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Dec 7, 2020 - 7:11:50 AM
19 posts since 6/8/2020

Still pretty new to clawhammer but making some progress. I'm trying to develop my drop thumb and hoping you guys can suggest some beginner songs that won't overwhelm me too much.

Dec 7, 2020 - 7:54:56 AM
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266 posts since 9/8/2010

Try adding drop thumb to Cripple Creek

Dec 7, 2020 - 8:19:58 AM
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blazo

USA

282 posts since 5/16/2017

quote:
Originally posted by zanemoseley

Still pretty new to clawhammer but making some progress. I'm trying to develop my drop thumb and hoping you guys can suggest some beginner songs that won't overwhelm me too much.


Ken Perlman's 'Old Joe Clark' is a good drop thumb workout. https://www.hangoutstorage.com/banjohangout.org/storage/tabs/o/tab-old-joe-clark-14573-241202312011.pdf

Dec 7, 2020 - 8:22:05 AM

19 posts since 6/8/2020

quote:
Originally posted by rhnewsome

Try adding drop thumb to Cripple Creek


I  learned a basic version of CC recently from the Brainjo guy and have started adding a bit of DT to it. Since I'm new to DT its sometimes difficult to know exactly where to put it.

Dec 7, 2020 - 9:12:17 AM

609 posts since 10/9/2017

Check out Tom Collins's original "Banjo Blitz" videos on YouTube. He has several installments on drop thumb. He also revisits the topic in his second series, "Banjo Quest".

Dec 7, 2020 - 9:20 AM
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R Buck

USA

2906 posts since 9/5/2006

Old Molly Hare in double C or D

Dec 7, 2020 - 12:43:03 PM
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8199 posts since 3/17/2005

Bum-Ditty or Bum pa ditty. Really, for practice, you can drop your thumb to create the "pa" in bumpaditty any time you want.
Practicing just the DT (ITIT) without a tune, try strings 3-4-3-5, 2-3-2-5, 1-2-1-5.
Also 3-4-2-3-1-2-1-5
Or wider spaced patterns like 1-3-2-5, 2-3-1-5, etc.
And a sort of reverse roll: 1-2-3-5, 1-2-3-4, etc.
All of these and more are useful tools to have in your kit. Play around and see how you can use them in tunes that you are already comfortable with.
While you're at it, try alternate string pull offs (ASPO). You can pull off a fretted string or "pluck" an open string with your left hand. For instance in open G tuning you can run up a C chord thus: I on 2nd string first fret (bum), pluck 1st string open with your left hand (pa) I on 1st string at 2nd fret (dit), T on 5th string (ty). Try that sequence on the C chord in Cripple Creek. "Goin' up Cripple Creek (here: GO IN AT A) run".

Edited by - chip arnold on 12/07/2020 12:45:39

Dec 7, 2020 - 4:25:01 PM
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5949 posts since 3/11/2006

Adding a drop thumb to a tune you know sounds like a good idea.
Any place you have a bum-ditty figure just insert a thumbed note between the bum and the dit.

As far as knowing where to put a drop-thumb, just be guided by whether it sounds good to you or not.

Dec 7, 2020 - 6:22:30 PM

KatB

USA

160 posts since 9/3/2018

quote:
Originally posted by rhnewsome

Try adding drop thumb to Cripple Creek


Hilarie Burhans cripple Creek lesson with drop thumb

https://youtu.be/_9OOicV28J4

Hilarie has plenty of drop thumb incorporated into her lesson videos.

Zane, what tunes are you familiar with already? Are you playing in G/A or CC/DD?  

Dec 8, 2020 - 1:50:17 AM
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m06

England

9759 posts since 10/5/2006

The suggestions to add your own drop thumb to a tune that you already play are really good advice.

That way you acquire the sense from the get-go that use of drop thumb can be flexible and interchangeable. Put it in, take it out, switch it around with pull-offs and hammer-ons. You choose. The simplest drop thumb to start with is on open strings 1 and 2.

