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Sep 16, 2020 - 12:47:14 AM
31 posts since 8/17/2020

Hi

I am now in possession of my first 5 starting banjo, a Wildwood Minstrel.

I am a guitar player of 30 years or more so right and left-hand dexterity shouldn't be too much of an issue for me.

What tunes should I start on?

I am assuming three finger style would be easiest to step into, I am also planning on getting used the basic clawhammer rhythm/lick.

Regards

Seg

Sep 16, 2020 - 3:18:35 AM

Bill H

USA

1364 posts since 11/7/2010

The classic first tune for both clawhammer and Scruggs style banjo is Cripple Creek. But really there are so many directions to go in with banjo. It boils down to what do you like? Bluegrass, jazz, Irish music, old time fiddle tunes, ragtime... ? Do you have a favorite band or individual player you like?

I suppose there are those who find three finger banjo easy to learn. I am not one of them. Clawhammer for me somehow made more sense initially.

Sep 16, 2020 - 3:24:04 AM

31 posts since 8/17/2020

Hi Bill

I listen to Jason Romero, Bob Carlin etc

I want to avoid picks if I can so pure Bluegrass style is probably out of the questions old-time country music is my main interest.

Regards

John

Sep 16, 2020 - 4:04:20 AM
likes this

55384 posts since 12/14/2005

Old time country music is just "3 chords and The Truth!"

One of my favorites for beginners is
"Boil Them Cabbage Down"
And it's true! Cabbage can be boiled.

And many of the verses are fundamentally true, as in

Raccoon's got a fluffy tail,

Possum's tail is bare.

Rabbit got no tail at all,

Just a little bitty hunk of hair!

and the lonesome lament

Wish I had a pretty girl,

I'd put her on a shelf!

And once I got her up there,

I'd climb up there, myself!

Sep 16, 2020 - 5:11:31 AM
Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

797 posts since 10/15/2019
Online Now

No matter what style (I'm partial to up-picking, aka Seeger basic strum), the first tunes are Bile 'Em Cabbage Down ( for basic chord changes and structure), learn it in both G and C, Cripple Creek (great tune in G), Soldier's Joy (great tune in C), and Cluck Old Hen ( Intro to G Modal, aka "sawmill" or "mountain minor").

Sep 16, 2020 - 5:24:56 AM

AndyW

UK

554 posts since 7/4/2017

Clawhammer is easier to get your head around than 3 finger picking because finger-thumb-finger-thumb fits neatly into 4.

Rather than jumping into tunes I would recommend working on the clawhammer basic strum, double thumb and drop thumb first. All handily covered in Dan Levensons 'Clawhammer Banjo From Scratch' book, or the free pdf download 'Rocketsciencebanjo' by Tony Spadero.

Dan's book works really well for a former guitar player as it is very right hand focussed at the start.

Sep 16, 2020 - 5:50:25 AM

82 posts since 9/14/2019

quote:
Originally posted by AndyW

Clawhammer is easier to get your head around than 3 finger picking because finger-thumb-finger-thumb fits neatly into 4.

Rather than jumping into tunes I would recommend working on the clawhammer basic strum, double thumb and drop thumb first. All handily covered in Dan Levensons 'Clawhammer Banjo From Scratch' book, or the free pdf download 'Rocketsciencebanjo' by Tony Spadero.

Dan's book works really well for a former guitar player as it is very right hand focussed at the start.


I played 3-finger style for years before I came to CH in June.  I have to say that 3-finger style made more sense to me.  CH isn't harder per se, but I don't believe that CH is easier either.  Both take lots of boring repitition to get the basics down.

 

John

Sep 16, 2020 - 5:59:03 AM

AndyW

UK

554 posts since 7/4/2017

quote:
Originally posted by watercarving
quote:
Originally posted by AndyW

Clawhammer is easier to get your head around than 3 finger picking because finger-thumb-finger-thumb fits neatly into 4.

Rather than jumping into tunes I would recommend working on the clawhammer basic strum, double thumb and drop thumb first. All handily covered in Dan Levensons 'Clawhammer Banjo From Scratch' book, or the free pdf download 'Rocketsciencebanjo' by Tony Spadero.

Dan's book works really well for a former guitar player as it is very right hand focussed at the start.


I played 3-finger style for years before I came to CH in June.  I have to say that 3-finger style made more sense to me.  CH isn't harder per se, but I don't believe that CH is easier either.  Both take lots of boring repitition to get the basics down.

 

John


I think clawhammer is more difficult initially just to get the basics right.  Once you've got those though then you are 90 percent of the way there.  I find it much more intuitive than 3 fingers trying to fit into 4 where you can need a number of measures to resolve things.

Sep 16, 2020 - 6:21:55 AM

carlb

USA

2143 posts since 12/16/2007

When I started banjo (also came from guitar), I worked on getting my clawhammer motion relaxed without doing any drop thumb. Also, I had some tunes in my head and used them by finding the notes that would fit to that melody and chord structure. Once my right hand was relaxed, I then proceeded to find a tune that I could drop thumb to a melody note, so I could get used to that motion. I did feel like I had to work, again, at getting my hand relaxed, but it didn't take as long as it did, at the beginning, without drop thumb.

Sep 16, 2020 - 6:55:08 AM

2221 posts since 5/2/2012

This is a good intro to clawhammer 8 steps   I played a bit of CH in the beginning, and getting that clawhammer stroke down is a must.  I used Mike Iverson's site (now under construction) for ideas.  It's really important to have the tune in your head when learning, as you probably know, so start with familiar tunes you already know.  By 3 finger you mean Scruggs style, my personal experience is that it is not easier to step into.  If by 3 finger in "old time" style, I'm not sure about that .  I played 2 finger thumb lead for a long time after switching from CH, and I would say it wasn't necessarily easier, just different.  Be patient, persevere, and enjoy the (banjo) journey.  

Sep 16, 2020 - 7:40:16 AM

7093 posts since 11/4/2005

Bill wrote: "I suppose there are those who find three finger banjo easy to learn. I am not one of them. Clawhammer for me somehow made more sense initially."

Andy wrote: "Clawhammer is easier to get your head around than 3 finger picking because finger-thumb-finger-thumb fits neatly into 4."

Clawhammer is about learning two or three really hard things, and three finger picking is about learning a thousand really easy things. I would pick one of them and stick with it for awhile, and then add the other. I would not suggest trying to master both at once. Oh, and forget about your guitar right hand, it's a whole different mindset, either style.

Sep 16, 2020 - 7:59:35 AM

31 posts since 8/17/2020

re Boil Em Cabbage Down, there are many versions in the TAB library, can anyone recommend one.

Ideally, I would like to hear it as I listening to the original is half the battle

Seg

Sep 16, 2020 - 8:30:16 AM
Players Union Member

Eric A

USA

797 posts since 10/15/2019
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Segovia123

re Boil Em Cabbage Down, there are many versions in the TAB library, can anyone recommend one.

Ideally, I would like to hear it as I listening to the original is half the battle

Seg


This one is kind of fun.  Plenty of lyrics so you get the basic melody in your head.  Grandpa Jones is frailing it (aka clawhammer) while the rest are 3 finger.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUrqV7RfcqA

Edited by - Eric A on 09/16/2020 08:30:48

Sep 16, 2020 - 8:51:35 AM

996 posts since 1/9/2012

Be sure to include something you like to sing.

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