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May 22, 2024 - 10:41:33 AM
666 posts since 11/2/2009

Just wondering if Earl Scruggs did much in the way of fretting the 5th String, either with thumb-over, or reaching over with any of the other 4 fingers.

May 22, 2024 - 2:59:02 PM
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9617 posts since 8/30/2004

Watch some videos on youtube of Earl and you'll get your answer quickly. I'm surprised at the question but that's showbiz...Jack

May 22, 2024 - 3:34:06 PM
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Players Union Member

corcoran

Canada

560 posts since 8/3/2004

Take a look at page 74 of the first edition of the Scruggs book, in which there is a photo of him fretting the 5th string with his thumb to produce a 6th or 7th chord in backup. And, as Jack said, you can see him doing this in various videos. I don't recall seeing him fretting the 5th with his index, although Bill Keith often did. Michael

May 22, 2024 - 3:37:08 PM
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chuckv97

Canada

72107 posts since 10/5/2013

You might be thinking of during his solos, rather than backup. I don’t recall him doing that anywhere.

May 22, 2024 - 3:55:56 PM
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9617 posts since 8/30/2004

Hi Chuck,
Yes, that would be his solos for sure. I assumed we were talking about solos not backup....happy Summer soon

May 22, 2024 - 4:20:50 PM

15255 posts since 6/2/2008

What Chuck said. He thumbed the fifth string all the time to add color to F and D shaped chords up the neck, but fretting the fifth string within his rolling leads is not something he was known to do.

But never say never. Tony Trischka received a thumb drive full of not-previously-public recordings of Earl jamming with John Hartford. It has lots of examples of Earl playing things that were not in his professional repertoire and occasionally doing things he never did on record before. Tony has shared some of that in lessons on his ArtistWorks school. I'll post a message there asking if in any of the recordings he hears Earl fretting the fifth string in a lead.

May 22, 2024 - 5:23:02 PM
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666 posts since 11/2/2009

Before I posted I reviewed 186 pages including 80 songs of tab from the book "Earl Scruggs Banjo Songbook". I don't know the release date, but Jim Mills wrote the forward, and it has a picture of Jim Mills and Earl Scruggs taken in 2020, so the book would have been released after that date.

I saw a thumb over 3 times in Flop Eared Mule, a couple of repeated rolls where he thumbs over at the 10th in Just Joshin' and in Lonesome Road Blues - but that was all.

So my post was whether he "did much". Only the Usual Suspect felt a need to throw shade on me for asking. Thank you to every one else for your always thoughtful and respectful comments.

May 22, 2024 - 5:36:09 PM

15255 posts since 6/2/2008

Cool.

Of course it should have occurred to me that the same type of thumb wrap he did on up-the-neck chords in backup would be used in lead phrases that were essentially rolling on held chords.

May 22, 2024 - 6:20:05 PM

chuckv97

Canada

72107 posts since 10/5/2013

Interesting, I never realized he did that on any solos. I had the album with Just Joshin’ on it,, never caught that. The vol.10 of the best of the tv shows is not on YouTube so I couldn’t listen to Flop Eared Mule ,, many of the others shows are available free

Edited by - chuckv97 on 05/22/2024 18:20:31

May 22, 2024 - 6:28:24 PM

9617 posts since 8/30/2004

Gregory,
No one, including me, was trying to insult you. Earl did fret the 5th string often but usually as an added "color" note to his instrumental songs or breaks. To an educated musical ear it would have amounted to a "Major 7th chord or a Major 6th chord and more possibilites. That is not what Earl was trying to do, he just wanted to play the best that was possible to make his instrumentals more colorful. So no need for too much dissecting of every nuance/note that Earl was playing in his work...Jack Baker

Originally posted by gcpicken

Just wondering if Earl Scruggs did much in the way of fretting the 5th String, either with thumb-over, or reaching over with any of the other 4 fingers.


Edited by - Jack Baker on 05/22/2024 18:32:10

May 22, 2024 - 8:06:45 PM
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666 posts since 11/2/2009

Love you all, honest!

May 23, 2024 - 6:19:38 AM
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4846 posts since 3/28/2008

quote:
Originally posted by gcpicken

 and it has a picture of Jim Mills and Earl Scruggs taken in 2020, so the book would have been released after that date.
 


Scruggs died in 2012. Typo?

May 23, 2024 - 7:11:15 AM
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RB3

USA

2025 posts since 4/12/2004

I think the most iconic example of its use in a solo is the B7 in Dear Old Dixie.

May 23, 2024 - 8:30:45 AM
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corcoran

Canada

560 posts since 8/3/2004

I should have remembered that Earl fretted melody notes with his thumb on the tunes others have identified: the B7 in Dear Old Dixie, and the C9 (or Bb9, or whatever the notes C - Bb - D constitute) in Lonesome Road Blues and Just Joshin'. In Flop Eared Mule, however, he thumb-fretted the fifth string only in his backup to the fiddle, as far as I can tell from the video. So he rarely played melody notes by thumb-fretting the fifth string, but he did do it.

May 23, 2024 - 8:35:34 AM

15255 posts since 6/2/2008

Took a look at Flop-Eared Mule and Lonesome Road Blues in the 2022 Scruggs Songbook, which confirmed their uses of fretted fifth string was the same as what Earl did in backup: adding color to an F or D chord shape up the neck.

So, yes, Earl fretted the fifth string, which I thought we all knew.

