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How to Mimic a Clawhammer sound without playing Clawhammer technique

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Feb 13, 2020 - 7:24:28 AM
64 posts since 11/2/2009

I assume there are some Scruggs rolls/rhythm that can be used to mimic, to some degree, the clawhammer sound?

Any thoughts on this appreciated.

Feb 13, 2020 - 7:39:15 AM
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Jbo1

USA

887 posts since 5/19/2007

While wearing picks and playing Scruggs style, I will sometimes (depending upon the song) brush the strings with my ring finger to approximate a clawhammer sound. You have to loosen your hand, and not be resting any fingers on the head. It is probably closer to what Pete Seeger would do, but it works ok for my needs.

Feb 13, 2020 - 7:57:26 AM
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27 posts since 7/19/2019

I have a weird feeling that the time it would take for you to learn a style to Mimic clawhammer you could learn clawhammer.

However, since you'd be wearing finger picks I can see the conundrum.

Feb 13, 2020 - 8:00:43 AM
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1177 posts since 7/12/2004

I do the same as what Jim described. It works particularly well playing open G tuning in the key of D, with the 5th string tuned or capoed to A. If you do it enough it's really easy to switch back and forth between that style and 3-finger without breaking rhythm.

To really make it work, you have to dedicate your thumb to the 5th string and get used to playing your index finger on all the other strings, including the 4th, while you have no anchor fingers on the head, as Jim said.

It's fun on stage when people start looking around for the extra banjo player ;)

Feb 13, 2020 - 8:04:50 AM
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RBagoly

USA

74 posts since 11/9/2010

I started learning Scruggs-style at a fairly young age, and try as i might, I CANNOT seem to learn clawhammer. My wrist just doesn’t want to move, and my fingers try to do all the work. I can do an approximation, but is sounds more Seeger style than anything else — definitely NOT clawhammer. But I CAN do a little bit with picks on, using the ring finger as mentioned above.

Feb 13, 2020 - 9:03:26 AM
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KCJones

USA

653 posts since 8/30/2012

You can mimic the notes and rhythm with a combination of alt-thumb (TITM) and Dillard rolls (MIMT). If you skip the index part of TITM, it's the exact rhythm of the basic frail. MIMT can be used to mimic drop thumb.

You don't get the same tone as clawhammer, but the notes and rhythm can be matched exactly.

Feb 13, 2020 - 10:41:39 AM

Mooooo

USA

7602 posts since 8/20/2016

You can get some Clawjammer fingerpicks and use them for both Scruggs style and Clawhammer. They work like a charm, but get a little getting used to. They are all I use these days since 2018.

Feb 13, 2020 - 11:24:43 AM

64 posts since 11/2/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Gentleman From VA

I have a weird feeling that the time it would take for you to learn a style to Mimic clawhammer you could learn clawhammer.

However, since you'd be wearing finger picks I can see the conundrum.


Probably true. I guess I was trying to be lazy.

Feb 13, 2020 - 12:15:08 PM
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9372 posts since 2/22/2007

Just like a flat picker can mimic Scruggs, sure thing!

Feb 13, 2020 - 2:40:41 PM
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Lew H

USA

2415 posts since 3/10/2008

KCJones has it right. Use a regular kind of roll, but skip the 2nd note of 4 for a bum-ditty sound.

Feb 14, 2020 - 5:39:18 AM
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474 posts since 9/21/2018

A recent guest on the Picky Fingers Banjo Podcast was doing just this. Keith Billik can you help us on on this one? I think it was the Gina Furtado or the BB Bowness episode.

Feb 14, 2020 - 5:50:30 AM
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79 posts since 1/23/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Moose_Roberts

A recent guest on the Picky Fingers Banjo Podcast was doing just this. Keith Billik can you help us on on this one? I think it was the Gina Furtado or the BB Bowness episode.


 

It was Gina. Yeah, listen to her episode to hear it explained and demonstrated. A good example of her using this technique is her song "Shame" from her new album. Pretty amazing how accurate it sounds!

