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Dec 7, 2023 - 2:47:56 PM
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KatB

USA

288 posts since 9/3/2018

There are lots of posts from guitar players looking to try banjo. I'm looking for advice on going the other direction. I've been putting some time into guitar lately, just working on chords (taylor GS mini). Now I'm wondering what to work on with my right hand. What do old time guitarists do? I'm boggled by the possibilities (travis picking, atkins, flatpick, fingerstyle, rhythm guitar etc). I'm wondering what might make the most sense to a clawhammer player.

Maybe it's best to not confuse the right hand with a new style of fingerpicking, and I should just use a pick? Drop thumbing is easy for me, to any string. So at first I thought Travis picking would feel natural, but then the thumb is on the ONE which feels weird. Thoughts? thanks

Dec 7, 2023 - 2:58:03 PM
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2330 posts since 5/19/2018

Guitar is a whole different beast. A beautiful beast.

Just approach it the most comfortable way for you. Figure what you want to play, the type of music and what style you think would be most comfortable to start with and just go from there.

Do not over think the process. Just go with what feels most comfortable and natural and run with it.

One thing that does make all the difference in the world is the guitar. DO NOT use a cheapie P.O.S. Guitar. Banjos the day to be a bit forgiving is they are not just “so”. A guitar will just sound horrible and frustrate the living soul out of you if it is not set up right, has bad action, or won’t keep tune.

Enjoy the journey. Banjo helps the guitar in you and the guitar in you helps the banjo.

Dec 7, 2023 - 3:19:25 PM
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226 posts since 8/31/2015
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When I think of old-time guitar, the typical pattern that I generally think of is the "boom-chuck" rhythm (sounds kinda funny but that's the way I've always heard it described). This is a pattern where a single bass note is picked then the chord is strummed. Bass notes are generally on beats 1+3 and the strum is on 2+4. Some guitar players accentuate the bass notes on the down beat more (like the old recordings) whereas others prefer to accentuate the strum on the backbeat (more modern festival style old-time). Try and see what you like best. You can also have a lot of fun by including "bass runs", which are strong bass notes that lead or "walk" from one chord to the next.

This style uses a flatpick- I recommend using a big, heavy gauge pick for a good tone.

Although the style is generally pretty simple, it is a ton of fun to play in a jam session. I love playing old-time guitar in jams as much as, or even more than playing the banjo.

p.s. - There are as many old-time guitar styles as there are old-time banjo styles, but to me the "boom-chuck" is what is most commonly heard these days.

-TD

Dec 7, 2023 - 3:34:29 PM
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Paul R

Canada

16836 posts since 1/28/2010

Good on you for trying guitar. Listen to as much playing as you can and decide what you like best, Keep in mind that you may be hearing long-experienced professional players and the play every day for hours. Also, figure that you may be playing by yourself a lot of the time. while bqsic rhythm may be okay, it is possible to develop a decent fingerpicking style, which brings more of an "arrangement" to your playing.

Piedmont blues, as played by Elizabeth Cotten, is one such style. "Freight Train" used to be a rite of passage for budding fingerstyle guitar players. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2DCWfBkMSI 

There are lots of fingerstyle tutorials out there, It's a challenging but very rewarding playing style.

Dec 7, 2023 - 4:03 PM
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doryman

USA

1458 posts since 11/26/2012

Don't underestimate the value of a good bluegrass rhythm guitar player who can keep time. There are any number of youtube instruction videos on how to lay down the beat. You don't need to get too fancy to be of great value in a jam.

Dec 7, 2023 - 4:05:02 PM

doryman

USA

1458 posts since 11/26/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Alvin Conder



One thing that does make all the difference in the world is the guitar. DO NOT use a cheapie P.O.S. Guitar. Banjos the day to be a bit forgiving is they are not just “so”. A guitar will just sound horrible and frustrate the living soul out of you if it is not set up right, has bad action, or won’t keep tune.

