Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

473
Banjo Lovers Online


May 19, 2022 - 8:44:51 AM

DrWorm

USA

1 posts since 5/19/2022

Hey guys!
I've been playing clawhammer style on an open back banjo for a few months and I think I'm starting to get the hang of it, but my buddy has been wanting to play some bluegrass with me so I was thinking of getting some picks and trying out bluegrass style. Has anyone had any experience playing both or particularly going from clawhammer to scruggs style? Do any of the skills transfer or would it be pretty much learning an entirely new instrument? I'm pretty much teaching myself so any advice is real appreciated! :D

May 19, 2022 - 8:51:04 AM
like this

1168 posts since 1/26/2011

If you’re playing clawhammer in open G tuning all your chord shapes will transfer. You’ll just have to focus on your right hand picking patterns. That part will be completely different.

May 19, 2022 - 9:03:59 AM
like this

47 posts since 11/30/2021

Some pieces of advice that I wish I had sooner when I began learning Scruggs are: Get comfortable with planting a finger on your picking hand down on the head of the banjo. Whether it's your pinky, ring, or both fingers, find a comfortable way to plant a finger and stick with it. Turn your finger picks so that they are perfectly parallel to the string when you strike it. When the pick makes flat contact with the string you'll get more out of your pick strokes and you'll be less likely to miss the string. Finally, practice your rolls slowly with a metronome until you can do them in your sleep! I wasted a lot time and effort not heeding this advice and my playing suffered because of it early on :)

May 19, 2022 - 10:09:56 AM

1876 posts since 1/28/2013

The only thing the same is the fingerboard and strings. What goes on with your hands and all 10 fingers is in another Universe. And if you get into progressive styles that is in another Galaxy all together.

Edited by - jan dupree on 05/19/2022 10:13:22

May 19, 2022 - 11:04:11 AM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

282 posts since 12/6/2021

For what it's worth, I play Scruggs Style and Folk Style (don't know what style to call that but it is the same style that George Grove, formerly of the Kingston Trio frequently uses; it is not a true clawhammer style but it is similar). I have no trouble switching from one to the other and often do it in the same song; i.e., folk style for the vocals and Scruggs style for the breaks using finger picks for both styles.. It works for me and I have performed as a single in several clubs in the Tampa Bay area for several years blending the two styles.
Robert

May 19, 2022 - 11:08:01 AM
Players Union Member

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

27358 posts since 8/3/2003

I, too, can switch back and forth from Scruggs to clawhammer. In my case, I learned the 3 finger bluegrass style first and got comfortable with it before I tried clawhammer. The bum-ditty seemed fairly easy. I don't know how easy it would be to go the other way, but if you are a beginner, it might be confusing to try to learn both styles at once.

May 19, 2022 - 12:54:35 PM

2775 posts since 5/2/2012

I played clawhammer for the first few months after I bought my first banjo. Then I switched over to 2 finger thumb lead. I don't remember that transition as being too challenging, but then I hadn't played clawhammer all that long. Then I switched over to Scruggs style. You'd think adding a 3rd finger would be easy, but it wasn't. And I had to learn to anchor a finger on the head. And I had to learn how to work with picks on my fingers. So in my case, it took a couple of months to make that transition. As previously mentioned, your fretting hand skills, your understanding of music theory (like chords), and the downpicking with the thumb will transfer. So it will not be like learning a new instrument...

May 19, 2022 - 12:58:02 PM

1848 posts since 5/19/2018

I started on Scruggs style, back in the early 70’s, in the late 70’s fell deep into Round Peak Clawhammer style from a Chance meeting on a road trip down south, sucked me in for 20 years or so, in the 90’s I got lost in Uncle Dave Macon. Now...I don’t even know what I play.

What I can say is that the styles are completely unrelated in techniques, but the melodies and chord progressions as well as the style are deeply and closely related. Knowing one style will certainly help you grasp the basics of the other style.

Having someone who wants you to learn a certain style and will be there for backup and ect. Is a huge help. It will make you progress a lot faster the more you play with others.

Most of the people I know who started at playing one style or the other usually wind up decades later playing Doc Boggs, so that is a good thing.

Scruggs style is so different from clawhammer it’s almost like playing a completely different instrument. But once you get it down, Scruggs Style, it is as fun as it gets when you play in a group with a bunch of really tight musicians.

All I can say is, enjoy the journey.

May 19, 2022 - 1:01:48 PM

32 posts since 1/18/2022

Personally I'd recommend making your friend learn old time tunes!

