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Dec 3, 2023 - 3:53:38 AM

nodster

Thailand

1200 posts since 9/25/2003

This is just something that I've taken to doing thatI thought I might share, because I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else. When practicing rolls or picking patterns, try tying a bandanna or something similar around the neck above the 5th fret so that all the strings are muted. Instead of the usual (loud) ringing banjo, the sound becomes a quiet little musical 'pop' as each note is picked. I've found it's a useful trick because: -

1) As there's no 'after-ring' it's easier to hear any differences in the dynamics of each picked note.
2) Again, because there's no 'after-ring' it' easier to hear and fine tune any unnevenness in the timing between individual notes.
3) You can pick as 'loud' or as 'soft' as you like without annoying the neighbors or the family. I find that even with a towel inside my banjo, even if I'm in another room to the rest of the family I get inhibited about really digging in, especially in the evenings. With the strings muted it's possible to play around with picking pressure and yet nobody else notices anything. For me, it's helping to build some extra power and attack that stays there when the mute comes off.

Anyway, I just thought I'd throw the idea out there for anyone who might want to try it.

Dec 3, 2023 - 5:23:27 AM

663 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by nodster

This is just something that I've taken to doing thatI thought I might share, because I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else. When practicing rolls or picking patterns, try tying a bandanna or something similar around the neck above the 5th fret so that all the strings are muted. Instead of the usual (loud) ringing banjo, the sound becomes a quiet little musical 'pop' as each note is picked. I've found it's a useful trick because: -

1) As there's no 'after-ring' it's easier to hear any differences in the dynamics of each picked note.
2) Again, because there's no 'after-ring' it' easier to hear and fine tune any unnevenness in the timing between individual notes.
3) You can pick as 'loud' or as 'soft' as you like without annoying the neighbors or the family. I find that even with a towel inside my banjo, even if I'm in another room to the rest of the family I get inhibited about really digging in, especially in the evenings. With the strings muted it's possible to play around with picking pressure and yet nobody else notices anything. For me, it's helping to build some extra power and attack that stays there when the mute comes off.

Anyway, I just thought I'd throw the idea out there for anyone who might want to try it.


I just place the palm of my hand across the neck. Works just great

Dec 3, 2023 - 5:39:09 AM

3273 posts since 5/2/2012

Good idea. Less expensive than buying a banjo mute. Bassists (and probably guitar players) palm mute, but that's not going to work for well for most banjo players. They have also used hair bands across the frets and, yes, bandannas, then someone invented "fret wraps" to do the job of muting the open strings. Sympathetic ringing is a real issue in the bass world.

Dec 3, 2023 - 5:56:49 AM

3018 posts since 2/12/2005

Jack Hatfield has a whole set of instructions and exercises for picking on muted strings. He says that practicing with muted strings is a way to get your spacing even between notes, reduce excessive RH finger movements, etc. You get a booklet when you buy one of his practice boards. I got one when I was going to be traveling for a month without a banjo and didn't want to lose my touch.

Dec 3, 2023 - 7:42:04 AM
likes this

chuckv97

Canada

71526 posts since 10/5/2013
Online Now

I’ve used this for years…

Dec 3, 2023 - 7:58:17 AM

4770 posts since 3/28/2008

Rolled-up bandana under the strings at the bridge, touching the bridge on both sides AND touching the strings. I used to live in an apartment and practiced late at night, but I never got any complaints from the neighbors.

Dec 3, 2023 - 1:24:37 PM

4200 posts since 7/12/2006

Those little black binder clips, one on each end of the bridge make great mutes

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