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Aug 11, 2022 - 11:22 AM

DWFII

USA

502 posts since 1/9/2022

Is there such a thing as old time three finger picking? Anyone who is a leading advocate/teacher or any mp3's I should/can listen to?

Mostly curious but the dearth of tabs dedicated to two finger picking (esp index lead) is kind of discouraging.

Aug 11, 2022 - 11:48:49 AM
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2887 posts since 5/2/2012

I did a search of old threads and this came up as one of the suggestions.

Aug 11, 2022 - 12:10:52 PM
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505 posts since 4/27/2013

Beat me to it - Don Borchelt is a true master 3-finger old time picker (and great guy).

Aug 11, 2022 - 1:09:04 PM

DWFII

USA

502 posts since 1/9/2022

I don't suppose there's any instructional books on the order of Sebastian Schroeder's 2 Finger Banjo books or websites with half a dozen plus introductory lessons on how to do three finger? And/or some simple tabs with fingering indicators? (I, M,T)

Or is it just Scrugg's style without the finger picks?

I am no master of any style but I have been working on my two finger, index lead, for at least six / seven months now and I feel that I am 'comfortable' with 2F and maybe could add that middle finger?

To be honest, I shied away from Bluegrass style picking at first because it looked terribly tense for the right hand. The material I latched onto in the beginning was fairly 'rigid' about the angle of the hand and position of the fingers, etc.. Scared me off, I suppose.

But now I have an anchor, at least, for my 2F and it doesn't feel tense at all. So...

Again, mostly curious.

Edited by - DWFII on 08/11/2022 13:21:21

Aug 11, 2022 - 3:50:29 PM
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509 posts since 4/14/2014

There is a lot of Old-Time three finger out there. I'd point to Dock Boggs, first and foremost. Others say Charlie Poole. I'd say Poole was more influenced by classic banjo players, but that's an old argument.

Art Rosenbaum's "Mountain Banjo" has some examples, as do Mike Seeger's instructional videos.

Edited by - Nic Pennsylvania on 08/11/2022 15:51:08

Aug 11, 2022 - 3:55:55 PM

509 posts since 4/14/2014

Also, I'll second Don Borchelt being a great guy. There are many supportive people in the banjo community, buy few so much as Don. I'll warn that many of his arrangements are tricky, tricky. Why not ask him to recommend a couple that are good starters?

Aug 11, 2022 - 4:40:43 PM

DWFII

USA

502 posts since 1/9/2022

quote:
Originally posted by Nic Pennsylvania

Also, I'll second Don Borchelt being a great guy. There are many supportive people in the banjo community, buy few so much as Don. I'll warn that many of his arrangements are tricky, tricky. Why not ask him to recommend a couple that are good starters?


I've looked at his website. He looks like a friendly guy but you're right the tabs are tricky and dern near incomprehensible to me. There is no T, I, M under the tab notation so despite the fac that i understand the the middle finger is often playing only the first string, even in the simple measures I still am not sure which finger is playing which strings.

What i would really like is a comprehensive course that starts out simple and lays out daily exercises and slowly progresses a beginner to simple tabs of somewhat melodic arrangements (so i can recognize what I'm playing and how it should sound)..

Am I asking for something that doesn't exist? Sincere question...

Aug 11, 2022 - 5:00:20 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

26326 posts since 6/25/2005

Pete Peterson (Orpheus Supertones) and Joseph DeCosimo (Blue Ridge Broadcasters for one) are excellent old-time fingerpickers, though their styles differ. Joseph also plays great clawhammwe.

Aug 11, 2022 - 5:44:24 PM
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RG

USA

3181 posts since 8/7/2008

Selected Uncle Dave Macon, Kirk McGee, George Pegram, Lewis "Big Sweet" Hairston, Wade Ward (when he played with Charlie Higgins), Gus Cannon, Junie Scruggs, Snuffy Jenkins, just to name a few...

As far as tabs for two finger index lead, any clawhammer tab will do, clawhammer is an index lead style, just reverse from downstroke to upstroke...

Aug 11, 2022 - 8:01:09 PM
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844 posts since 12/19/2010

At this point in the thread, the answer should be obvious that 3F picking is part of old time banjo music. The issue for a beginner is that there is no single, or even just a few, 3F styles. Preceding replies mention several excellent players, and no two of them play quite the same sort of 3F banjo. There is no "Earl" in old time 3F banjo picking.

The closest recommendation I can make for an instruction book is Wayne Erbsen's "Starting Bluegrass Banjo from Scratch" which is still in print. Yes, the title says "Bluegrass" but much of what he presents lays the foundation for playing in more of an old time style. It is comprehensible and accessible to the complete beginner. At very least, it will give you some ideas for jumping into 3F and finding your way.

