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Sep 24, 2021 - 7:12:24 PM
3 posts since 9/24/2021

Hello all,

I've been learning clawhammer on guitar and banjo at once, but this seems the best place to come for questions on technique.

I find this happening a bit more on guitar with the drone string being low instead of high, but I can do it with both:

What happens is that as I try to increase speed, the best way I can explain it is that the pattern sort of involuntarily goes from bum-ditty to ba-bum-ditty, where on repetition, the 'ba' overlaps with 'ty', so I have this double sixteenth note happening on the drone string. I kind of like the sound of it, but also have for now taken to drilling both patterns so that I don't ingrain just the one.

I've looked up double thumbing, but unless I don't understand it(quite possible) it seems like that's something completely different, and while the rhythmic aspect of clawhammer feels more or less intact, I notice that my right hand is a lot less 'clawlike' in executing that double pluck.

So. What is this called? And am I destroying my foundations by keeping this up? I do have a tendency to learn new techniques from various disciplines and then combine them when it comes to guitar and banjo at least, but I can appreciate the need to build on solid basics before experimenting. Suggestions on how to proceed are welcome of course. Thanks :)

Edited by - Blargendarg on 09/24/2021 19:19:13

Sep 24, 2021 - 9:22:31 PM



231 posts since 12/13/2012

Check out my good friend Mandy(BanjoLemonade) doing a little drop thumbing:

Sep 25, 2021 - 4:09:46 AM



231 posts since 12/13/2012

Whoops, misread that you said double thumb,

Try this

Sep 25, 2021 - 5:19:24 AM



614 posts since 8/13/2015

Try holding your right hand wrapped around a credit card.

Sep 25, 2021 - 10:42:06 AM

3 posts since 9/24/2021

Yep, that was very clear- can confirm, it's neither drop or double thumbing. And the credit card is very helpful in keeping the thumb from wandering, though I find I can still do this thing I'm describing.

Another way to explain it would be that the second thumb stroke happens at the same time as the second finger downstroke(the 'ty' in bum-ditty) so yeah it's a 16th unlike the double thumb which both alternates with the finger stroke and is straight 8ths. I suspect if you were to look at it very closely, it's more of a flam, but for all intents and purposes it's striking simultaneously with the finger.

Edited by - Blargendarg on 09/25/2021 10:42:41

Sep 25, 2021 - 10:56:17 AM
like this

6019 posts since 3/11/2006

I'd just say that if you are trying to play a "bum-ditty", you want it to be a bum-ditty, not a ba bum ditty.  You want to be in control.

A bum-ditty is one of the foundational patterns. You want to be able to play it.  I'd consider just focussing on the banjo until you've got the basics down.

Also check out Dan Levenson's materials (he's on BHO) and maybe access Tony Spadero's "Rocket Science Banjo" through his BHO homepage.  Both of them consider the bum-ditty a compound pattern, considering the "ditty" as the basic unit.  A lot of times the way we conceptualize something can make all the difference.

Best of Luck.

Sep 25, 2021 - 12:13:22 PM
likes this

3 posts since 9/24/2021

I'd just say that if you are trying to play a "bum-ditty", you want it to be a bum-ditty"

Well taken. I'm going to continue drilling them separately. Considering no one has slapped a name on it indicates it's not that common, anyway, though I'll certainly find a use for it. In the meantime, there are plenty of fundamentals to work on. I am encouraged by how quickly it's coming together... certainly better than the Spanish guitar stuff which is very much a work in progress, although I think any type of picker ought to add the rasgueado to their stable- works great on nylon and steel guitar, banjo and mandolin-just needs adapting, so don't let the flamenco purists scare you off.

I'll take a look at those lessons... and with the understanding that this is a *banjo* hangout :), anybody here take a look at the lessons Steve Baughman has up for clawhammer guitar? He plays banjo as well, but as for translating it to guitar, I think his technique has the most fluidity and is more faithful to what's happening on banjo. 

ETA: looks like Steve also has a banjo course on his site,, called 'Zen Banjo' that I'm also interested in. What can I say- I dig his personality

A lot of times the way we conceptualize something can make all the difference.

Right on!

Edited by - Blargendarg on 09/25/2021 12:29:36

Sep 26, 2021 - 4:31:58 PM

6019 posts since 3/11/2006

Steve Baughman is great- my favorite CH guitarist. Check out his "California Roll" technique. Your lick makes me think of it, and my make the CA Roll a natural for you.

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