It's much easier and quicker to show then tell...I'm guessing you play Soldiers Joy? I've recorded it for you on my phone below as an example with just one drop thumb (open 1st and 2nd strings) for you. Here I play the A part once, and I choose to put that lone drop thumb in the last two bar resolve phrase which, for ease of hearing, I pause and play slowly twice. The drop thumb is on the third beat of the first bar of that two bar phrase (the first split beat you hear is a hammer-on). If you need me to write out that last 2 bar phrase just let me know.

Then just as a fun example of that sense of choice and 'switching' the B part played with no drop thumb at all followed by the B part again with drop thumb inserted all over the place.


Edited by - m06 on 12/08/2020 02:04:15

Dec 9, 2020 - 7:26:33 AM

19 posts since 6/8/2020

Thanks for all the suggestions, I'll work through some of them in my practice sessions. Currently I've been keeping my banjo in G but have played some in CC. I'm getting a second banjo soon which I'm looking forward to being able to keep one in G and the other in CC or others.

Jan 7, 2021 - 10:34:04 AM

trampagne

Sweden

13 posts since 6/8/2020

Just wanted to chime in and say that Brett Ridgeway has some really good lessons on drop and double thumbing, He explains and demonstrates it in a way that shows you how they differ and once you're comfortable with them, how you can interchange them.

youtu.be/a7uFU6xziEU

youtu.be/20b0vMpRta4

(currently learning this myself and wanted to share a resource that works for me as I am basically starting again from scratch with the basics after developing some bad habits and hitting a wall)

Edited by - trampagne on 01/07/2021 10:39:48

Jan 8, 2021 - 8:23:54 AM

Nickcd

UK

293 posts since 1/28/2018

Had a look at first video from Brett Ridgeway but seemed to my mind he was demonstrating 'm' skips as double thumbing.

As for drop thumbing exercises as mentioned above the Banjo Blitz series is good.

Edited by - Nickcd on 01/08/2021 08:25:37

Jan 8, 2021 - 8:58:58 AM

108 posts since 3/16/2014

Just my experience, but i struggled for a few years with developing my drop and double thumbing. Often my 'double thumbing' would actually be me speeding up the bumditty. Ultimately, one day i determined to just drill myself the same way as i had to learn to bumditty. Not thru playing tunes but just thru repeating the pattern over and over and over and... until it finally stuck. Then, just as the bumditty could be added to any melody line, so too can the double and drop thumb to a large extent.
Previous to my drilling it in, i had found that any tune i knew really well was fair game at comfortably adding some drops. i found it easier than trying to learn specific drops from tab.

Just some ideas..

Jan 8, 2021 - 1:07:27 PM

trampagne

Sweden

13 posts since 6/8/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Nickcd

Had a look at first video from Brett Ridgeway but seemed to my mind he was demonstrating 'm' skips as double thumbing.

As for drop thumbing exercises as mentioned above the Banjo Blitz series is good.


Seems that I spoke too confidently about something I had no clue about. Sorry about that OP. The "bad habits" that I mentioned earlier was me confusing regular Clawhammer bum-ditty with the double-thumbing, thinking that in order to play the normal clawhammer bum-ditty i needed to plant the thumb behind the 5th string and pluck at each eigth note.. When that would in fact be "double thumbing" (correct me if I'm wrong please) and it turns out I hadn't really developed any bad habits, yet at least. LOL. 

BanjoLemonade just uploaded a video on double thumbing that I believe makes sense, 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kn0AN3VT0ow

Jan 17, 2021 - 2:02:25 PM
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lmolter

USA

48 posts since 11/9/2015

I'm new to drop thumbing as well, even though I have been playing CW for about 5 years. But here's what I don't get: I took the basic melody for Angeline The Baker and embellished it for Clawhammer. I did not add any drop thumb because in my style of playing, I'm subconsciously adding hammer-ons and pull-offs between the melody notes that seem to fill any gaps. The result sounds similar to the song with drop thumbs added. Does this suffice? I can still do drop thumbs when I play slowly and I suppose I should get better so that I can incorporate them at speed. But a lot of the time, I just take a basic melody and CW it.

