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May 24, 2024 - 10:40:35 AM

cjwit

USA

19 posts since 1/12/2019

Hi everyone. I bet this is answered somewhere, but I didn’t see it when I searched. If there’s a thread, I’m happy to get booted over there.

TLDR: “hooking" the fifth string with my thumb on extended harmonies hurts my wrist. Suggestions?

I’m a working through Peter Wenick’s Blugrass Banjo book to shore up my three finger playing and I’ve always loved extended harmonies on the banjo. His section on playing up the neck gets into some neat sounding things, but when I try to get some of the extensions in his “Cedar Hill” tabs, it hurts in a way that is a bad sign. The more closed position thumb/on-the-5th-string shapes are fine, but these maj6 and add9 chords are different. I can get them in other ways, but the wraparound thumb seems useful.

I’m playing a Gold Tone open back (BC-350+) and I’ve been considering a resonator since I’m really digging the three finger summer I’m having. Is the narrow string spacing and thinner neck a big game changer here or is this just something I need to avoid so as to not get hurt?

Thanks everyone!

Edited by - cjwit on 05/24/2024 10:41:06

May 24, 2024 - 11:43:14 AM

723 posts since 5/21/2020

Took me a while to get the hang of fretting the 5th string with the thumb. I find that if I twist my wrist pushing the thumb over the strings with a loose hand it kinda works for me. It's kinda hard to explain. If my memory serves me correctly Bill Evans and Alan Munde covers this in one of their DVDs. Whatever you do don't grasp the neck tightly as your thumb will become sore. Tried & tested and can confirm it's painful.

May 24, 2024 - 12:25:35 PM

4849 posts since 10/13/2005

"don't grasp the neck tightly as your thumb will become sore."

AKA – "The DEATH GRIP!" banjered

May 24, 2024 - 1:04:08 PM

cjwit

USA

19 posts since 1/12/2019

quote:
Originally posted by banjered

"don't grasp the neck tightly as your thumb will become sore."

AKA – "The DEATH GRIP!" banjered


Hah! That made me think of Spaceballs, was it the Vulcan Neck Pinch or something?

Thanks, Fender. Should I take this to mean that a thinner resonator banjo neck isn't super consequential in this case? I don't have trustworthy places nearby to simply try them out, but I'm curious. 

Edited by - cjwit on 05/24/2024 13:11:04

May 24, 2024 - 1:52:50 PM

2467 posts since 2/9/2007

First, if you're holding the banjo in playing position and let go of the neck with your left hand, the neck should stay where it is. If it drops, figure out how to adjust your strap and/or hold the pot in place with your right arm so that your left hand is engaged only in placing those fingertips exactly when and where you want them, and doesn't have to do any extra work holding the neck up.

It will take some experimentation and practice to find what works best for you, but I like holding the neck nearly horizontal, but angled away from my body. When I'm seated, the pot is tucked under my right arm, and the peghead is a little ways left and outside of being over my left knee. If I let my left arm fall limp, then bend my elbow straight forward at 90 degrees, my left hand naturally meets the neck in the "first" position. If I'm fingering up the neck, I'll usually shift the neck back toward myself some.

May 24, 2024 - 2:34:15 PM
Players Union Member

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

30220 posts since 8/3/2003

I can't fret the 5th string with my thumb because of arthritis. I have found other ways to get around it, fret other strings that give the same sound, use a different fingering where I'll lhave a finger available for the 5th string or...... just avoid that particular note unless it's repeated over and over.

If it hurts your wrist, either find an easier way to do it or.... don't do it. You may be asking for wrist sprains or future arthritis if you misuse your wrist too often.

How's your hand position when picking? "Death grip" is mentioned above and that's when you have your whole palm or most of it in contact with the banjo neck. If you're doing that, try putting the fleshy part of your thumb on the back of the banjo and arching your hand over the fretboard. Then if you need to fret the 5th with the thumb partially flatten your hand and see if you can fret with your thumb without getting the wrist in a weird angle.

May 24, 2024 - 2:45:21 PM

723 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by cjwit
quote:
Originally posted by banjered

"don't grasp the neck tightly as your thumb will become sore."

AKA – "The DEATH GRIP!" banjered


Hah! That made me think of Spaceballs, was it the Vulcan Neck Pinch or something?

Thanks, Fender. Should I take this to mean that a thinner resonator banjo neck isn't super consequential in this case? I don't have trustworthy places nearby to simply try them out, but I'm curious. 


Not sure how the resonator applies here. Since we are talking about fretting the fifth string with the thumb. If we are talking about neck thickness In my experience not really I have both and my thumb gets equally painful. I will say that if you have railroad spikes up to the C position your in for some additional pain. 

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