Here's the song: https://youtu.be/7_7v1QXvYFY

Feb 14, 2020 - 5:56:02 AM

474 posts since 9/21/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Keith Billik
quote:
Originally posted by Moose_Roberts

A recent guest on the Picky Fingers Banjo Podcast was doing just this. Keith Billik can you help us on on this one? I think it was the Gina Furtado or the BB Bowness episode.


 

It was Gina. Yeah, listen to her episode to hear it explained and demonstrated. A good example of her using this technique is her song "Shame" from her new album. Pretty amazing how accurate it sounds!

Here's the song: https://youtu.be/7_7v1QXvYFY


Thanks! Do you know if this ended up in the patreon tab sheets?

Feb 14, 2020 - 6:02:38 AM
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stanger

USA

7271 posts since 9/29/2004

quote:
Originally posted by Mooooo

You can get some Clawjammer fingerpicks and use them for both Scruggs style and Clawhammer. They work like a charm, but get a little getting used to. They are all I use these days since 2018.


I've never seen these before, but they prove thre's nothing new under the sun.

Back in 1964, I soldered some old-style National fingerpicks together to get the same picks. Mine worked too, but I lost them as time passed, and I never got around to making any more of them.

regards,

stanger

Feb 14, 2020 - 9:58:28 AM

64 posts since 11/2/2009

More good information. Thank you. I will check out the links.

Feb 14, 2020 - 10:29:26 AM

adamf

UK

23 posts since 3/22/2017

quote:
Originally posted by RBagoly

I started learning Scruggs-style at a fairly young age, and try as i might, I CANNOT seem to learn clawhammer. My wrist just doesn’t want to move, and my fingers try to do all the work. I can do an approximation, but is sounds more Seeger style than anything else — definitely NOT clawhammer. But I CAN do a little bit with picks on, using the ring finger as mentioned above.


Have a look at Jim Pankey's "Clawhammer for bluegrass players" vids on youtube, it takes a bit of discipline, and you'll feel you've regressed to your early picking days, but two weeks down the line and I feel I've got the rhythm down and ready to start dropping that thumb... Don't worry though, it won't push the bluegrass out of yer brain!! 

Feb 14, 2020 - 7:01:05 PM
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64 posts since 11/2/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Keith Billik
quote:
Originally posted by Moose_Roberts

A recent guest on the Picky Fingers Banjo Podcast was doing just this. Keith Billik can you help us on on this one? I think it was the Gina Furtado or the BB Bowness episode.


Thank you. I did listen to that. Well into the podcast. About 37min into the podcast.

It was Gina. Yeah, listen to her episode to hear it explained and demonstrated. A good example of her using this technique is her song "Shame" from her new album. Pretty amazing how accurate it sounds!

Here's the song: https://youtu.be/7_7v1QXvYFY


Feb 17, 2020 - 4:23:49 PM
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1177 posts since 7/12/2004

Here's an example of the technique from a coffehouse performance we did a few years ago. The camera work shows the method pretty clearly.

 

Feb 17, 2020 - 7:19:54 PM
Players Union Member

Lew H

USA

2415 posts since 3/10/2008

That sorta looks like Pete Seeger's up picking.

Feb 19, 2020 - 6:31:01 AM
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102 posts since 4/8/2013

I have a hard time with clawhammer technique but a lot of clawhammer style songs can be played to a decent approximation using an old time two-finger style.

Edited by - johnny5000 on 02/19/2020 06:31:25

Feb 21, 2020 - 2:14:38 PM

103 posts since 4/30/2015

quote:
Originally posted by waystation

Here's an example of the technique from a coffehouse performance we did a few years ago. The camera work shows the method pretty clearly.

 


That's pretty nifty picking! Watched on my phone so I'm not 100% clear but.... looks like you're mixing up some 3-finger with some modified Pete Seeger style, using your ring finger for the downstroke? Sounds great!