 


I don't know if you are referring to the OP's Taylor GS mini but, if so, that's not a POS guitar. It's not expensive but it's fun to and easy to play.  It's also quite loud for what it is and could be used in small jam. 

Dec 7, 2023 - 4:09:59 PM
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630 posts since 4/14/2014

Are you in an open tuning on the guitar? I'm a big fan of some old parlour guitar in open G, D, and C tunings. It is a quick way to rework the songs you know on the banjo to the guitar.

I have the recordings of Lena Hughes -- just such a guitarist. Really enjoyed learning her "Kentucky Moon Waltz". Years later, I learned she was also a banjo player.

Edited by - Nic Pennsylvania on 12/07/2023 16:10:58

Dec 7, 2023 - 4:29:21 PM
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KatB

USA

288 posts since 9/3/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Nic Pennsylvania

Are you in an open tuning on the guitar? I'm a big fan of some old parlour guitar in open G, D, and C tunings. It is a quick way to rework the songs you know on the banjo to the guitar.

I have the recordings of Lena Hughes -- just such a guitarist. Really enjoyed learning her "Kentucky Moon Waltz". Years later, I learned she was also a banjo player.


I got the guitar a few years ago, and yes, at first I put it into banjo tunings and tried playing it like a banjo.  Super fun! Just recently I thought I would like to commit, and actually learn to play it in regular guitar tuning. Next, maybe I'll get out my "violin" and learn to play "fiddle." :D

Thanks, I'll look up Lena Hughes.

Dec 7, 2023 - 4:33:21 PM

630 posts since 4/14/2014

Lena Hughes is a wonderful gateway into ki' ahlu [sic] -- the Hawaiian slack key world.

Dec 7, 2023 - 5:33:24 PM
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dbrooks

USA

4620 posts since 3/11/2004

At the age of 17 or so, I had a magical summer during which I learned both Scruggs-style banjo and Travis-style guitar picking. This was in Bardstown, KY, the site of My Old Kentucky Home and a summer outdoor musical, "The Stephen Foster Story." Michael Lawrence was the banjo player in the musical that summer. I worked at a local pizza place where the cast came in after the shows. After a few nights, I chatted up Mike and he agreed to show me the basics on banjo and guitar. He actually did far more than that. He taught me "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" on the banjo and "Freight Train" on the guitar for starters, but he also let me hang around with him, including playing guitar behind him during his appearances in costume at My Old Kentucky Home State Park. Mr. Lawrence went on to study classical guitar with Aaron Shearer and, ultimately, became a noted documentary film maker with such award-winning films as "Bach & Friends" and "Manuel Barrueco: A Gift and a Life." He gave me a lifetime gift of music making.

My point is that you can find that what may be separate paths on banjo and guitar actually support one another. It is all music and what you learn in one style on banjo ultimately feeds and expands what you do on the guitar and vice versa. Follow your curiosity and your influences wherever they may take you.

David

Dec 7, 2023 - 7:15:24 PM
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cevant

USA

388 posts since 2/5/2020

Seek out Cameron Knowler on Youtube and then his website for some good approaches to OT backup guitar. Also, Carl Jones has some good YT videos on the subject.

There are probably enough free videos on YT to keep you busy for a bit, but Cameron also has a good book out.

https://youtu.be/2kwMSS60Mlg?si=pms3U84skmQ4d0xL

youtu.be/zioV_zVFrvA?si=DZO55Xu3Q5ZEVC26

Also, learn about Missouri Rules guitar

https://youtu.be/G8SXcHU_orA?si=I_Z9_NA4WTkUpQMo

https://oldtime-central.com/missouri-rules-of-harmony/

Edited by - cevant on 12/07/2023 19:25:52

Dec 7, 2023 - 7:33:53 PM

cevant

USA

388 posts since 2/5/2020

To hear the Missouri Rules in action, give a listen to this Rhys Jones album….
youtube.com/channel/UCp34Tw0En...hHFm-6lSm

