chuckv97

Canada

43371 posts since 10/5/2013
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I might’ve hit 160 bpm when I was younger, but only when trying to fire off FMB or this one. I think JD’s hittin’ about 182 bpm.
youtu.be/dl0Z5LY7LUQ

Edited by - chuckv97 on 08/14/2019 17:07:09

Aug 14, 2019 - 5:47:30 PM

Banjo Lefty

Canada

1650 posts since 6/19/2014

That's way, way, too fast.

Aug 15, 2019 - 5:16:24 AM
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3255 posts since 3/28/2008

I think this is about 192. I've been told there was a lot of caffeine--and no doubt some adrenaline--involved.

youtube.com/watch?v=lNRFoFjphOk

Aug 15, 2019 - 6:40:22 AM
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70062 posts since 5/9/2007

If I play for an hour every day I can play faster.

Aug 15, 2019 - 6:56:44 AM
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2319 posts since 9/12/2016

Slow fingers here wondering, these guys hitting 180 or190 . Would a lighter touch and strings along with a certain banjo set up be necessary ,along with obvious'' special gene pool''.

They say Marshall Brickman was playing a Vega White Lady here at 190 something if i counted right

allison brown and of course raymond fairchild can reach these goals

 

Edited by - Tractor1 on 08/15/2019 07:06:01

Aug 15, 2019 - 6:56:51 AM
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chief3

Canada

1087 posts since 10/26/2003

I can recall Sonny Osborne once said that Scruggs could play very fast but he often chose not to. Fast for the sake of "fast" can create two problems. The tune may sound much better if it was played slower simply because it was written and arranged to be played slower and because fast can sometimes just turns out to be sloppy because the player is playing with the purpose of being fast not necessarily for any other purpose. The human ear sometimes just can't pick out the notes clearly if it is too fast. If someone want's to lay out a good performance, taste and control first, and speed when or if required.

Aug 15, 2019 - 7:10:54 AM

RB3

USA

532 posts since 4/12/2004

I'll offer a paraphrase of Mark Twain's famous quote. A gentlemen is a man who knows how to play the banjo too fast, but doesn't. But it's a lot like money. It's not that important until you need it, and don't have.

Aug 15, 2019 - 8:12:52 AM

5451 posts since 3/6/2006
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by warpdrive

Good Topic Larry,

I guess from previous posts and some of my video's....i could be considered somewhat on the fast side......that's not to say that is all i think about or what i play.

I find when i'm by myself, and when i am feeling good and loose, i get an adrenaline rush and really push the limit.....sometimes i really like what i am doing, and go until the cows are all hairlipped , then there are other times when i like to back it off 20-30 bpm and put the emphasis on syncopation.

I really only try to play real fast now a days because i know....just as it' true for everybody.....you slow down with age, and the fact that i am at my fastest right now, i know it can only go down from here.....not that it is a bad thing..it has to happen sooner or later.

In a jam or band format....i am all about the overall sound of the band....the drive, the big beat.....seriously, i don't even like to play banjo instrumentals and often refuse them if asked.......i just think breaks to songs either pre-arragnged or off the cuff are way more fun and challenging. In the band or jam situation, speed is useless if you can't make it sound good and if the rest of the band can't make it sound good with you.

Warp!


Warp, you do play fast but you're a pro enough to pull it off - phrasing, timing, note separation and good taste. Mostly I just hear you having a blast playing the banjo! If you are going to play fast, you better do it right! Talking of which, here's Big K showing how it's done - I usually cite this as an example of drive because he drives the crap out of the entire song!

Aug 15, 2019 - 8:50:40 AM

2498 posts since 2/16/2017

My John Hartford habit has made me show down and focus on timing and musicianship, which has curiously allowed me to play a lot faster and cleaner when I'm in the mood to play more traditional scruggsy stuff.

Aug 15, 2019 - 10:37:21 AM

106 posts since 7/28/2019

Set the metronome at a speed that you can smoothly pick a tune. Now gradually increase the metronome about 10 BPM and get smooth again. Just keep going.

Aug 15, 2019 - 11:42:34 AM
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2558 posts since 11/15/2003

Thanks for the Flowers Larry...
That example link to Kenny playing is what made Big K one of the kings if not the King of note separation combined with speed and tone, and from talking with him during those years.....he was constantly working on it, he really is perfect.

One thing i might add to this analogy of speed......it really helps to know if you have the rolls correct, there is a flow to them, and if there not correct, it will show up as your struggling , i don't know how else to say it, and i sure don't want to come across as "condescending" but i've heard people try to play somethings fast, and they were not using the proper rolls....and there hand timing was off, and it was just a train wreck.

Just like Big K in that video....there is no struggle ....he is smooth and relaxed and pushing the train on down the line,.....if you have the rolls correct, just emphasis on hitting them correctly....the speed will follow, barring any physical limitations.

warp!

Aug 15, 2019 - 2:57:07 PM

3199 posts since 7/12/2006

To me getting drive when not playing fast is a goal in itself.oops didnt meant to put the photo there


Edited by - stanleytone on 08/15/2019 14:58:30

Aug 15, 2019 - 3:47:08 PM

2319 posts since 9/12/2016

I wonder where the volume needed in the one mic days comes in to play.
Playing light with great dynamics on a dedicated mic, might take the load off.a smidgen.

JD and Kenny don't sound rushed nor that amazingly fast until I clock it.

Edited by - Tractor1 on 08/15/2019 15:55:31

Aug 15, 2019 - 4:01:24 PM
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2319 posts since 9/12/2016

I think local legend Murrel Thixton had to grab this one and bring it home for Michael.I clock it over 200

Aug 15, 2019 - 4:15:10 PM
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2558 posts since 11/15/2003



"very dangerous" getting into a fast jam with Michael Cleveland...he's the original energizer bunny.....he can bring on heart attacks playing at his speeds!
warp!

Edited by - warpdrive on 08/15/2019 16:18:27

Aug 16, 2019 - 11:54:45 AM

Omeboy

USA

2089 posts since 6/27/2013

Chuck...
The woman looking thru the wrong end of the binoculars at the end of  your J.D. Crowe clip might know something about speed.

Aug 16, 2019 - 12:13:33 PM
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chuckv97

Canada

43371 posts since 10/5/2013
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Omeboy

Chuck...
The woman looking thru the wrong end of the binoculars at the end of  your J.D. Crowe clip might know something about speed.


They’re all related....

Aug 16, 2019 - 3:43:52 PM

24 posts since 7/20/2019

It really depends on alot of factors. I think on Rocky top my band takes me up around 200-210.
Clarity can be an issue if i'm out of practice. But clarity in speed comes from your ability to make your melody notes the volume you want while making your rolls and arpeggio's softer.
If you don't differentiate between them then it's always going to sound muddy.

It's kind of like when you hit the 5th string with as much force as you hit the 3rd in a alternating thumb roll lick. That high G just drowns out everything and rings you into a headache.

That being said though, I love playing fast... when I don't have to play fast again and again and again.
It is however, poetic to torture my band with speed. Given they torture me with "unholy" rock music pretty frequently.
I do find it's easier to play more scale based improv/licks at a slower tempo. Especially pentatonics and blues runs.

The relationship between drive? Sounds like the bus drivers problem.
The drive at slower tempos is better controlled by the guitar and bass. At slow slow tempos like around 100-120 syncopation is a big part of driving from the banjo's side. 

Edited by - JGraffrath on 08/16/2019 15:45:43

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