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Aug 3, 2021 - 1:07:49 PM
14 posts since 8/3/2021

Hey new to banjo here, and been browsing this site and watching lots of youtube, but i have a question i cant seem to find an answer to yet.

Coming from some guitar experience with heavy travis picking, i enjoyed the style of picking chords, and do love this travis picking methods.

The problem is im not sure what style to learn first. I can easily and if i want extremely fast 3 fingerpick, but at the same time i love the sound of clawhammer and strumming the chords.

What i would like to know is if there is a style that fingerpicks chords, 3 fingerstyle? I dont really enjoy going very fast tho, id rather sound good and melodic, not like a machine gun. Any advice on where i should focus first?

Aug 3, 2021 - 1:38:48 PM
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Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

9985 posts since 1/22/2003

quote:
Originally posted by wdh1974


What i would like to know is if there is a style that fingerpicks chords, 3 fingerstyle? I dont really enjoy going very fast tho, id rather sound good and melodic, not like a machine gun. Any advice on where i should focus first?


Listen to Dock Boggs… And Charlie Poole.

Edited by - Emiel on 08/03/2021 13:43:14

Aug 3, 2021 - 1:42:36 PM

1595 posts since 1/28/2013

Just play the chords of a song 3 finger style, and practice picking out the melody note while continuing the roll patterns.

Aug 3, 2021 - 1:45:50 PM
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Players Union Member

Emiel

Austria

9985 posts since 1/22/2003

Maybe, also develop your own style. The 5-string banjo is an instrument that invites you to develop your own style.

Aug 3, 2021 - 1:48:08 PM

wdh1974

USA

14 posts since 8/3/2021

Thanks for any info, ill check those guys out and maybe work on a pattern to target melodies.

Aug 3, 2021 - 2:08:01 PM
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Paul R

Canada

15141 posts since 1/28/2010

There's melodic three-finger, started out as Bluegrass but there are some who contend it ain't. Listen to Bill Keith's playing.

Clawhammer tends to be melodic, although folkie "frailing" (as defined by me - how pompous) is chord accompaniment to songs. (Others will have different definitions,) I doubt frailing would satisfy you. I'm just guessing, but I think Bluegrass or melodic clawhammer (e.g.: fiddle tunes) would be more up your alley.

Edited to add: Just FYI, I play fingerpisking guitar and clawhammer banjo, plus a bit of 2- and 3-finger banjo.  Here's a resoutce for 2FTL: https://2ftlbanjer.wordpress.com/

Edited by - Paul R on 08/03/2021 14:11:09

Aug 3, 2021 - 2:12:43 PM

wdh1974

USA

14 posts since 8/3/2021

I started trying to frail a few days ago, i got the basic rhythm down, and i spend a few minutes working up and down the strings, not sure if ill like it but cant hurt to keep my hands familiar with it. Since im new just looking until i find something to settle on heh.

Aug 3, 2021 - 2:24 PM
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YellowSkyBlueSun

Virgin Islands (U.S.)

446 posts since 5/11/2021

The following link is played in 3-finger style (aka Scruggs / bluegrass style).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMHMQeV9--U

You don't have to play super fast or sound like a machine gun. It can be slow and melodic too. 

Aug 3, 2021 - 2:27:03 PM

YellowSkyBlueSun

Virgin Islands (U.S.)

446 posts since 5/11/2021

quote:
Originally posted by wdh1974

I can easily and if i want extremely fast 3 fingerpick, 


Don't take this the wrong way, but can you actually play 3 finger style banjo easily and fast? Usually when guitarists say this, they end up playing triplets and not really capturing the syncopated rhythmic nuance of 3-finger rolls that are expected on the banjo. 3 finger banjo is it's own rhythmic style that isn't directly related to guitar fingerstyles or travis picking.

Edited by - YellowSkyBlueSun on 08/03/2021 14:31:44

Aug 3, 2021 - 2:50:36 PM

2620 posts since 5/2/2012

Some key questions. What type (genre) of music do you currently play? want to learn to play on the banjo? Do you want to play for yourself, play with others in a jam situation, play in a band? Do you want play tunes (instrumentals) or songs (singing while playing)? How do you learn - by listening, watching, tab?