May 19, 2022 - 1:05:03 PM

kd8tzc

USA

309 posts since 4/11/2022

I just started learning Scruggs style a few weeks back, but also have an openback banjo that I want to learn clawhammer with. I did try doing the clawhammer, but it was quite hard for me so I gave it up at this point to concentrate on the Scruggs style. I'm sure I could figure it out, but what I didn't want to do was confuse myself and not be good at either. I do like the bum-dity sound, so I know I will come back to it and learn it some day.

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!
May 19, 2022 - 2:24:53 PM

1848 posts since 5/19/2018

Depending upon who you talk to, and what style they play, they are going to say that you are going over to the “Dark Side”

May 19, 2022 - 8:20:07 PM

4385 posts since 6/15/2005

I played clawhammer and various old timey two-finger and three-finger styles for over ten years before starting to learn Scruggs style in the mid-seventies. If your clawhammer rhythm and timing are solid, then your Scruggs style rhythm and timing will probably be solid too, differences notwithstanding.  

Edited by - arnie fleischer on 05/19/2022 20:21:29

May 19, 2022 - 8:32:17 PM

7284 posts since 2/14/2006

Don't do it! You'll never go back!

May 22, 2022 - 4:37:59 PM

176 posts since 2/20/2004

All good advice here. I played CH for years before BG. I assumed that because I could Travis pick a guitar those skills would transfer easily.
Sort of! I had good dexterity but it was hard to get used to the highest toned string being under my thumb.
Eventually figured it out.
I find Scruggs style to be pretty forgiving. Melodic not so much

May 23, 2022 - 9:09:07 AM

2865 posts since 4/5/2006

When I started out, I tried every style in the Pete Seeger book. But, lacking time to become good at both Drop Thumb Claw Hammer & Scruggs styles, I went with Scruggs. But I've always admired those who can do both.

Just my $0.02 worth. DTCH sounds good all by itself, whereas Bluegrass, by design, is more dependent on a rhythm section backing the lead.      

May 29, 2022 - 4:58:03 PM

2865 posts since 4/5/2006

You didn't say what instrument your bluegrass buddy plays. Generally, though, anytime two musicians get together to play music, there is a swapping of knowledge that goes on & each comes away better.

Bluegrass musicians play either rhythm, or lead, and vocals count as lead. When not playing lead, (taking a break), the banjo's job reverts to rhythm, keeping time, while not over powering the lead. 

So playing with a bluegrass musician, you will learn to play back up, to keep time and compliment the lead, be it another instrument or vocals. Bluegrass banjo is only about 20% lead, & 80 % backup. It's not near as difficult as one might think. Anyone capable of playing G, C, D, F, & A, chords is capable of, and should be, jamming every chance they get. Learn to "hear" chord changes. When playing with a BG guitar player, learn to "read" guitar chords. You may even learn to sing a harmony part. smiley

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Picks are inexpensive. If it doesn't work out, you're not out much. 

May 30, 2022 - 1:54:45 AM

406 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by DrWorm

Hey guys!
I've been playing clawhammer style on an open back banjo for a few months and I think I'm starting to get the hang of it, but my buddy has been wanting to play some bluegrass with me so I was thinking of getting some picks and trying out bluegrass style. Has anyone had any experience playing both or particularly going from clawhammer to scruggs style? Do any of the skills transfer or would it be pretty much learning an entirely new instrument? I'm pretty much teaching myself so any advice is real appreciated! :D


This should help get you started

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by - FenderFred on 05/30/2022 01:56:12

May 31, 2022 - 6:12:25 PM
like this

stanger

USA

7391 posts since 9/29/2004

quote:
Originally posted by DrWorm

Hey guys!
I've been playing clawhammer style on an open back banjo for a few months and I think I'm starting to get the hang of it, but my buddy has been wanting to play some bluegrass with me so I was thinking of getting some picks and trying out bluegrass style. Has anyone had any experience playing both or particularly going from clawhammer to scruggs style? Do any of the skills transfer or would it be pretty much learning an entirely new instrument? I'm pretty much teaching myself so any advice is real appreciated! :D


One way to transition from clawhammer to 3-finger style is to become fluent in the 2-finger style, double thumbing. It's also easier if you can play Seeger style, which has one up-picked note in the same basic strum as clawhammer.

The single biggest difference between the two is the amount of practice needed for the basic 3-finger style. All of the strumming styles immediately give a song a rhythmic base. In bluegrass, the rolls provide that rhythm, but the rolls have to be broken in may ways to allow the melody notes to come out of the rolls.