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Aug 11, 2022 - 10:47:41 PM
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janolov

Sweden

41846 posts since 3/7/2006

Josh Turknett also has instruction in finger style: https://fingerstylebanjo.com/

Aug 12, 2022 - 3:28:31 AM

1025 posts since 6/25/2006

Check out the following current bands for examples of fiddle backup: The Ozark Highballers, Betse and Clarke, Rocky Creek Ramblers, Steam Machine...


There isn't a 'how to' book but any beginner bluegrass book will teach you basic roll patterns for three fingerstyle.  The in/out (or 'box roll') is your basic bum-ditty.  You might find Janet Davis 'Splitting the Licks' helpful - she gives a basic version (which will sound 'old-time' as it is stripped back without the distinctive bluegrass licks).


Note, Charlie Poole, Pete Peterson, Clarke Buehling use a more 'classic-style' chordal banjo approach rather than the continuous rolling backup more common in bluegrass. I did a video on Charlie Poole style a while ago (apologies for the poor audio - my voice is a whisper!):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAWzpbvbaEw&t=141s

Some good videos on Dock Boggs (singing with banjo) approach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG3L1oC7DgY&t=195s

Aug 12, 2022 - 5:06:37 AM
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JSB88

UK

383 posts since 3/9/2017

If the link works, this is the excellent Chris Berry giving a lesson on Doc Boggs Danville Girls, in Boggs' 3 finger style. No tab but his lessons allow you to watch and listen. I simply cannot play 3f of any description but I have used Mr Berry's videos to learn 2f songs and have found them excellent, especially when starting out. I did try this one but it just confirmed my inability, however I did for a while pick out a 2f version based in it.
m.youtube.com/watch?v=H3KjogQxFs0

Aug 12, 2022 - 5:34:17 AM
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7630 posts since 11/4/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Nic Pennsylvania

Also, I'll second Don Borchelt being a great guy. There are many supportive people in the banjo community, buy few so much as Don. I'll warn that many of his arrangements are tricky, tricky. Why not ask him to recommend a couple that are good starters?


I want to thank Nic, Jeff, and "thisoldguy" for mentioning me, but Nic is dead right, most of my arrangements are tricky, tricky.  And as DWFII has pointed out, I don't put down the right hand fingerings, unless it seems to me that the choice of fingering is not obvious.  So in general my tabs are not suited for beginners, and if someone needs the right hand transcribed, they are probably not ready to try them.  There are two tabs on my site that are labeled as easier versions of the tunes, Angeline the Baker in D tuning (aDF#AD), and Liza Jane in G tuning (gDGBD).

I did remember that someone had put out a book of Dock Boggs tabs some years ago, so I googled for it, and low and behold, a current BHO ad popped up. The book is out of print, but the author, Blake Bamford (Boxcar) is offering it in PDF format for only $5. Boggs' playing is not tricky, once you get used to his tunings.  Here is the link.  Gotta move fast though, the ad expires right after lunch today!

- Don B.

https://www.banjohangout.org/classifieds/detail.asp?cid=15348

Aug 12, 2022 - 6:19:09 AM

2887 posts since 5/2/2012

RE: fingering for picking hand. I did a quick search under the "learn" section here and used "Doc Boggs" as the search term. Came up with 7 tabs written by the same person. The two I looked at seemed beginner friendly to me. Just looking at them, I would start by choosing to pick the 5th and 4th strings with my thumb, the 1st with middle, and 2nd with index. The way the picking patterns lay out on the 2 examples I looked at, I'd pick the 3rd string with my thumb most, if not all, of the time. If not my thumb on the 3rd, then index depending on the note(s) before and after.

Aug 12, 2022 - 10:40:11 AM
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zac987

USA

468 posts since 5/12/2011

Hey D.W.!

I play old time 3-finger. I started by learning index and thumb lead 2-finger picking, and gradually incorporated more rolls into my playing. These rolls often bridge the gap in notes and phrases that 2-finger can often leave. The most common ones I use are the forward roll, box roll, and forward-reverse roll.