Eddie Collins did a utube lesson on Travis picking on the banjo, 3 finger style, which you might find interesting. Ken Perlman has a video on Travis picking rhythms on the banjo, clawhammer style.

I started with clawhammer, quickly switched over to 2 finger thumb lead, and finally settled on 3 finger (Scruggs style). The tunes I have been working on are a mix of bluegrass, what I would consider old time style tunes played at a moderate pace using 3 finger and 2 finger styles (Tony Ellis tunes), and fiddle tunes (some melodic, some bluegrass style (the last from Eddie Collins fiddle tunes book).

Edited by - thisoldman on 08/03/2021 15:02:39

Aug 3, 2021 - 3:22:44 PM

wdh1974

USA

14 posts since 8/3/2021

good point yellow lol, it is timings im not used to. So youre probably right. If i had to pick a genre it would be old time old style. I think singing and playing would be cool and thats had me reading about two-finger and of course, there is clawhammer. Lots to work through and find my spot.

The genere i somewhat played was a slower melodic sad type, usually just running chord progressions diatonics.

Aug 3, 2021 - 3:25:07 PM
Players Union Member

dbrooks

USA

4141 posts since 3/11/2004

Daniel, you may want to view this video from Josh Turknett with an overview of banio styles:

(555) The Ultimate Guide to 5-String Banjo Styles (Banjo Essential Knowledge Series) - YouTube

I will add that I started out on guitar with Travis picking. In high school and college (decades ago) I picked up the banjo playing Scruggs style and folk style up-picking. Nearly 20 years ago, I came back to the banjo to learn clawhammer, which is my main style today. My Travis habits, particularly the  thumb laying down a solid bass beat, helped me develop a bad habit plucking the 5th string in clawhammer. In clawhammer, the corner of the thumb flicks out as the hand is rising for the next downstroke. I was picking downward with the thumb. A workshop with Dan Levenson helped me identify that bad habit, and several weeks of slow practice helped me correct it.

You might look formvideos by Dan Levenson, Josh Turknett and Tom Collins if you decide on the clawhammer path.

David

Aug 3, 2021 - 3:37:23 PM

wdh1974

USA

14 posts since 8/3/2021

thanks man, so much good info. I hope my travis style isnt hurting me, i got the same bum diddy sound, maybe ill do a video of it and upload. Muscle memory can be good and bad for something i guess lol.

Aug 3, 2021 - 3:49:53 PM
Players Union Member

dbrooks

USA

4141 posts since 3/11/2004

You may be just fine, Daniel. I began trying to play at a fast tempo too early, before I had a good right-hand stroke.

David

Aug 3, 2021 - 4:10:06 PM

wdh1974

USA

14 posts since 8/3/2021

I think im gonna do the smart thing(maybe) and start with two-finger, given muscle memory ill just let my fingers do what they want as long as im in time, i know my middle finger is gonna drive me nutts wanting to move. This should be fine right? i get the feeling banjo isnt some rigid science but kinda doing what works...timing is so important in music so as long as im within in those rules, ill be fine is my line of thinking.

Aug 3, 2021 - 5:29:32 PM

12416 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by wdh1974

What i would like to know is if there is a style that fingerpicks chords, 3 fingerstyle? . . . Any advice on where i should focus first?


Of course there's three-finger chord picking. There's even Travis picking on the banjo. So you could try that, realizing you won't have a bass note below D, so you might have to adjust.

I'd say after learning some banjoistic rolls or picking patters (to get used to the differences between banjo and guitar) listen to chord-based backup. Maybe a lot of old Flatt and Scruggs so you can hear how Earl did it. Most of the banjo world has been copying him for going on 80 years.

"Square roll" (thumb-index-thumb-middle, often on 3-2-5-1) and forward-backward or "reverse" roll (T-I-M-T-M-I-T-M, often on 3-2-1-5-1-2-3-1 -- but with variations that include the 4th string) are particularly good for picking chords. Fine for accompaniment, but if you want to convey melody, you typically can't stick with one pattern. Even backup/accompaniment is better with variety. There are more rolls and patterns, of coourse, but I mention these to convey that arpeggiating chords is what 3-finger banjo is all about.

