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May 15, 2021 - 6:16:58 PM
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39 posts since 4/25/2021

I started playing mandolin with a strap and never liked where it was. I was always trying to re-arrange it but it was an a-style with no button and everything I tried seemed like all cons, no pros. One day mid-experiment I got distracted and it never went back on.

When I first picked up the banjo it was so much heavier I was afraid I'd need one, but the arm rest.. that's all new to me - I feel like the banjo is much easier to hold. It practically holds itself.

Is that a beginner's delusion? If it seems that easy to hold, am I doing something wrong? My right arm isn't sore after so I don't think I'm mindlessly squeezing on the arm rest or anything - I think it just sits nicely. Right were my left tricep meets the rear deltoid is a little tired when I'm done playing, but I don't thikn it's holding anything other than my own arm. I think I'm actually worse at holding every other instrument I've ever played. Is it really that easy to hold?

My viola teacher used to call me "Redpack" because "if I put a tomato there you'd be making paste" because I've always gripped everything too hard - I play a little flute too - same problem. So I just want to make sure I'm not starting out with bad habits.

I had another neurotic question I was going to ask but I forgot it - I'll probably reply to myself at like 4 am...

May 15, 2021 - 6:27:37 PM
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552 posts since 6/2/2011

Lrobibly not a good idea to hold up by arm rest and left hand. You will need to change your right hand position from near bridge to close to end of fretboard and all points in between for tonal changes. Hard to do if supporting banjo with right hand or arm. Also, as you learn to play up the neck your left hand needs to be free.

May 15, 2021 - 6:31:26 PM
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39 posts since 4/25/2021

I'm bad with words - I'm saying the opposite - I don't feel it - it just seems to hold itself like magic - my left arm is just sore from holding itself up (you can keep your chickenwing tucked into your ribs playing a tiny little mandolin - it's like I have to put my arm up to space to get to the first fret). And I don't think I'm holding it with my right arm - it seems too easy. I should maybe find my phone and take a picture. Because my words are just confusing. And pictures are worth a 1000 of them - but without being confusing...

May 15, 2021 - 6:34:48 PM
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552 posts since 6/2/2011

I love A style mandolins, some I loop a leather shoe string under the fingerboard at the body if a raised fret board, the tie the strap to the leather lace. I also have buttons put on the heel to attach a strap. I stand even when practicing so I have the same feel of my instruments: banjo, mandolin, fiddle or guitar.

May 15, 2021 - 9:15:54 PM

1248 posts since 8/7/2017

I have 4 banjos: 3 need straps to stay in place, one does not (while pot rests on thighs while I'm sitting).

If you are not using your hands or arms to keep banjo in place, then nothing to worry about, I'd say. But I agree with previous posters that free movement of both arms is necessary to play well.

I need to support the stay-in-place banjo with padding between banjo and thighs: it's a heavy Stelling w/o the resonator, and the bracket ring has an edge that digs into my thighs w/o some padding. The padding is a piece of hot water pipe insulation, made of soft black plastic foam (got at hardware). The padding would slip on my thighs, so I stuck on a strip of the gritty tape sold to fix slippery steps. The combination of grit and insulation keeps the Stelling upright w/o arm or hand pressure.

The Stelling is too heavy for me to hold with a strap while standing at my age, but I used a strap when I was younger and played it while standing.

Edited by - BrooksMT on 05/15/2021 21:17:49

May 16, 2021 - 1:02:05 AM
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790 posts since 7/4/2017

2 main ways of holding an openback(which I think you have from your other thread) banjo whilst sitting. I thought I would point this out as many 'lap' players are unaware of the 'thigh' method.

1. Pot in lap between thighs.
2. Pot on RH thigh.

1. The neck is counterbalanced by angling it up a bit. Some players wear a strap to help. There are 2 main benefits of holding this way that I can see. One is that you can easily hold a resonator banjo the same way. Second is that it's easy to play in a chair with arms holding it this way. It has a major drawback for me in that the left arm has to extend outwards a fair bit and gets tired easily.

2. This method counterbalances the neck by using the right arm elbow/forearm to prevent the banjo neck falling. It's awkward at first as there'e a learning process in how much pressure to apply (a cushion can help whilst getting used to it). This method has the benefit of drawing the banjo to the right so the left arm doesn't have to extend out too much. It also allows you to sit the neck much more horizontally than 1 which for me is much more comfortable. The main drawback(apart from the learning process) is that it's very difficult to play in a chair with arms. Unlike stated by someone else I find it's quite easy to move the hand closer or farther from the bridge whilst controlling the pot/neck with the right forearm.

My preference is to use 2 most of the time switching to 1 when I sit in a chair with arms.

May 17, 2021 - 10:11:38 PM
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Paul R


14495 posts since 1/28/2010

Perhaps you're not used to reaching that far when you are fretting near the peghead.

My main banjos are an open-back and a resonator. So there's a difference in the way they settle, because of the larger dimensions of the resonator. I found, at jams with the resonator, that pulling the strap snugly over the left shoulder and leaning back in the chair to keep it in place made for a solid picking platform. I don't feel the need to do this with the open-back. The resonator also makes it just that little bit farther to reach with the left hand. (But the resonator feels better than all that hardware digging into your lap.)

Jun 4, 2021 - 10:05:55 AM

3 posts since 6/2/2021

I thought it was just me as a beginner with such a question or the experience of the hardware digging into my lap.
It is reassuring to hear that even people who allready know how to play the banjo have these issues sometimes.

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