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Aug 8, 2020 - 7:51:28 PM
4024 posts since 10/18/2007

Recently a banjo instructor told me that my left hand should be positioned with the fingers starting on the second fret when playing in double C. Makes sense but I had never considered it before. What is the best position when playing in regular G? I came to clawhammer by way of bluegrass and always had my hand starting at the first fret.

Aug 8, 2020 - 8:10:10 PM

2225 posts since 5/2/2012

My first inclination is to say do what your teacher suggests, as there is probably a good reason for that suggestion. That said, I'm not sure what you mean by "...fingers starting on the second fret". I play a lot of Tony Ellis tunes in double C (using 2 finger, 3 finger and Scruggs picking) and I don't know if I've ever thought about placing my fingers at a certain fret when starting. Tony's tunes are usually arranged, within the first 7 frets, with some parts working higher up the neck (frets 10 -17). I guess I just start where the arrangment leads me. As I think about it, I'm not sure if there is much played on the first fret in his tunes.

Aug 8, 2020 - 8:48:22 PM

4024 posts since 10/18/2007

This old man,

That’s the thing. In double C I only hit the 1st fret occasionally. If It playing in C (D ,capo On 2) the “action” is on the 2,3, 4, and 5 frets.

Aug 9, 2020 - 3:02:03 AM
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2845 posts since 4/29/2012

I think what you are being told is to form the opening chord even if the opening note is open. So in double C you will usually be starting on a note of a C chord (probably the open 2nd) but should still be fretting the 1st string at fret 2 to avoid sounding a discordant D on the 1st string. So in open G, where all strings are part of your open G chord, this is not necessary.
Or he may be teaching you about preparation: Having the fingers available to do the next thing as soon as possible after they have finished doing the last thing. But this applies to playing any instrument in any style.

Aug 9, 2020 - 6:20:51 AM
Players Union Member

DC5

USA

13159 posts since 6/30/2015
Online Now

Yeah, what AndrewD said. It places your hand where you need minimal movement to play the most common notes in the C scale, or D scale if capoed at the second fret. For G tuning the most common notes are found on the first 4 frets. You're lucky your teacher taught you this, I only figured it out for myself recently. I was moving my hand way too much, and using my weak pinky instead of my strong ring finger more often than necessary.

Aug 9, 2020 - 8:45:02 AM

AndyW

UK

559 posts since 7/4/2017

I play in double C/D with forefinger at second fret. In G I play with forefinger at first fret, and often thumb the 5th string onbeat instead of pinkying the 1st 5th fret.

Aug 9, 2020 - 3:07:16 PM

32 posts since 7/16/2020

In double C tuning, to make a C major chord, you place a finger on the first string second fret.

To make a C minor chord, place a finger on the first string first fret.

So, your teacher is mistaken. You only need to fret the first string second fret when playing the high strings in C major. 

When playing the low strings it is very awkward and somewhat impossible to continually fret the first string. 

Edited by - Mister Lucky on 08/09/2020 15:19:27

Aug 10, 2020 - 5:19:08 AM

2993 posts since 10/17/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Cornflake

This old man,

That’s the thing. In double C I only hit the 1st fret occasionally. If It playing in C (D ,capo On 2) the “action” is on the 2,3, 4, and 5 frets.


For C,  you really don't need to put any finger on the first fret for OT clawhammer; it's only if you were playing chromatic notes or modulated chords. So it does make efficient sense to have your hand forward.

That said, I wouldn't overly think about the position for which tuning. As common for guitar... one pitfall that some beginners experience in like practicing scales, is getting  their hand too fixed in a spot; then have difficulties shifting efficiently (esp in making chords). Good to have flexible hand position, to be able adjust, shift around freely for what works optimum for you.

Aug 10, 2020 - 12:48:31 PM

32 posts since 7/16/2020

This video is very instructive:

Mr. Bob Thornburg playing Gospel Plow in double C tuning.

Watch his left hand. He frets the first string second fret when necessary, and removes the finger when doing his runs.

So, Cornflake, if you are accurately describing the instruction you received from your banjo teacher, I suggest you show this to your teacher, so that they can correct their mistake.

youtube.com/watch?v=EK74gZyKu4A

 

Edited by - Mister Lucky on 08/10/2020 13:01:23

Aug 10, 2020 - 1:29:59 PM

4024 posts since 10/18/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Mister Lucky

This video is very instructive:

Mr. Bob Thornburg playing Gospel Plow in double C tuning.

Watch his left hand. He frets the first string second fret when necessary, and removes the finger when doing his runs.

So, Cornflake, if you are accurately describing the instruction you received from your banjo teacher, I suggest you show this to your teacher, so that they can correct their mistake.

youtube.com/watch?v=EK74gZyKu4A

I may have been unclear in my original post. My instructor said as a fall-back position in double C  the left index finger should be on the second  string, not first. Your video confirms this .


Aug 10, 2020 - 1:59:02 PM

32 posts since 7/16/2020

Lol.

What you are saying now is quite different than what you said in your original post.

Incorrect information tends to lead to wasted effort.

Aug 11, 2020 - 12:59:17 AM
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AndyW

UK

559 posts since 7/4/2017

I don't think cornflakes original post was wrong at all. His original thought to play was to cover the first fret with his first finger as most folks would do in G/A. His instructor corrected this and told him to cover the second fret with his first finger as the first fret was rarely used.

So his instructor was correct.

Aug 17, 2020 - 6:58:43 AM

126 posts since 7/4/2008

Yes, your instructor is correct. The first fret is rarely, if ever, stopped when playing in Double C (or Double D) Tuning or, for that matter, in Sawmill Tuning. So the "first position" in those tunings, where your index finger is used, is at the second fret.

In Open G Tuning, however, the first fret is often stopped as in noting C or D7 for example. So the first position, when playing in that tuning, is at the first fret.

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