You can find some recordings of my playing here (you don't have to join instagram to watch them): https://www.instagram.com/zacpelo/

Here are some of my all-time favorite old time 3-finger players:

Jason Romero - I think Jason typifies this style for me. The way he separates the notes and gives everything a dynamic quality is really spectacular.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8jIRnWKruA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcbUYEt1MWQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjyAEPxCYZQ

Nick Hornbuckle - Nick is actually a 2-finger banjo player, but his arrangements lay out perfectly for 3-finger, and his tabs are actually laid out with the expectation that you'll be picking with three fingers.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQcXVrgEutI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ja8HX_nZd4I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilnWU4uBsbI

Don Borchelt - Don of course is one of the best living banjo players, and is an incredible 3-finger picker. As mentioned before, his arrangements are tricky and I wouldn't recommend starting with them. However, highly recommend listening and eventually taking a swing at one. I included some of his more "straightforward" arrangements below. :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKGwVAs6M0k
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOxUiHgNy5A
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJN5Ej_vfso

Dock Boggs - Dock typically played to accompany his voice, but I chose a few tracks here that show a little more of the melody.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lECo9Va72oU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avHv2e8j_dU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhJjlW5UjD4

Here are some random clips to get you inspired:
Adam Hurt (playing 3 finger) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsmBoIhRDac
Aaron Jonah Lewis explaining Pete Seeger's 3-finger take on "Cindy" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6box7Unm4yA
Frank Fairfield (not sure if he's playing 2-finger or 3-finger here, but there are some rolls and arpeggios in here that make me think it's 3-finger. Also a clawhammer bit at the end) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgEWwCdr0Ac
Josh Turknett has been posting some great stuff on his channel "Fingerstyle Banjo," highly recommend - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVsp8FUJm8g 

Edited by - zac987 on 08/12/2022 10:49:59

Aug 12, 2022 - 11:09:56 AM
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DWFII

USA

502 posts since 1/9/2022

quote:
Originally posted by zac987

Hey D.W.!

I play old time 3-finger. I started by learning index and thumb lead 2-finger picking, and gradually incorporated more rolls into my playing. These rolls often bridge the gap in notes and phrases that 2-finger can often leave. The most common ones I use are the forward roll, box roll, and forward-reverse roll.

You can find some recordings of my playing here (you don't have to join instagram to watch them): https://www.instagram.com/zacpelo/

Zac,

That's a lot! Thank you.

Texasbanjo posted a link today: hangoutstorage.com/banjohangou...02011.pdf that had some rolls to practice.

I started with clawhammer as, I suspect  a lot of newbies do. But for me, without an anchor it felt a little to uncontrollable. So i started with Sebastian Schroeder's 2F books. I also did about four of Josh Turknett's online 2F lessons.

I haven't been playing long. I can't even get through Schoeder's Cripple Creek arrangement... not so it's recognizable, at any rate. But I can play Bile then Cabbage in both 4/4 and 3/4 time pretty good.

I practice daily. And while I know that repetition and doing exercises is probably the best foundation, I want a little variation that is both challenging and appropriate for where I'm at.

None of that is an excuse for abandoning 2F but there isn't a lot out there in terms of 2F tabs much ;ess study guides.  And despite what people tell me (and i understand and am not disagreeing) I can't readily translate a CH song with brushes into picking on the fly. It just feels kind of random to me so i don't have anything by which to gauge my progress.

Anyway, I have been feeling kind of restless and thinking that maybe I should venture into Schroeder's 2FTL book (that was always my intent) but I feel it might be a little too soon.

And I keep thinking there's a lot of three finger material out there and I have an extra finger that seems to be loafing. lol

Anyway. thanks again. I'll look over this stuff over the next week or so. i appreciate it.

Aug 13, 2022 - 11:59:06 AM
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janolov

Sweden

41846 posts since 3/7/2006

I am sorry, but I think you are on the wrong track if you want to turn to 3 finger.

You have started with 2 finger (2FIL) and the main reason why you want to finish with 2FIL seems to be the lack of explicit 2FIL tabs. I think it will be easier for you to learn how to interpret CH tabs, than to start learning still another style. I have followed you since you started posting here, and I think if you start 3 finger you will soon come with a lot of new questions, while making no real progress. So it is better for you to continue develop your 2FIL style, instead of beginning from scratch with a new style. Perhaps later, when you have established 2FIL playing you may start looking at other styles.

When I started learning banjo in the late 60's and being in the late teenage I had one banjo book to start with: Peter Seeger's How To Play The 5-String Banjo. The book presented a lot of different styles but there were only one or two tabs for each style, but a lot of licks in different styles. So I learned the fundamentals of the different styles, and implemented on different songs I worked out myself (from records and song books). Perhaps it was hard in the beginning but after a year or two my main repertoire was songs and tunes I had worked out myself. So I never became tab dependent. Today I love to study tabs, but I always play my own versions.

Aug 13, 2022 - 1:12:46 PM

DWFII

USA

502 posts since 1/9/2022

quote:
Originally posted by janolov

I am sorry, but I think you are on the wrong track if you want to turn to 3 finger.