That requires a ton of practice to keep the timing steady, as breaking a roll always makes the timing syncopated. The 2-finger style, played without fingerpicks, allows the player a spare finger to strum with to keep the rhythm going.

 

This is how I learned how to play both clawhammer and 3-finger over the course of one summer. I will still strum downwards with my ring finger sometimes when I'm playing bleugrass.

I don't like to call the 3-finger style Scruggs;  the Scruggs style gives 3-finger a good solid rythym, but it's harder to extract a melody line with a lot of notes in it from his playing.

It's actually easier for a cold beginner to learn the Scuggs rolls then learn the scales needed to play intricate melodies in the Keith melodic style. The Keith style isn't hard when nothing is familiar to a beginner; but when a beginner immerses himself in Scruggs, trying to imitate the way he got his melodies, re-wiring everything that was learned so Keith can be played is really difficult.

The differences between Keith and Scruggs aren't huge;  While playing Keith, is the 5th string is treated like the other 4. It's fretted whenever it's needed, and when it's not, the 5th keeps the rhythm going, just as it does with clawhammer and Scruggs.

I found when I was teaching the banjo that most of the difficulties beginners have is conceptual. Striking a string in a downwards motion with the fingernails is hard to do to get a single note, but is easy to make a strum. Picking a single note upwards is a very natural hand motion, but is very hard to provide any rhythm.

Basic rolls give a solid 2/4 and 4/4 rhythm that becomes mechanical sounding when played continuously. Both are the ability to keep a rhythmic beat going and the ability to play the melody notes are needed to play a song.  

The strum is only one way of keeping a chordal rhythm going, but it's not the only way. Most of the instruments that can do both at the same time- the keyboard insturment family- can't be strummed at all.

So it's all in the concept. Learning the guitar, mandolin and  the harp all present the same challenges as the banjo does to it's players.

p.s.    Fingerpicks aren't essential when learning 3-finger. But they sure help playing accurately, and allow the player more tonal control, along with ease of playing at faster speeds.

regards,

stanger

Edited by - stanger on 05/31/2022 18:15:28

Jun 1, 2022 - 4:32:14 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

15584 posts since 8/30/2006

First welcome to the hangout, you kind of get the idea already.

Up picking or Seeger style, Round Peak, Frailing and Clawhammer all have the same 4 beats as bluegrass, and melodic bluegrass for that matter.
So both forms are already in the same ballpark and can be played interchangeably.
Learn up picking first if you can, but you are already playing claw. 

Jan Dupree's opinion is not shared by me.

You will learn to use the X, Y and Z positions for soloing and backup or vamping.

It's 1,2,3,4 = Boom rest Did He or Boom Diddy, the downbeat is the 1, 2 is the rest, 3 & 4. There's all 4 beats of a measure.

Bluegrass uses the SAME basis, the same 4 beats, just two measures of 4 beats like IMTMTIMT or 21215215 = one of the secret bluegrass patterns to get you up to speed.

Try
Buffalo Gals or My Home Is In the Blue Ridge Mountains, they transfer back and forth.

Playing at the X position is right in front of the bridge and gives a snappier tone for soloing.
Playing at the Y position is right behind the heel of the neck and gives a more hollow sound.
Playing at the Z position is out over the 19th fret. (I'm the only one who calls it that,
it just seemed logical. ( ))==='== ::}

I play with fingerpicks all the time, no frailing scoop, no marks on my banjo for the 15 years I've been doing that.
I play clawhammer and frailing and a little bluehammer if I get the notion.
I play Scruggs 3-finger for soloing.
I use frailing softly to vamp with, it's different and it works.
I'm working on Round Peak, two finger and first finger downbeat for my Travis picking on guitar and 12-string. I tune my 12-string to G with a drop C in the bass. This lets me use the 14 basic banjo chord shapes while using slide, the same chords, a well-kept secret.

Bluegrass was hard and turned us all off in the early days. We didn't want to know why it worked, we wanted to know how it worked and instructional material like that suggested above wasn't available until this Renaissance here on this forum. Blam.

The finger picks need adjustment with needle nose pliers, they will be clumsy, let your body learn with muscle memory, sleep on it, and let your tendons rest sometimes.

Enjoy the journey. I use claw and bluegrass interchangeably in the same song, sometimes I sing and pick at the same time.

Dancing and enjoyment follow. 

Edited by - Helix on 06/01/2022 04:34:00

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.203125