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Sep 8, 2021 - 12:14:37 PM

lucass

USA

23 posts since 1/4/2020

In Dan Levenson's book Kyle Creed: Clawhammer Banjo Master, he writes "Kyle muted his fifth string, probably because of his constant use of the string as every other note", but stops there without going into any more detail.

Does anyone know his method of muting the fifth string? Light contact with the arm? Something actually on the string?

I often get a nice effect with a rolled shirtsleeve that allows me to ride the fifth without it becoming overpowering. Do any of you players have a method to actively mute your fifth string?

Sep 8, 2021 - 12:27:40 PM
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344 posts since 4/14/2014

I remember Frank Lee would put a small piece of electric tape or cork on the fifth string right close to the bridge. This is pretty effective. I should note that a little tape goes a long way.

I've known other folks who, when changing strings would take the old first string and use it as the new fifth. 

Edited by - Nic Pennsylvania on 09/08/2021 12:28:45

Sep 8, 2021 - 12:32:42 PM
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lucass

USA

23 posts since 1/4/2020

Couldn't ask for a better first response, thanks Nic. That's a great bit of knowledge, Frank Lee is another fifth string rider for sure.

I knew there had to be something physical that people did (or tried), what with all the pot stuffing/taping that goes on.

Sep 8, 2021 - 1:57:08 PM

R Buck

USA

2985 posts since 9/5/2006

I use what I have heard called the "ham" of the thumb to stop the string from ringing after hitting the 5th string. That would be my right hand as I am right handed on banjo. It is quite effective and part of a proper clawhammer approach in my experience.

Sep 8, 2021 - 2:51:38 PM
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1613 posts since 2/9/2007
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Perhaps he meant that Kyle muted the string with his thumb. It sounds to me like that's what he was doing-- cutting that thumb string note short by getting the thumb right back onto the string. He kept the thumb string going most all the time, but it was always well controlled, usually an almost subliminal percussive "tick" that didn't ever sound nearly as annoying and repetitive as what you'd imagine from reading a literal transcription of his playing. When he wanted to let the thumb string note ring out, though, he was quite able to do that.

Even if he did have the 5th string muted with some kind of damper at the bridge and/or the pip, it wasn't very far out of balance with the tone of the other strings. It would have been a very small adjustment in the sound. Even when you consider all of his very individual takes on banjo design and setup, the vast majority of his sound came from the way he played.

Sep 8, 2021 - 3:07:49 PM
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4119 posts since 11/29/2005

Clawdan - Maybe you can chime in on this? Interesting conversation.

Sep 8, 2021 - 3:25:37 PM

lucass

USA

23 posts since 1/4/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Dan Gellert

Perhaps he meant that Kyle muted the string with his thumb. It sounds to me like that's what he was doing-- cutting that thumb string note short by getting the thumb right back onto the string. He kept the thumb string going most all the time, but it was always well controlled, usually an almost subliminal percussive "tick" that didn't ever sound nearly as annoying and repetitive as what you'd imagine from reading a literal transcription of his playing. When he wanted to let the thumb string note ring out, though, he was quite able to do that.

Even if he did have the 5th string muted with some kind of damper at the bridge and/or the pip, it wasn't very far out of balance with the tone of the other strings. It would have been a very small adjustment in the sound. Even when you consider all of his very individual takes on banjo design and setup, the vast majority of his sound came from the way he played.


Speaking of consistency across the strings, we're also hearing the "muted" fifth against every other string being struck with the brass fingerpick. 
 

I guess our real question is whether the muting happens at all times, effecticing attack and sustain, or if it is just after the strike, only effecting sustain. I feel like I hear attack being cut quick, however his "roll" rings like a bell. 

Sep 8, 2021 - 4:19:55 PM
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m06

England

10371 posts since 10/5/2006

Kyle Creed knocked back the ringing of his 5th string by threading the string through a tiny section of electrical wire insulation sleeve resting in the slot of the 5th string nut. He was by all accounts a practical and highly inventive man. His solution was very simple, unobtrusive (to the point of almost invisible and very hard to spot) and we can safely assume it reduced the ringing of the string precisely how he liked it.

He frequently used consecutive thumb string notes and knocking the ringing back maybe gave those notes slightly shorter duration and greater clarity.

