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Feb 27, 2024 - 9:01:32 AM
2 posts since 12/30/2023

I am a 73 y.o. total beginner and I'm having trouble when I'm trying to fret strings. I have short, fat fingers and I am hitting two strings when I go for the 2nd or 3rd strings. Is there a trick to stop this cross string interference?

Feb 27, 2024 - 9:29:10 AM
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1633 posts since 11/10/2022

There are options. Buy a banjo or custom neck with wider spacings....or wait until you get good and see if your opinion changed. Calluses build up correctly and finger strength and position accuracy GREATLY increases with practice.

Curve your fingers, dont get sloppy flat fingers. I bet in a year of practise youll know better the neck you prefer.

Feb 27, 2024 - 9:47:16 AM
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133 posts since 12/26/2019

Check out the Bela Fleck banjo or just the separate neck from Gold Tone (Fleck describes himself as having sausage fingers)

Feb 27, 2024 - 10:22:51 AM
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2397 posts since 2/9/2007

No matter what size your fingers are, a big part of the work involved in learning to finger any instrument is figuring out how to stay out of your own way.

The first thing is to hold the banjo so the left hand is NOT supporting the neck, and the left arm is in a relaxed position. This is completely counter-intuitive for most beginners, and isn't something I see discussed nearly enough in books, video lessons, etc. Even one in-person lesson with a teacher who understands that will save you months of learning bad habits which can then take you years to un-learn.

Feb 27, 2024 - 11:05:24 AM
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3322 posts since 5/2/2012 will happen. Cut your fingernails very short, Build up those calluses. And you'd be surprised how little pressure it takes to fret a string if you fret correctly, so don't put a strangle hold on the neck.

Feb 27, 2024 - 11:16:33 AM
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4814 posts since 10/13/2005

All yep above. Also as a beginner you want to avoid "the death grip." As alluded to above that means fretting the strings as lightly as possible to get the job done and no more. fat-fingered banjered

Feb 27, 2024 - 11:46:17 AM
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238 posts since 2/20/2004

All the above BUT! Most important, don’t give up!

Feb 27, 2024 - 12:40:34 PM
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89 posts since 8/2/2014

Above advice will get you there. In the meantime, consider getting a new bridge with J.D. Crowe spacing. That will spread the strings a little wider.

Feb 27, 2024 - 1:21:19 PM
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79 posts since 6/24/2020

Try playing a fiddle for a while, then, when you go back to the banjo, the fretboard will feel down right roomy.

Feb 27, 2024 - 1:24:27 PM
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4645 posts since 3/11/2004

Fat fingers can affect both the left hand's fretting and the right hand's hitting inner strings. The Tom Collins video below deals with playing the inner strings cleanly with volume. The trick is that the single-string attack is directed more at the banjo head than the brush stroke which moves more parallel to the banjo head. Also, when playing an inner string, say the 2nd string, don't try to miss the lower 1st string. Strike the 2nd string and push into the 1st string to stop the downward motion. This is called a rest stroke in classic guitar. You might also have seen some bass players playing one string and using the next string to stop their fingers.

How To Clawhammer Banjo: Hitting Those Inner Strings (


Feb 28, 2024 - 6:39:41 PM
Players Union Member



2 posts since 12/30/2023

Thanks for all the answers! I will keep practicing and working on those calluses. David, I really appreciate the link, that just happens to be something else I needed help with.

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