Jan 17, 2021 - 2:54:30 PM

m06

England

9759 posts since 10/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by lmolter

I'm new to drop thumbing as well, even though I have been playing CW for about 5 years. But here's what I don't get: I took the basic melody for Angeline The Baker and embellished it for Clawhammer. I did not add any drop thumb because in my style of playing, I'm subconsciously adding hammer-ons and pull-offs between the melody notes that seem to fill any gaps. The result sounds similar to the song with drop thumbs added. Does this suffice? I can still do drop thumbs when I play slowly and I suppose I should get better so that I can incorporate them at speed. But a lot of the time, I just take a basic melody and CW it.


If you like the sound then yes it does suffice. Coincidentally I just transcribed and recorded note-for-note Dent Wimmer's version of Shooting Creek attached below. He did not use drop thumb either and, like you preferred pull-offs, alternate string pull-offs and hammer-ons. His sound was anything but 'diminished' by lack of drop thumb; he had an incredibly full and powerful technique in which frequent brush emphasis of the bass string created a resonating wall of sound that can easily be mistaken for more than one banjo in the mix.

That said, IMHO it's always a good idea to be able to do something and then choose not to, rather than have to avoid because the technique hasn't been fully acquired.


Edited by - m06 on 01/17/2021 14:54:52

Jan 18, 2021 - 3:59:55 AM

AndyW

UK

743 posts since 7/4/2017

@m06

Would you say it is Fretless banjo where drop thumb comes into it's own, drop thumbing an open string allowing slightly better overall intonation, and good thumb control fitting in well with thumbing the 5th on the on beat??

Also, though I appreciate for folks who are just learning drop thumb it seems very difficult, once learned would you say drop thumb simplifies things overall for the left hand, making playing faster much easier??

I learned via the Dan Levenson method, drop thumbing early, and I wonder if this probably means my left hand isn't as accomplished as those learning via the bum-ditty route. Would you see any point in almost going back to scratch and learning bum-ditty banjo with no drop thumb as a way of improving left hand, or would that be rather pointless??

Jan 18, 2021 - 6:46:57 AM

jacot23

USA

168 posts since 12/13/2012

Agree with R Buck; Old Molly Hare is a great song for this.

Check out Mandy/Banjo Lemonade
youtu.be/k7YpMH0QEEo

Jan 18, 2021 - 7:56:06 AM

lmolter

USA

48 posts since 11/9/2015

Well, I stand corrected. In an earlier reply I mentioned that judicious use of hammer ons and pull offs could simulate drop thumbing. However, when I looked at Old Molly Hare, it became evident that this tune needs DT to make it sound right.

Jan 18, 2021 - 10:33:11 AM

m06

England

9759 posts since 10/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by AndyW

@m06

Would you say it is Fretless banjo where drop thumb comes into it's own, drop thumbing an open string allowing slightly better overall intonation, and good thumb control fitting in well with thumbing the 5th on the on beat??

Also, though I appreciate for folks who are just learning drop thumb it seems very difficult, once learned would you say drop thumb simplifies things overall for the left hand, making playing faster much easier??

I learned via the Dan Levenson method, drop thumbing early, and I wonder if this probably means my left hand isn't as accomplished as those learning via the bum-ditty route. Would you see any point in almost going back to scratch and learning bum-ditty banjo with no drop thumb as a way of improving left hand, or would that be rather pointless??


Learning drop thumb early, and without any sense that it is a big deal, is probably the ideal. If you did that you did well Andy.

I don't understand what 'bum-ditty' banjo means as a stylistic description? That beat/split beat is a rhythm pattern and a basic component part of any down-picked playing. To my ears drop thumb has a distinct sound; this can easily be compared to other techniques - they don't sound quite the same. To my hands drop thumb is so beautifully fluid, but I wouldn't confuse that with tempo; pulling off and hammering with the left hand can be done at speed.  I guess articulation is the word that describes the difference. Having learned drop thumb early is no reason to 'go back to scratch'. However it is fun and informative to explore playing styles that differ from your default. It can broaden understanding, range and your sound options if you know how to create a full and pleasing sound without technique(s) you normally rely on.

Neither is drop thumb specially applicable to fretless; it's just a technique choice from our 'toolkit'. Where a fretless is wildly unique is the beauty and subtlety of intonation that is neatly 'wired off' and unavailable on on a fretted banjo.

Edited by - m06 on 01/18/2021 10:53:37

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