To get started, find some free online lessons (Jim Pankey is good) or buy one of the beginner banjo method books (Alan Munde, Ned Luberecki, Jack Hatfield, Janet Davis) and follow the lessons in order. You may well blow through them. Could be all you need is to learn the mechanics of banjo picking and then you'll be able to produce the music you hear in your head.

Good luck.

Aug 3, 2021 - 5:36:51 PM

12416 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by wdh1974

I think im gonna do the smart thing(maybe) and start with two-finger, given muscle memory ill just let my fingers do what they want as long as im in time,  . . . This should be fine right? i get the feeling banjo isnt some rigid science but kinda doing what works...timing is so important in music so as long as im within in those rules, ill be fine is my line of thinking.


If all you want to do is make pleasing sounds to entertain yourself and friends or even play with others who are aren't actual bluegrassers, then do what brings you enjoyment.

Some players, in fact, make beautiful, flowing and sophisticated music in two-finger style. Do yourself a favor and search out videos of Nick Hornbuckle. Here he is, playing Cold Frosty Morning. And here he is in a band setting, playing Salt Stream.  Close your eyes, and you'd swear it's three-finger.

But that's really advanced two-finger style. And two-finger is not necessarily the way to start if what you want to play is three-finger.

There are no rules. Do what makes you happy.

Edited by - Old Hickory on 08/03/2021 17:40:45

Aug 3, 2021 - 6:24:45 PM
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wdh1974

USA

14 posts since 8/3/2021

that cold frosty morning is pretty much the sound im looking for. thanks :)

Aug 3, 2021 - 6:55:09 PM

12416 posts since 6/2/2008

Well, Nick sells the tab for that tune.  $7.50.

He also sells several books. But descriptions for some of them say "3 finger."  There are tab books for some of his albums, so I would assume those are 2-finger.

You could write to him to ask. Or reach out to him through the Hangout. He's a member here and pops into conversations from time to time.

Aug 3, 2021 - 10:13:45 PM

1818 posts since 7/4/2009

quote:
Originally posted by wdh1974

....i love the sound of clawhammer and strumming the chords.


You'll find that most traditional clawhammer players don't do a lot of "strumming" or use a lot of heavy brushes.

If you like strumming chords, you might look into up-picking (so-called "Seeger style").

Aug 3, 2021 - 11:04:21 PM
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Paul R

Canada

15141 posts since 1/28/2010

Nick Hornbuckle's two-finger style comes from necessity. It seems he doesn't have use of the third finger, thus he uses two to sound like three.

Aug 4, 2021 - 6:25:34 AM
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gailg64

USA

1145 posts since 1/7/2007

There's also old-time 3 finger picking, also known as Charlie Poole style. It's not bluegrass, well maybe "pre-bluegrass" and is a wonderful versatile style in its own right. Google Kinney Rorrer of Danville, VA.

Aug 4, 2021 - 7:56:19 AM

wdh1974

USA

14 posts since 8/3/2021

The depth and styles are amazing for banjo, so much great information thanks everyone :)

Aug 4, 2021 - 10:30:30 AM
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8292 posts since 3/17/2005

Nick Horbuckle has been mentioned. He's an awesome player.

Don Borchelt plays Old Time tunes in a beautiful, melodious 3-finger style. One of the best anywhere. He has a presence here on BHO but I can't find his page. Here is his website. Do yourself a favor and give him a listen. banjr.com/

I play a 2-finger, index lead style and have some music and a few tabs here on BHO.
banjohangout.org/myhangout/mus...p?id=6347

Aug 5, 2021 - 10:28:45 AM
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8292 posts since 3/17/2005

For the OP, I found Don Borchelt's music here. click on media ...



banjohangout.org/my/Don+Borchelt

Edited by - chip arnold on 08/05/2021 10:29:49

Aug 5, 2021 - 1:23:25 PM

wdh1974

USA

14 posts since 8/3/2021

Thanks man for the links, all great info, just reading a lot and practicing, arm is hurting, not used to stretching out that far lol, all good tho.

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