Edited by - cevant on 12/07/2023 19:34:12

Dec 7, 2023 - 10:18:52 PM

raybob

USA

14026 posts since 12/11/2003

Playing guitar will add much to your musical experience. I started playing as a teenager and picked up the banjo I guess about 10-15 years ago. I mostly play old time on the banjo, but I play other stuff on guitar like swing and Western swing, some American songbook stuff, a few jazz standards etc. I played in a big band for a couple years and that stopped about 5 years ago. It was a lot of fun and also a lot of work. I was challenged to learn much, and it made me better. The old time group I play with is mostly friends, and there’s no need for me to play guitar there so that’s where I mostly play banjo.

Once you learn the cowboy chords and play what you like that way, the guitar can help you learn about music in general and open up other possibilities. Have fun!

Dec 7, 2023 - 10:36:01 PM
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3418 posts since 4/19/2008
Online Now

If you have Tabledii ttake a look at some of my tabs because if there’s an actual guitar part besides boom Chuck, I put in there what they’re doing not just the monotonous back up that you expect from a tab for banjo

Dec 8, 2023 - 8:26:44 AM
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Players Union Member

janolov

Sweden

42667 posts since 3/7/2006

There is also a style called clawhammer guitar. Check these videos for an introduction:

Steve Baughman: https://youtu.be/TIPj2281hn8

Molly Tuttle: https://youtu.be/U_LMc1GAEM4 and  https://youtu.be/OPkgpQNUaNE

Dec 8, 2023 - 12:29:27 PM

KatB

USA

288 posts since 9/3/2018

I do have tabledit! Thanks everyone for all the advice.
janolov , thanks for that, I had come across Steve Baughman a long time ago, but I couldn't remember the name and couldn't find him again.
cevant thanks for hunting up those links for me

Dec 9, 2023 - 7:27:14 AM

1378 posts since 8/7/2017

I played clawhammer guitar, a GS Mini, several years ago. It was fun. It was tuned to open chord, like a banjo with an extra string. I did the same with my D-28. Steve Baughman's instructional CD (The Power of Claw, a complete course in clawhammer guitar, from beginner to advanced) was useful to me (and fun to listen to). You will have fun, I am sure :-)

The neck may move (change it's bow) if you leave the guitar in clawhammer tuning (instead of normal guitar tuning). You may need to adjust the neck rod. No big deal for the GSMini. If you have an older guitar w/o an adjustable neck rod, might be better to return the guitar to it's normal tuning if you are leaving it unplayed for a couple weeks. Talk to the local guitar luthier about this. They can adjust the neck bow if you decide to dedicate the guitar to clawhammer.

Steve Baughman was very friendly when I contacted him.

Hope this helps.

Edited by - BrooksMT on 12/09/2023 07:29:02

Jan 25, 2024 - 7:34:12 AM

jojo25

USA

1636 posts since 12/1/2004

Jan mentioned playing guitar using the clawhammer right hand stroke...ala Molly Tuttle...long before I ever heard Molly do this I stumbled into this...one day I picked up a guitar to play...and did not have...nor could I immediately find...a flat pick...so I said...what the heck...and just started clawing the thing...it is fun...and if you already know how to claw it means you can focus on what your left hand needs to learn (assuming you are playing a right handed gitfiddle)...that said...clawing a guitar is definitely not mainstream guitar playing...for old time...or pretty much any style...but it works...in its own way
but for more mainstream OT guitar work...learn the basic bass runs to go between the typ chords used in OT...and have fun trying to get those bar chords clean and on time
working on a different instrument can really help your over all music skills...I play some guitar...and a bit of mandolin at times...but I really am a one instrument feller...and I will leave you with my fav Twain banjo quote...

"When you want genuine music -- music that will come right home to you like a bad quarter, suffuse your system like strychnine whisky, go right through you like Brandreth's pills, ramify your whole constitution like the measles, and break out on your hide like the pin-feather pimples on a picked goose, -- when you want all this, just smash your piano, and invoke the glory-beaming banjo!"

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