But as far as I know (we know?) he never fretted it in the context of a melodic phrase such as 5@0   2@10   1@9   5@10   1@12.    

Hope you can read my intent there.  For years now I've not been able to post text tab using the Hangout's monospace "Formatted" text style.

May 23, 2024 - 8:35:36 AM
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Players Union Member

corcoran

Canada

560 posts since 8/3/2004

quote:
Originally posted by Ira Gitlin
quote:
Originally posted by gcpicken

 and it has a picture of Jim Mills and Earl Scruggs taken in 2020, so the book would have been released after that date.
 


Scruggs died in 2012. Typo?


Jim Mills's introduction is dated 2020, not the photo of Jim with Scruggs.

May 23, 2024 - 10:30:08 AM
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666 posts since 11/2/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Ira Gitlin
quote:
Originally posted by gcpicken

 and it has a picture of Jim Mills and Earl Scruggs taken in 2020, so the book would have been released after that date.
 


Scruggs died in 2012. Typo?


Wow, yes. I'll check the book and print the page here. Thank you!

May 23, 2024 - 10:41:03 AM
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666 posts since 11/2/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory

Took a look at Flop-Eared Mule and Lonesome Road Blues in the 2022 Scruggs Songbook, which confirmed their uses of fretted fifth string was the same as what Earl did in backup: adding color to an F or D chord shape up the neck.

So, yes, Earl fretted the fifth string, which I thought we all knew.

But as far as I know (we know?) he never fretted it in the context of a melodic phrase such as 5@0   2@10   1@9   5@10   1@12.    

Hope you can read my intent there.  For years now I've not been able to post text tab using the Hangout's monospace "Formatted" text style.


Hi Ken - I did know that he fretted the 5th, from having reviewed the tab - my post was if he did it "much".  I have been working some Alison Brown licks and she uses a lot of her other four fingers. This seemed like it would be difficult, until I started doing it, and now it seems much more natural - as guitar players we reach over 6 strings to fret a note, so it makes sense that fretting the 5th with one of our other 4 fingers should not be a "stretch" (pun intended). 

Jun 1, 2024 - 7:01:37 PM
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15255 posts since 6/2/2008

Hi, guys.

I did get around to asking Tony Trischka if the Hartford jam recordings included any examples of Earl fretting the fifth string in ways we've never heard before. Here's his answer:

Hey Ken. Great question. I just went through all 35-40 of the tunes I've transcribed and there was nothing that I found where he was fretting the fifth string in a new (melodic?) way. There are still a lot of other tunes from the jams that I haven't transcribed, but chances are, there's nothing unusual in that department. I'll keep checking on it though, as I do more transcriptions. 

Edited by - Old Hickory on 06/01/2024 19:02:11

Jun 2, 2024 - 10:06:24 AM

666 posts since 11/2/2009

Thank you, Ken! Old Hickory

Jun 3, 2024 - 7:55:32 AM
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9617 posts since 8/30/2004

Hi Ken,
I think Earl used his thumb on the 5th for backup chords mostly. He never strayed into melodic playing as we know it. Wrapping his thumb around the 5th string made for some very pretty and tasteful backup chords and also kept the rolls he used, interesting...Jack

Originally posted by Old Hickory

Hi, guys.

I did get around to asking Tony Trischka if the Hartford jam recordings included any examples of Earl fretting the fifth string in ways we've never heard before. Here's his answer:

 

Edited by - Jack Baker on 06/03/2024 07:57:27

Jun 9, 2024 - 9:42:20 PM

chuckv97

Canada

72107 posts since 10/5/2013

Jim, I agree about studying Earl to the n’th degree as did Sonny and J.D. But I hope your post wasn’t one of those anti-northeast attitudes (re “Yankee pickin’”) we used to hear about in the 1960’s and 70’s. Your reference to Trischka and Wernick made me think that. As you know, Bobby Thompson, Jack Hicks, & Carl Jackson - all proud southerners, I’m sure - played beautiful melodic/chromatic style banjo, and yes, they probably intensely studied Earl’s recordings first.

Edited by - chuckv97 on 06/09/2024 21:43:30

Jun 10, 2024 - 7:16:33 AM
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4846 posts since 3/28/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Jack Baker
FE,
Where did you get the idea that I played banjo. I've never touched a banjo. I'm a dog groomer and a Hammer Dulcimer player. But I am glad now that you "vented" perhaps you feel much better....People mix me for Jack Baker of NYC. I'd never go near that dump....Feel better....John Badker Harley.....
Originally posted by Flying Eagle
quote:
Originally posted by Jack Baker
To an educated musical ear it would have amounted to a "Major 7th chord or a Major 6th chord and more possibilites. That is not what Earl was trying to do, he just wanted to play the best that was possible to make his instrumentals more colorful. So no need for too much dissecting of every nuance/note that Earl was playing in his work...Jack Baker

 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSy5mEcmgwU&pp=ygUQc2FyY2FzbSBkZXRlY3Rvcg%3D%3D

Jun 10, 2024 - 11:30:36 AM

9617 posts since 8/30/2004

Ira,
Thanks for the brilliant snappy reply. When I learn who Earl Scruggs is and how to play what is called a banjo I'm leaving this cesspool.  I'm taking a break so that idiots like the one who posted to me will catch on what BHO is even about and which people have been participating for over 20 years. Perhaps accounting doesn't require much intelligence at all....I thought flaming was over but Ha, dead wrong...

Edited by - Jack Baker on 06/10/2024 11:38:16

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