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Feb 6, 2023 - 9:49:26 PM
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692 posts since 2/5/2014

I am learning clawhammer on a scooped banjo. After finally getting the basic bum ditty, I moved my right hand over the scoop. Unfortunately my thumb keeps banging into the J hook right next to the neck. I lifted my hand up a bit higher, but eventually began running into the J hook again. Is there any advice about how to prevent this?

I tried looking for my question before posting, but no luck.

Feb 7, 2023 - 2:56:21 AM
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665 posts since 3/9/2013

I often find myself hitting that hook as well. Slight adjustments that I make can avoid it. I also replaced that hook with a flat hook to limit it. The rest are the thicker round style. You must play with your thumb more parallel to the head like I do.

Feb 7, 2023 - 3:19:34 AM
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623 posts since 2/8/2003

Get the wrist up off the head. Slightly arch and relax the wrist. Practice. Slowly.

Feb 7, 2023 - 4:18:57 AM
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355 posts since 5/25/2015

I also recently got my first scooped banjo and found the same thing happening. I find it works better if I move my whole body closer to the neck, either by angling the neck upwards more or leaning further forwards and towards the neck area when playing over the scoop. I'm still working on it, though.

Feb 7, 2023 - 5:46:44 AM
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Players Union Member



16570 posts since 8/30/2006

Your attitude is positive and very contagious. I have a friend who has a red dot on his nose on his driver's license. It gives him enough time to put on the red nose before they look up. He gets upgraded seating on aircraft. I was doing retail and it helped us have a better day. 

Remove the offending hook.

Some of you have 24 hooks, some have 16. Remove the 24th or 16th hook.  Or when the banjo is upside down, remove the 1st hook on the right next to the neck = the offending thumb grabber. 

For certain "Parlor" banjos there is some question as to why different necks are not available.
Also the industry is not necessarily driven by Computerized Numerical Control. Those particular necks have no "Toe" on the heel where you can hook the strap into that hook and lean the banjo towards you while playing.  The strap slips off because the CNC people have "chosen" features for you.

As a group, we posted a thread about programming a toe on the heel of a banjo neck, other programmers know it is possible to do that easily, like just change the program.

OK. that said:   over here, a friend of mine had the same problem with the same Maker's neck, it slipped off and he hit his thumb against the flat hook. two problems

A new build was spec'd with 18 hooks, but even the 18th hole wasn't even drilled .  He had a hook or toe in his new heel and a Sassafras rim with a Sassafras armrest cover. 

Spec builders decide for you.  Take it or leave it.  It lets people like me actually solve a nasty problem like this.  We want to play.  We want what works.

Here she is, the 6th of seven, with 17 hooks and a clear path to personal enjoyment. You can see where the 18th hook should be but isn't. 

So start by removing the offending hook.  The banjo will stay round and will play the same.  "The sky will fall!!"  Yes, it will, but not today.

If some say it won't then ask THEM to prove it.  Just play. 


And a little squirrel laundry to inspire song writing. 

Edited by - Helix on 02/07/2023 06:00:16

Feb 7, 2023 - 7:45:29 AM
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2142 posts since 8/30/2012

1) Slow down.

2) Adjust your hand motion to eliminate wasted movements and avoid hitting the banjo.

Feb 9, 2023 - 6:24:44 AM
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734 posts since 10/23/2003

quote:Best answer of all
Originally posted by KCJones

1) Slow down.

2) Adjust your hand motion to eliminate wasted movements and avoid hitting the banjo.

Feb 16, 2023 - 12:46:23 PM

130 posts since 7/16/2020

Hitting the J Hook is a good reason not to play over the scoop. Another good reason is that it is hard to get a strong rhythmic drive going when playing over the scoop.

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