You have started with 2 finger (2FIL) and the main reason why you want to finish with 2FIL seems to be the lack of explicit 2FIL tabs. I think it will be easier for you to learn how to interpret CH tabs, than to start learning still another style. I have followed you since you started posting here, and I think if you start 3 finger you will soon come with a lot of new questions, while making no real progress. So it is better for you to continue develop your 2FIL style, instead of beginning from scratch with a new style. Perhaps later, when you have established 2FIL playing you may start looking at other styles.

When I started learning banjo in the late 60's and being in the late teenage I had one banjo book to start with: Peter Seeger's How To Play The 5-String Banjo. The book presented a lot of different styles but there were only one or two tabs for each style, but a lot of licks in different styles. So I learned the fundamentals of the different styles, and implemented on different songs I worked out myself (from records and song books). Perhaps it was hard in the beginning but after a year or two my main repertoire was songs and tunes I had worked out myself. So I never became tab dependent. Today I love to study tabs, but I always play my own versions.


Believe it or not, I hear you. And I am inclined to go no further down this path to 3F.

I know, in my gut, that I have not mastered or even come within striking distance of 'owning' the 2F material I have.

And yes, I kind of have an idea of how to deal with a brush in a CH tab--just hit the first string note... or the second string note, or maybe the third string note. Or maybe substitute a pinch.  I have enough CH material to tide me for a good long time.

But I am not a musician... if anything I am a Craftsman. I need structure and the 1st. string/2nd. string/3rd. string/pinch business is too vague for me. And the idea of "structure" directly impacts my desire/need for a syllabus.--if 2F tabs are scarce, 2F lesson plans are near-as-nevermind non-existent.

The 3F rolls that have been posted here seemed relatively do-able and a wealth of new materials. 

I get a little restless spending a half an hour plus practicing the same pinches and bum-ditties and alternate fingerings ...not to mention Bile Them Cabbage Down in 4/4 and 3/4 melodic and accompanying arrangements--over and over again.

I probably need a teacher but alas and alack for the lack locally.

Recently I rediscovered Chip Arnold's website and i have been working on his Sourwood Mountain variations--most exciting thing that has happened to me in a while.

Well, sorry for the long reply...but you did say you have been following my posts and I appreciate a sympathetic ear. And undoubtedly a wise one....thank you

Edited by - DWFII on 08/13/2022 13:16:51

Aug 13, 2022 - 2:04:11 PM
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dbrooks

USA

4296 posts since 3/11/2004

DWFII - I know you have a preference for index lead and have not, therefore, suggested you look at Matt Brown's two-finger web site (twofingerbanjo.com/) since Matt teaches thumb lead. You seem to be casting about trying different styles. Maybe 2ftl will unlock things for you. Matt is a great teacher with lots of online lessons. This week he started an 8-week beginners course at the Louisville Folk School. The course is hybrid - both in-person and online.

Matt and I teach on the same nights. All 3 of my experience clawhammer students also signed up for Matt's two-finger class which follows mine. There are 12 people in that class as of the first class.

David

Aug 13, 2022 - 2:12 PM

DWFII

USA

502 posts since 1/9/2022

quote:
Originally posted by dbrooks

DWFII - I know you have a preference for index lead and have not, therefore, suggested you look at Matt Brown's two-finger web site (twofingerbanjo.com/) since Matt teaches thumb lead. You seem to be casting about trying different styles. Maybe 2ftl will unlock things for you. Matt is a great teacher with lots of online lessons. This week he started an 8-week beginners course at the Louisville Folk School. The course is hybrid - both in-person and online.

Matt and I teach on the same nights. All 3 of my experience clawhammer students also signed up for Matt's two-finger class which follows mine. There are 12 people in that class as of the first class.

David


Thanks for the reply. I bought all three of Sebastian Schroeder's books... which more or less start with index lead then progress to thumb lead and finally to mixed lead. So 2FTL is definitely in my sights.

And I have looked at Matt's website and plan to make it a 'go-to' when I move on to TL.  (along with Josh Turknett's course.)

I just want to keep learning...

Aug 14, 2022 - 3:09:29 AM

JSB88

UK

383 posts since 3/9/2017

Bit hesitant chiming in hear as so many more experienced people have given advice but just from my own experience, wanting to learn songs in 2ftl that I could only find in CH tab. I listened to the song, looked at the tab, listened to the song, looked at the tab, played what looked more it less like the melody notes only. Kept listening and then picking until it was in the ball park and then started adding the rolls and ornamentation, not from the ch tab but from the listened song and, tbh, whatever I felt sounded good. Some times I have started this process and then abandoned a tune for six months or a year and gone back to it when I have gained more experience. Short of a vid where you can see the fingering and hear the tune, I personally have found this approach the next best thing, and also am not reliant on finding the exact tab in my style of picking. Maybe this is what you are already doing, but you never know.