Feb 21, 2020 - 3:01:59 PM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

92 posts since 8/9/2019

This thread got me thinking about the tune Lady Margaret on a Barry Hall banjo album.

youtu.be/_Ig5M2NLjx4

He plays mostly claw hammer throughout but this tune is played in a mutli finger downpicking style, similar to bluegrass banjo (I think) but to me it has that ancient sounding claw hammer feel to it. Could be of interest.

Feb 21, 2020 - 3:02:03 PM
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103 posts since 4/30/2015

Clawhammer picker who plays more 3-finger these days, checking in.

- Try some backwards alternating rolls: ITIT, MTIT, MTMT, ITMT.
- Pretty much always hit the 5th string with the 2nd T stroke.
- For the 1st T stroke:
a) skip it (I-IT for example), either letting 1st note ring (bum-ditty rhythm) or filling w/ hammer/pull/slide (bump-a-ditty)
b) hit the 5th string, emulating the clawhammer "double thumbing" stroke
- Stress the 1st note of a the rolls for the most part: *I*TIT, BUMP-a-ditty

Also check out chip arnold 's page here, especially his solo videos, and his lessons page: mountainbanjos.wordpress.com/t...-lessons/. He plays an old-time 2-finger index-lead style that is UP-picked with the index & doesn't use the "brush" sometimes mischaracterized as essential to clawhammer. Chip's style has a definite old-time sound quite similar to some of the more melody-driven clawhammer variants. In the videos & the tabs on his lessons page, you can see the I-IT and ITIT rolls that convert well to mixing in with Scruggs-style picking.

Edited by - ShhhItsASecret on 02/21/2020 15:03:23

Feb 21, 2020 - 11:55:49 PM
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Players Union Member

janolov

Sweden

40242 posts since 3/7/2006

Snuffy Jenkins, one of the first three-finger players, used his ring finger to clawhammer. He often played a clawhammer break between in between the three-finger breaks.

Feb 22, 2020 - 2:58:31 AM
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janolov

Sweden

40242 posts since 3/7/2006

You should also listen to George Pegram: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kjkbo6iTfgs. He uses the square roll (TITM) throughout the tune and he manage to get both some "clawhammer feeling" (=a steady rhythm) and some syncopations, characteristics for three-finger style..

Edited by - janolov on 02/22/2020 02:59:18

Feb 22, 2020 - 7:07:57 AM
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1177 posts since 7/12/2004

quote:
Originally posted by ShhhItsASecret
quote:
Originally posted by waystation

Here's an example of the technique from a coffehouse performance we did a few years ago. The camera work shows the method pretty clearly.

 


That's pretty nifty picking! Watched on my phone so I'm not 100% clear but.... looks like you're mixing up some 3-finger with some modified Pete Seeger style, using your ring finger for the downstroke? Sounds great!


I hadn't thought about the connection to Pete Seeger's style until people here started mentioning it. I remember seeing Don Stover mix 3-finger and clawhammer styles and wanted to get that sound. If I recall, he used to put his thumbpick in his mouth when he switched to clawhammer so he could get a more authentic sound, but I wanted to sing to the clawhammer rhythm, so that wasn't possible.

The style was perfect for the mood of this song, which switches back and forth in the lyrics between present and past. It also helped that we did the song in D, where the left hand positions are perfect for the style. The 5th string is tuned to A.

When I started out, the biggest challenge was not catching my middle finger and knocking the pick off on the downstrokes. It took a while to be able to do that reliably enough to avoid crashing and burning on stage. The second biggest challenge is aiming the index finger, which provides the melody, so I hit the strings I want to hit - especially the 4th. The picking pattern is IxRT or ITRT, where the R is a ring finger brush and the final T is always 5th string. The index finger does most of the heavy lifting, providing the melody along with lots of left-hand hammer-ons. It sounds like a lot of work but once you get the sense of what fingers are doing what it's pretty easy to overlay the melody onto that basic movement. Switching back and forth between styles is also pretty easy once you get the hang of the technique.

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