Edited by - m06 on 09/08/2021 16:36:56

Sep 8, 2021 - 4:34:08 PM
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Clawdan

USA

3493 posts since 3/12/2006

quote:
Originally posted by banjo_brad

Clawdan - Maybe you can chime in on this? Interesting conversation.


Thanks for writing! Figuring out what was done and remembering what was written several years ago is not always easy. wink Let me check the book but I believe it would have been Bob C that made that note. I will check with him as well.

Stay tooned!

PS, Forwarded the question to Bob C. and yes the bio was written by him (or perhaps even a 3rd party - will check) so I can't speak to it knowledgabley.

Edited by - Clawdan on 09/08/2021 16:41:55

Sep 8, 2021 - 4:47:34 PM

Jim Yates

Canada

6776 posts since 2/21/2007

 

I have used a small tap washer.  I cut a slit from the centre out and put it on the bridge touching the 5th string.


Edited by - Jim Yates on 09/08/2021 16:48:34

Sep 8, 2021 - 5:43:38 PM
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199 posts since 2/14/2010

Kyle slid the 5th string thru 22ga - 24ga telephone wire insulation and just set it in the 5th nut slot. Does make a slight difference. I do this on all my banjos.

Sep 9, 2021 - 7:49:45 AM
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Clawdan

USA

3493 posts since 3/12/2006

Hi All,

Kevin has the basic for you and that is what Bob said, more specifically he used the insulation off of telephone wire. Also Kyle used a straight slot screw for the fifth string pip/nut so he could raise and lower it as he wanted so the insulation also softened the sound of the string on the metal screw. So, no special awkward hand things to do when you strike the string.

This is not unlike most violin/fiddle players do for their E and sometimes A strings where they cross the bridge. There is a fiber/rubber sleeve that comes with the strings and often it is on the string already (you have to remember to take it off if you don't use it because it will rattle if not held in place). SO you might want to find one of those to try for it.

Another thing I used to do was to put a very small piece of leather under the 5th string at the nut to accomplish the same thing. Mark O used a piece of duct tape.

I hope this all helps. Experimentation is the key to great banjo playing!

Play Nice,
Dan Clawdan Levenson

Now accepting a limited number of new students in person (Tucson, AZ) or by webcam. PM me if interested.

Sep 9, 2021 - 9:16:32 AM
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lucass

USA

23 posts since 1/4/2020

Everyone, thank you for contributing your insight and knowledge. I'm kind of shocked that I haven't come across this, it seems like it could really be a distinctive element of one's sound.

Seems like it could have as much effect on sound as head stuffing, scale length, fingernail type, string gauge, head material, tension, and all the other esoteric minutia that we players tweak to find our sound.

I'm excited to try it out, thank you again everybody!

Sep 9, 2021 - 8:48:03 PM

HERMES

USA

551 posts since 2/7/2006

on the topic of KYLE CREED....did he usually put frosted top heads on his banjos?
I'm not sure exactly what was available at the time (certainly not Renaissance, maybe not fibersykn)

Sep 9, 2021 - 9:00:59 PM
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NWBanjo

USA

623 posts since 1/19/2006

Kevin Fore is the expert on Kyle Creed and may chime in, but yes, I believe he usually used a frosted head. My Kyle Creed came with the original head and it’s a frosted Remo from 1976. I also have an amazing fretless made by Kevin and it has the telephone wire insulation on the fifth string. It's a subtle difference, but I really like it. All that said, if there's one thing I've learned over the years (and this is to Dan Gellert's point), it's not about the banjo, but how it's played.
 

Edited by - NWBanjo on 09/09/2021 21:11:05

Sep 11, 2021 - 6:54:23 PM
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199 posts since 2/14/2010

Kyle mainly used frosted top heads and a few skin heads along the way...

Sep 12, 2021 - 8:44:36 AM

17 posts since 7/5/2021

I've heard of some using the small plastic tubing sleeves that come for some fiddle/violin strings. You can always ask your fiddle player to save them for you when they change their strings.

Sep 27, 2021 - 7:28:27 AM

83 posts since 9/7/2010

My Creed banjo came with a skin head. No telephone wire insulation that I recall.

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