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Sep 28, 2021 - 4:31:17 PM
21 posts since 9/21/2021

Hey guys appreciate the help you can give me here. Finally got my first banjo yesterday, a Gold Tone CC-50. Trying the claw hammer form and the bum diddy.

I have a bad habit of accidentally learning bad forms or techniques when self teaching myself instruments so I want to avoid that here!

Does my claw hammer form look okay? I know my thumbs bent but it's more comfortable for me to play that way it seems..

Thanks guys! Means a lot. Learning from Dan Levenson's book and YouTube.


vimeo.com/617424734

vimeo.com/617424890

Edit: got my wife to record a video of me, hope this helps. 

http://vimeo.com/617438258

Edited by - Alrashid2 on 09/28/2021 16:52:11

Sep 28, 2021 - 4:59:43 PM

596 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Alrashid2

Hey guys appreciate the help you can give me here. Finally got my first banjo yesterday, a Gold Tone CC-50. Trying the claw hammer form and the bum diddy.

I have a bad habit of accidentally learning bad forms or techniques when self teaching myself instruments so I want to avoid that here!

Does my claw hammer form look okay? I know my thumbs bent but it's more comfortable for me to play that way it seems..

Thanks guys! Means a lot. Learning from Dan Levenson's book and YouTube.


vimeo.com/617424734

vimeo.com/617424890

Edit: got my wife to record a video of me, hope this helps. 

http://vimeo.com/617438258


Hello, fellow Pennsyltuckyian! (Im from SE PA),

I love frailing/clawhammer, and you seem to be getting the hang of it! All I can recommend is that you keep on practicing! You will have a lot of fun with this learning phase smiley

Like banjoist Pete Seeger once said though, make sure that you learn to play fast, as well as slow. In time, with practice, you should be able to get this down.

When I first started learning a little while back, I first learned a version of Wildwood Flower by ear, and that helped a lot, especially because I was new to the banjo and frailing. I don't have a tab of that unfortunately, but I learned, very slowly, from this YT video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmymGoTT4aI

Have a nice time, and keep on pickin'!

Russ

Sep 28, 2021 - 5:02:51 PM
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21 posts since 9/21/2021

Hey Russ thanks for the support! Glad to know it seems like I'm on the right path. It was very hard for me to convert from "plucking" a guitar or ukulele.

I'm from North Central PA but moved to Bucks a year ago, probably not too far from you!

Sep 28, 2021 - 5:11:32 PM

596 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Alrashid2

Hey Russ thanks for the support! Glad to know it seems like I'm on the right path. It was very hard for me to convert from "plucking" a guitar or ukulele.

I'm from North Central PA but moved to Bucks a year ago, probably not too far from you!


No problem! Yes, coming to banjo from another instrument can be difficult, but you should hopefully catch onto it very soon with a lot of "practice", or, as Pete Seeger said (You can probably tell, I am a big time Pete Seeger fan), just "playing a lot".

Yes, I am located in Chester County PA, in the foothills of the remnants of the Blue-Ridge Mountains! I have never been to really "north-central" Parts of PA, but I have explored Sullivan County and places east. Its a very beautiful and rugged region!

Russ

Sep 28, 2021 - 5:48:38 PM
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790 posts since 12/19/2010

Since you are learning from Dan's book, this video on the basic stroke, made by Dan, should be helpful (assuming you haven't seen it). Pay particular attention to the "lift" part of the stroke. Your thumb should spring up from the 5th string as it sounds, bringing your entire hand along with it (i.e., try not to push downward with your thumb). This will set you up for the next downstroke.  In your third video, it looks like you are getting the down-up cycle going. Good!


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

Some people play with a straight thumb, others with more of a bent thumb.  I don't think there is necessarily a correct way with respect to this. Everyone's hand anatomy is different, so there is no "one size fits all". What is important, regardless of all that, is that you are relaxing your hand as much as possible, and that you are not doing anything to cause pain or cramping.  Having said that, it is not uncommon for beginners to tense up when trying to get some basic mechanics.  If that is happening, take a break, and do some gentle hand stretches.  Typically, as the stroke becomes embedded in muscle memory, your hand and whole body will relax more.  If not, some adjustments to what you do are probably in order.  Posting videos like you have done here, will get you plenty of good feedback.

Have fun!

Sep 28, 2021 - 5:50:47 PM
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6022 posts since 3/11/2006

Looks OK to me. The acid test will be when you get around to drop-thumbing. Still a little ways off, but don't delay it inordinately.
You may want to contact Dan about a couple of Skype lessons. Better to invest a bit in the beginning and get off on the right foot.
The beginning phase of CH is crucial.

