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Apr 15, 2024 - 8:54:32 AM
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68 posts since 11/22/2020

Hi All,

I have been playing along to Flatt and Scruggs on YouTube playing Rolling in my sweet arms" and found that it was so fast I don't have time to play a vamping style where I alternate between (i) picking the 4th string with my thumb and then (ii) first, second and third strings simultaneously with M, I and T respectively. There just isn't time to move my thumb on consecutive beats.

So, instead I found myself alternating between (i) picking the 4th string with my thumb and (ii) picking just the second and third strings with I and M. This way my RH doesn't have to move. I'm vamping but only playing a partial chord.

Is that a legitimate way to vamp at speed ?

Otherwise I could just vamp the first, second and third strings on the offbeats and just not play the fourth string on the downbeats.

Thanks for any advice


Joe

Apr 15, 2024 - 10:05:04 AM

3792 posts since 4/5/2006

You have pretty much correctly answered your own question. All of those options are legitimate. Confirm by observing Earl.

Or, simply vamp the first & second strings on the off beat. In a band situation, the Bass & Guitar have the downbeat covered.

Apr 15, 2024 - 10:17:56 AM
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6055 posts since 3/6/2006

Yes. I always thought partial chords sound cleaner anyway. Especially at speed. If you think about it functionally, you’re just trying to add some percussive snap to drive the rhythm along.

Edited by - Laurence Diehl on 04/15/2024 10:19:08

Apr 15, 2024 - 10:47:51 AM
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16632 posts since 6/30/2020

It is generally agreed upon that when playing at speed, less is more. With that in mind a player can feel free to modify his playing style with various lick and vamping patterns as it pertains to the speed of the music played. There are many vamping patterns available that are suitable for a variety of speeds, some seem to work much smoother than others.
Here is an interesting free lesson from teacher Bill Evans:

youtube.com/watch?v=j8AQivdz9xU

Apr 15, 2024 - 12:41:33 PM
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15228 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Josephpetrie

Otherwise I could just vamp the first, second and third strings on the offbeats and just not play the fourth string on the downbeats.


This is what I do when a song is really fast. Or even when it's not.

I pick the 3-string chord then quickly release fretting pressure while keeping my fingers on the strings to kill the sound. It emulates the mandolin chop, which makes it particularly effective during a mandolin solo.

Apr 15, 2024 - 1:31:32 PM
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4496 posts since 6/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory
quote:
Originally posted by Josephpetrie

Otherwise I could just vamp the first, second and third strings on the offbeats and just not play the fourth string on the downbeats.


This is what I do when a song is really fast. Or even when it's not.

I pick the 3-string chord then quickly release fretting pressure while keeping my fingers on the strings to kill the sound. It emulates the mandolin chop, which makes it particularly effective during a mandolin solo.


Couldn't agree more.

Edited by - arnie fleischer on 04/15/2024 13:32:39

Apr 16, 2024 - 7:14:23 AM
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4833 posts since 3/28/2008

Yeah, just offbeats. The 4th string is good to throw in when it's just a couple of banjos playing (for example, in a private lesson). And learning the chop with the fourth string on the beat can help students feel anchored to the beat. But in real playing situations, there's almost always someone (guitar and/or bass) playing the beat, so the banjo doesn't need o do so.

Apr 22, 2024 - 10:26:29 AM

3792 posts since 4/5/2006

When not playing lead, you're playing back-up, complimenting whatever the lead player(s), which includes vocals, are doing. Otherwise, back off & stay out of the way!

Ben Eldridge was a master at this. If you're unfamiliar with his work with the Seldom Scene, his book, On Banjo, along with a collection of the Scene's CD's for reference material, provides detailed insight straight from the horse's mouth.

Edited by - monstertone on 04/22/2024 10:28:40

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