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May 27, 2022 - 4:35:40 PM
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DWFII

USA

395 posts since 1/9/2022

Because I don't have years and years of reaching for the neck of the banjo, my shoulder and back gets tired. So i made a banjo strap and play sitting down with the banjo between my legs. This puts the neck and a fairly steep angle but the head is very stable--something i need to not 'kill' the first string as I make transitions.

And while this position is good (better than what I was doing), I'm still reaching for the first five frets. Playing with the pot on my right knee, is even better in terns of reach but the banjo is not stable--I guess it's neck heavy.

Recently I started picking over the frailing scoop. I can anchor my little finger on the rim. And surprisingly this shortens the distance my left hand has to reach. What's more, the tone seems as good or better than playing near the bridge. It feels comfortable enough but I'm just experimenting with it and sometimes I find myself reverting to the more tradition approach...mostly out of habit, I suspect.

So...this sound at all familiar? Anyone know any other banjo player that does/did this?

Just curious...

May 27, 2022 - 9:19:37 PM

4406 posts since 5/29/2011

I don't know of a banjo player off hand that plays this way but, if it makes you more comfortable and you like the tone, there is nothing wrong with it.

May 28, 2022 - 4:32:37 AM

johnedallas

Germany

186 posts since 2/18/2005

Hi, DWFII,
Sure, it's OK to use a strap while playing seated. You say it works for you when you hold the banjo between your legs, but the head gets unstable when you put the banjo on your thigh. Have you thought to adjust the length of the strap when you change from "between-legs" to "on-thigh" position? The strap will only stabilize the instrument when it's taut; if you lift it onto your thigh, the strap will go slack and have little stabilizing effect.
As to picking over the scoop vs. near the bridge, this is a phenomenon that classical guitarists and banjoists exploit for effect. Close to the bridge, the sound tends to be harder, more brittle; at the base of the neck, it's softer, rounder.
In the classic-banjo scene, nylon-stringed open-backs tend to be played (with the finger-tips) close to the bridge to give a crisp tone, whereas zither-banjos, with their wire strings, are mostly played (with the finger-nails) over the edge of the pot to prevent them sounding too harsh.
This means that, if you think yout banjo sounds too harsh, you can move your right hand up to the scoop, or if your banjo is too fuzzy, you can give it more "bite" by picking near the bridge.
Hope this helps,
Cheers,
John

May 28, 2022 - 6:09:53 AM
Players Union Member

dbrooks

USA

4226 posts since 3/11/2004

The position of your picking hand affects the tone from the banjo. Bright near the bridge. Mellow near the neck. If you like the tone you're getting, continue as you are.

As for the strap, if it is connected in the right way, you shouldn't need to place the banjo pot between your legs and can place the pot on your right thigh. Connect one hook on a bracket below the tailpiece, and connect the other hook one or two brackets below the heel of the neck. With the pot on your right thigh, the strap on the neck side will support the neck in a stable position without your left hand having to support the neck. If either hook is above the tailpiece or the heel of the neck, the banjo will tend to rotate, lowering the neck toward the floor. Having the pot on your though shortens the reach to the first five frets, as you have seen.

David

May 28, 2022 - 7:04:25 AM

DWFII

USA

395 posts since 1/9/2022

quote:
Originally posted by dbrooks

The position of your picking hand affects the tone from the banjo. Bright near the bridge. Mellow near the neck. If you like the tone you're getting, continue as you are.

As for the strap, if it is connected in the right way, you shouldn't need to place the banjo pot between your legs and can place the pot on your right thigh. Connect one hook on a bracket below the tailpiece, and connect the other hook one or two brackets below the heel of the neck. With the pot on your right thigh, the strap on the neck side will support the neck in a stable position without your left hand having to support the neck. If either hook is above the tailpiece or the heel of the neck, the banjo will tend to rotate, lowering the neck toward the floor. Having the pot on your though shortens the reach to the first five frets, as you have seen.

David


I may need to shorten the strap  depending on what you mean by "below"

The attachment near the tailpiece is two brackets to the right of the tailpiece (I guess that would be two brackets above when I've got the banjo on my thigh)

And the upper attachment is one bracket below the heel. No snaps or hardware to mar the wood, so not much on-the-fly adjustment and  it's a pretty tight fit getting it around my neck and right shoulder. The prospect of shortening it further worries me.

May 28, 2022 - 10:28:35 AM

8388 posts since 3/17/2005

Years ago I made a brass "shelf" which extended about 2" out from the pot next to the neck, so that I could rest my trailing fingers on it and play out away from the pot in the area where clawhammer players often play for a rounder tone. It worked well.
I've found that finger picking (at least for me) is done more comfortably with the neck of the banjo up at around 10 O:Clock and the pot in my lap. Clawhammer players tend to want the pot over on the thigh and the neck parallel to the ground.

May 28, 2022 - 11:17:15 AM
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4205 posts since 11/29/2005

The 10:00 o'clock position is almost sacred to Classical guitarists, and since my first string instrument was such, it was natural for me to play the banjo in that position. I don't normally use a strap for playing, resting the pot either in my lap or, because it makes it easier to reach the neck, just off of my right thigh.

NOTE: I'm a claw hammerer, but occasionally make an attempt at TFIL (or TFTL).

May 28, 2022 - 11:45:17 AM
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Players Union Member

dbrooks

USA

4226 posts since 3/11/2004

Look at the two diagrams on this page (ignore the videos): How to Attach a Banjo Strap - Free Banjo Lessons Online (banjoteacher.com)

The length of the strap can be adjusted to position the pot and neck angle according to your needs.

OR if your current method is working for you, just go with that.

David 

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