Aug 14, 2022 - 6:37:37 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

15850 posts since 8/30/2006

Really, I'm not surprised so many people play this kind of music. I I replaced a drum shell recently for a Cherry rim.

In 1962 we built our own banjo.

Bluegrass patterns turned us off, we couldn't play jazz, neither.  We wanted to know how, not why. We were kids. 

I am relearning up-picking again for the pinch chords.

I turned to frailing years ago because there was less wear and tear on the wrist.

On guitar I also do 2F Travis style and and 3F Atkins style, I use those on my 12-string with two .010's on the third, open G with a .056 drop C in the bass with slide.

But I am going back and re-learning index finger downbeat on the guitar.

One of the six basic bluegrass rolls translated perfectly while I was woodshedding from knee surgery in 2004. I fell over the bluegrass fence and couldn't get back in the cocoon:

Foggy Mountain roll = IMTM TIMT 21215215 is only one of the secret bluegrass gates that lets you play well with others and real fun for me to go jam for the first time with the bluegrassers. I frail to vamp, it took them 5 weeks to catch me. Can you spell Stringbean.

This roll, however plays all 8 notes, and as we see you have found the secret to Boom Diddy as the 2nd beat is a rest, Boom Rest Did He?  All 4 beats are there. 

So having become familiar with index finger downbeat and working on thumb, then the six bluegrass rolls shouldn't be that hard. (Wernieke)

I had a "student" whom I sent home and came back in 30 days playing 1,2,3  1,2,3  1.2.3 and that's nine beats, hard as heck to retrain that poor guy. 
This is going to sound like I'm critical. Our coffeehouse sponsored one name that you would all know. They came with long fingernails and no picks. We are a pretty sophisticated crowd. The long fingernails and no picks just didn't make it with bluegrass.

Nick Hornbuckle and those Redbirds have played at www.fiddlersdream.org in Phoenix more than once now.  We studied while he played.  He sais he had been playing 3F since he was nine, but one day in the hotel, it just made sense to play the same notes with only two fingers.  I don't know anyone else doing that. 

I use up, down, claw and 3F in the same songs if need be. I find the audience "goes somewhere", and I mean not to the parking lot, when the "sound" of claw at the 19th fret with fingerpicks. They want you to take them somewhere and bring them back when you are done telling whatever tale.  We forget many people feel better after hearing us play when they cannot.  Or the shut-ins and assisted nursing homes. Even people in comas, still somebody home. 

At the coffeehouse, we are now getting many young people who are holding these traditions, but they are urban professionals in their spare time. It's a new "thang." The big city still doesn't hold the curious. The curious all went West. Now it's IT and AI and these people still need their roots, it's a great thing. (A young investment banker with a Cup-O-Phone came to see me with his new Bernunzio neck. He was so curious he got to install and dress his own frets.
These kids need "touch." "The Brown Mountain Lightning Bugs." "Down in the Holler." It makes me happy.

I think the Charlie Poole situation with the Ramblers sitting in RCA's office in New York, playing only 6 notes in the audition, how did they get to RCA?  They bluffed their way in,  they drank their way across the country is bluegrass lore. 

They knew clawhammer very well but they didn't want to be seen as "Hillbillies."
His right hand was injured in a baseball bet when these boys had been drinking. Like early Scruggs, Poole played a "proto-bluegrass."

These are my opinions only, your results may vary. You are just Santa Claus with a shave, I see you in there.

I have always enjoyed Don Borchelt, he's a class act.


Edited by - Helix on 08/14/2022 06:53:07

Aug 14, 2022 - 9:24:06 AM
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8426 posts since 3/17/2005

JSB88, The poster is learning 2-finger index lead. Clawhammer is also a 2-finger, finger lead style, so c'ammer tabs can be played as written in 2FIL style :-)

Aug 14, 2022 - 9:46:39 AM

JSB88

UK

383 posts since 3/9/2017

chip arnold I did kind of think that index lead and ch worked the same, esp from a tab perspective, but I thought the OP said they were having difficulty finding tab to learn from? Maybe I got the wrong end of the stick.

Aug 14, 2022 - 5:49:25 PM

8426 posts since 3/17/2005

JSB88, You're right, he did say that. He's been told he can use c'hammer tab over and over again, but he comes up with reasons why he can't. I'm pretty much done answering his questions :-) :-(

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