Good Luck and Welcome!

Sep 28, 2021 - 6:08:39 PM

596 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by R.D. Lunceford

Looks OK to me. The acid test will be when you get around to drop-thumbing. Still a little ways off, but don't delay it inordinately.
You may want to contact Dan about a couple of Skype lessons. Better to invest a bit in the beginning and get off on the right foot.
The beginning phase of CH is crucial.

Good Luck and Welcome!


Yes, good points, especially about the double thumbing.

However, do you know if Dan charges for his skype lessons? I was just curious, thats all.

Sep 29, 2021 - 4:37:15 AM
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8266 posts since 3/17/2005

Dan is a teacher and yes, he charges for lessons.
What you're doing looks really good. RD gives good advice as always.

Sep 29, 2021 - 5:03:52 AM

carlb

USA

2293 posts since 12/16/2007

I'm with Jack. The 5th string should be sounding as your hand is moving upward, just like in Dan's video.

Sep 29, 2021 - 5:07:34 AM
Players Union Member

DC5

USA

20504 posts since 6/30/2015

What I see looks good, just a couple of small points. From the third video it looks like your striking with the index finger, and I see a bit of finger flick in your stroke. Your fingers should remain in the same position, almost frozen there. Holding a credit card between the crotch of the thumb and the first joint of your fingers is a good exercise to force this position. Also, (and this is one of my own bad habits) I see you plucking the string with your thumb. If you are coming from guitar this is a common thing and is hard to alter. At least it was for me. Your thumb should push off the string, pushing your hand back up for the next stroke. These are minor issues, but if you fix them in the beginning it will make a difference later on. I hope this makes sense. Otherwise, I think you are off to a good start. Welcome, and good luck.

Sep 29, 2021 - 8:42:52 AM
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21 posts since 9/21/2021

Thanks all for the responses!!

jack_beuthin, thanks for sharing that video. I have been watching it over and over. I did find that Mandy from BanjoLemonade's video on a similar exercise was more helpful in actually helping me get my hand in the proper form, though I'm still working on it... hand feels so stiff! I will add in lots of stretches in the mean time. Thanks!

This is the video I had been watching as well as Dan's:
youtube.com/watch?v=y9TiFxY6Qgc&t=649s

R.D. Lunceford, thanks for the input. Yes drop thumbing may be quite far away for me, but we'll see! I'd love to do lessons with Dan but this banjo cost me about all I've got for a while. Luckily Youtube and having a friend who plays claw hammer helps - he is giving me pointers, but his style is more up-plucking and I'm finding that is not the direction I may go. Not sure yet though.

chip arnold and carlb , thanks for the input! Will keep working on that thumb. So simply pushing ("jumping") off of the 5th string should produce a note? I'll keep messing around after work. Wish I could have my banjo here!

BeeEnvironment you explored not too far from where I'm from! Chester county isnt far from here. Unrelated to this thread but do you deer hunt? I'm out for archery this year and finding SE PA to be quite difficult!

DC5 Thanks for your input as well. I'm trying to avoid the flick of the finger but finding it quite difficult to pinpoint one string instead of two or three... I've been a nail-biter my whole life so my nails are rather short, but I've finally kicked the habit for banjo playing and just waiting for them to grow in - hoping that may help too? I'll keep trying on the pushing of the 5th string - it seems when I try no noise is produced. Will keep at it.

Sep 29, 2021 - 1:31:51 PM

596 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Alrashid2

Thanks all for the responses!!

jack_beuthin, thanks for sharing that video. I have been watching it over and over. I did find that Mandy from BanjoLemonade's video on a similar exercise was more helpful in actually helping me get my hand in the proper form, though I'm still working on it... hand feels so stiff! I will add in lots of stretches in the mean time. Thanks!

This is the video I had been watching as well as Dan's:
youtube.com/watch?v=y9TiFxY6Qgc&t=649s

R.D. Lunceford, thanks for the input. Yes drop thumbing may be quite far away for me, but we'll see! I'd love to do lessons with Dan but this banjo cost me about all I've got for a while. Luckily Youtube and having a friend who plays claw hammer helps - he is giving me pointers, but his style is more up-plucking and I'm finding that is not the direction I may go. Not sure yet though.

chip arnold and carlb , thanks for the input! Will keep working on that thumb. So simply pushing ("jumping") off of the 5th string should produce a note? I'll keep messing around after work. Wish I could have my banjo here!

BeeEnvironment you explored not too far from where I'm from! Chester county isnt far from here. Unrelated to this thread but do you deer hunt? I'm out for archery this year and finding SE PA to be quite difficult!

