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Jul 15, 2020 - 12:36:32 AM



1914 posts since 11/8/2010

OK, this has probably been asked before. This is a Scruggs style melody pattern that appears similarly or identically in several breaks:


I usually play this with the middle on the 12th fret/1st string, pinky (Ibelieve) on the 14th, index on the 11th/2nd string lifting the middle finger from the 1st string (with the pinky already on the 14th giving cover) for the hammer-on on the 2nd string. It now occurred to me that Early with his super-movable pinky probably played this from a "Cumberland Gap" finger position, right? (which to this date is a problem to me to play up to (my) speed)

There is a similar situation in the up-the-neck break of "Salty Dog Blues" where it dawns on me that I cheat. There is this very nice roll over the A-chord using the open 5th as a 7th note and 13th/2nd and 11th/1st for the bluesy sound. I use to play this in a similarly lazy way as described above and now I think I probably should play it out of the "Cumberland Gap" finger position even though I don't need my middle finger for anything in that particular break.

Please tell me whether I have developed bad habits here...

Edited by - phb on 07/15/2020 00:37:57

Jul 15, 2020 - 4:42:11 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)


24653 posts since 8/3/2003

Do whatever works best for you.

That's the way I finger/pick that particular lick and whether it be right or wrong, it works for me and that's why I finger it that way.

Jul 15, 2020 - 5:31:23 AM
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801 posts since 2/15/2014

the Geoff Hohwald method...I barre it with index on string 1&2 fret 12, pinky on 14. I then use the index and slide 11 to 12th fret on second string instead of hammer on using my right hand thumb and middle to pick. to me the slide sounds better and you can put some bends or vibrato into the second string

Jul 15, 2020 - 10:29:43 AM
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10958 posts since 6/2/2008

Originally posted by phb

Please tell me whether I have developed bad habits here...

Philipp: I don't see any bad habits in what you've described.  I'll have to watch some old Earl Scruggs videos on YouTube to see if he's using the Sally Goodin'/Cumberland Gap position for that classic 12-14  11H12 lick.  I don't believe he is. And I believe the way you play it makes sense. I believe I play it the same way, but I'm sitting here without a banjo in hand, so I can't say for sure.

As to the A7 lick further up the neck, I would be very surprised to discover Earl playing that in the Sally Goodin' shape. The frets get very close together up there. Of course, Earl did a lot of stuff that surprised me, so what do I know?!

If you want to talk about lazy and bad habits, you should see how I do licks needing the 2nd string/11th fret out of the Sally Goodin/Cumberland Gap shape!

Jul 15, 2020 - 11:50:16 AM
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56 posts since 12/5/2015

When I do this, I use my middle (2nd String Fret12) and ring (1st string Fret12) to serve a a bar. I use my pinky (1st string Fret14) above the middle, and frets accordingly. I use my index (2nd string Fret11) to serve as the 'post' note of the hammer-on. There is a pic below.

I furthermore use this position to play more Scruggs licks and 'melodic chord' positions.

**Please allow me to use the term 'melodic chords'. They are positions that conform to scale notes. I call them chords as they can be moved around and are derived from closed positions.


Jul 22, 2020 - 11:09:28 AM
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2218 posts since 4/5/2006

There are those who make excuses, based on "Earl never did this" for anything (inside rolls) difficult. Myself included. Get over it. The number one rule in banjo picking is, there are no rules! Get the note any way you can. There are a lot of interesting ways to play Sally Goodin in that area of the neck. wink

Edited by - monstertone on 07/22/2020 11:15:42

Jul 23, 2020 - 8:48:15 AM



50976 posts since 10/5/2013
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I do that lick with ring on 14th , 1st string and slide index on 2nd string from 11 to 12 th fret. Not to get dogmatic, because Earl might have done it with a hammer-on also, the pic below is from his book so that’s why I learned it with the slide. If you watch Butch Robins’ entry today in “Sound Off”, you’ll see him doing it with a hammer-on.
As for “Salty Dog Blues” utn, Earl used the same pattern and chord “triangle” as “Cumberland Gap” only up 2 frets for the A chord, and moving his pinky on the 2nd string like he does in CG. Both techniques (the index slide and the pinky move) take a LOT of practice.


Edited by - chuckv97 on 07/23/2020 08:52:37

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