DC5 Thanks for your input as well. I'm trying to avoid the flick of the finger but finding it quite difficult to pinpoint one string instead of two or three... I've been a nail-biter my whole life so my nails are rather short, but I've finally kicked the habit for banjo playing and just waiting for them to grow in - hoping that may help too? I'll keep trying on the pushing of the 5th string - it seems when I try no noise is produced. Will keep at it.

 

Alrashid,

I have been hunting a few times, but nothing really too serious. I always though have really wanted to go deer hunting with my father for the past year or so. Like you said, though, deer hunting can be quite tricky, especially in SE PA. We got a lot of deer in the suburbs, but they often feed on trash/plastic/dirty water, etc..., so often the hills and forested areas often produce the healther deer. 

Have you tried Noxamixon State Park, or French Creek State Park, before? Both are in hilly forested regions, and you can sometimes even see the areas in the forest they grange (indicated by the presence of thousands of ferns coating the forest floor with no/few young tree saplings). 

Sep 29, 2021 - 4:30:51 PM
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6022 posts since 3/11/2006

Well, as I said, don't wait too long to try working in some drop-thumbing.
You may find that something in your right hand approach is making DTing
difficult, and the quicker you find that out the better so you don't spend too
much time programming faulty technique into muscle memory.

I get you about the financial aspect. If there's anyway you can swing a few Skypes with Dan early on,
it will be well worth it, in re: the previous paragraph. Be careful about pointers from someone who
doesn't CH if that's the direction you're wanting to go.

Keep us apprised of your progress.

Oct 1, 2021 - 6:49:39 AM

21 posts since 9/21/2021

Just wanted to post one more video, Day 5! I feel I had a breakthrough yesterday after getting sound advice from my friend who has been playing for over 2 decades!

I wasn't fully understanding the difference between the strumming motion (waving) versus when hitting individual strings (hammer motion). I feel I got it a bit better!

I'm also flattening my thumb a bit more and not plucking so hard. Before I was plucking that 5th string with the tip of my thumb. Not it's the meat of my thumbprint hitting it.

What do you guys think? Any better?

vimeo.com/619940929

Oct 1, 2021 - 8:17:45 AM

596 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Alrashid2

Just wanted to post one more video, Day 5! I feel I had a breakthrough yesterday after getting sound advice from my friend who has been playing for over 2 decades!

I wasn't fully understanding the difference between the strumming motion (waving) versus when hitting individual strings (hammer motion). I feel I got it a bit better!

I'm also flattening my thumb a bit more and not plucking so hard. Before I was plucking that 5th string with the tip of my thumb. Not it's the meat of my thumbprint hitting it.

What do you guys think? Any better?

vimeo.com/619940929


Hey Alrashid!

I see what you mean! I think your thumb-hitting has improved, in my view. Just out of curiosity, are you using your index finger to frail the string, or your middle finger? Sometimes, from what I have read, it is easier to frail/clawhammer a banjo with your middle finger when you have no picks on. I don't want to mislead you myself, because my own clawhammer picking is still developing, but maybe some other members here can provide more info on this topic of using your middle vs. index fingers.

On a side note, I will be glad for anyone here to provide me any more feedback on some of my picking! I am by no means a expert in banjo, obviously, but here is the link of me trying to perform my best (from yesterday):

https://www.banjohangout.org/topic/378089/

Oct 1, 2021 - 8:21 AM

21 posts since 9/21/2021

Hi again BeeEnvironment ! I am actually using my index finger! I am still debating which finger to go with, but I have a lot more strength in my index finger than my middle finger. Find my middle finger is just flopping around while my index is pretty strong. I'll owe it to my drumming and firearms shooting ha! Trigger finger :)

Thanks for the input!

Oct 1, 2021 - 9:59:47 AM

596 posts since 5/22/2021

Hi Alrashid2,

Ah, I see. Yeah, when I started frailing/clawhammering the banjo earlier this year, I started with my index finger also. But, then, after reading a bit, and experimenting, I just found the middle finger to be the most effective when wearing picks, in my experience. Hahah, I understand how hunting and drumming can contribute to the use of your index finger than your middle finger!
While it might be very difficult building your middle finger up to strength, I recommend that you make sure you practice with it occasionally, until it does not flop around the way you described. In the future, if you learn some tunes, you might find that having it not steadier can lead to missing or hitting some notes not part of the melody.

Just out of curiosity, have you ordered Pete Seeger's, "How to play the 5-string Banjo" book? It has been regarded, for the past 60-70 years (since it was published), to be one of the best banjo books for beginners to learn off of. It might not help everyone in playing the banjo, but it really got me started off and continues to help to this day.

-Russ

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