Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

797
Banjo Lovers Online


Jun 16, 2024 - 9:37:45 AM
22 posts since 12/27/2023

So I’m relatively new to banjo, and for a while have been trying to settle on a style to learn first. I pretty much immediately crossed of claw hammer, as I’m a chronic nail biter often to the point of bleeding (I’m trying to quit), and for a bit settled on Scruggs style. But then I found two finger thumb lead/classic style, and fell in love with the style. Now, it’s about time I change my strings (as my current ones have been on since at least December and don’t sound great anymore). So I was wondering, would you recommend nylgut or steel for these styles? Sorry if this is the wrong forum

Jun 16, 2024 - 9:43:22 AM

banjo bill-e

Tuvalu

13838 posts since 2/22/2007

Changing to nylgut will require a new bridge and possibly modifying the nut, and will feel very different so as to require a modification of your technique, so since you are new to banjo I would recommend that you stay with steel for now. Only change if you want a different sound. Also, most do not consider Two Finger and Classic to be the same style.

Jun 16, 2024 - 9:54:39 AM

242 posts since 1/7/2021

If changing strings and potentially wasting $15 isn't a big deal for you, I'd say just try it.

Technically you should do some setup adjustments to make them fit properly and sound their best, but they also might fit well enough to give them a test. Especially if you get labella 17s or another brand that's on the thin side.

On my first banjo I went back and forth between nylon and steel 4 or 5 times (mostly re-using the same strings) before buying a second banjo.

Regarding the styles, 2-finger is played both ways, but classic banjo is pretty much never done on steel strings.

edit: also don't discount clawhammer entirely, it can be played with little to no nail. It's quite common for folk-punk styles.  and check out rent strike if you don't listen to them :)

Edited by - A Drum On A Stick on 06/16/2024 10:00:23

Jun 16, 2024 - 10:22:21 AM

22 posts since 12/27/2023

A Drum On A Stick Alright, thank you! I think for now I’ll probably stick to steel lol, just as I don’t want to have a new set up at the moment and for now I’ll be mostly doing two finger more than classic

Also, in that case I might keep trying some claw hammer! I love folk punk as a whole. In fact, it was little foot who got me into banjo to start

Jun 17, 2024 - 5:44:28 AM

8359 posts since 9/21/2007

So, I’m still not clear on what “thumb lead” means. People have explained this to me in the past but for some reason the concept is not sticking.

Does this mean that every measure is always started by striking a string with the thumb? And if so, why would someone assign this arbitrary rule when it might not always be best choice for economy of movement?

Jun 17, 2024 - 7:33:25 AM
likes this

22 posts since 12/27/2023

@joel hooks it pretty just means that the thumb does melody and the high drone while index does the low drone

Edited by - Fungal Harmony on 06/17/2024 07:34:43

Jun 17, 2024 - 10:26:27 AM

8359 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Fungal Harmony

@joel hooks it pretty just means that the thumb does melody and the high drone while index does the low drone


Would this not create awkward and clumsy fingering?  "Alternate fingering" avoids repeating a single digit for smooth economy of movement.  I'm just not clear why one would assign this sort of structure. 

I think I understand "high drone" as referring to the 5th string, but what is "low drone"?

Jun 17, 2024 - 12:03:08 PM
likes this

22 posts since 12/27/2023

Joel Hooks its just the first sting pretty much, the high drone is used a lot more but occasionally the first string is used on its own, or more commonly for pinches

Jun 17, 2024 - 12:43:22 PM
likes this

banjo bill-e

Tuvalu

13838 posts since 2/22/2007

Joel, use your thumb to play only the simple melody, with support fingers resting on head. Then, use a finger and your thumb to add something to the melody, usually by droning either the first or fifth string.  A very simple elementary means of making music with a 5 string banjo, no rules at all, invented by those with no formal musical instruction in order to make music, and amazingly, some make it sound really cool. In fact, some simple Two Finger renditions sound better to me than the too-busy Bluegrass versions. And, of course, some take this simple method and run with it and create complex arrangements. 

Edited by - banjo bill-e on 06/17/2024 12:47:38

Jun 17, 2024 - 12:52:53 PM
likes this

banjo bill-e

Tuvalu

13838 posts since 2/22/2007

Lee Sexton Here is one who took it and ran with it.  

Jun 17, 2024 - 1:46:34 PM
likes this

76 posts since 6/22/2016

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
quote:
Originally posted by Fungal Harmony

@joel hooks it pretty just means that the thumb does melody and the high drone while index does the low drone


Would this not create awkward and clumsy fingering?  "Alternate fingering" avoids repeating a single digit for smooth economy of movement.  I'm just not clear why one would assign this sort of structure. 

I think I understand "high drone" as referring to the 5th string, but what is "low drone"?

 


The thumb lead two-finger style is one of many very pragmatic pattern approaches that uses the thumb to articulate melodies (as much as possible) while adding additional figuration to the melody by repeatedly playing the first string and fifth string as filler notes.  Sometimes the pattern includes repeated notes on the lower strings, this is probably what is being called low drones.

Joel, you are right to ask why use a pattern that precludes using logical fingering choices.  The answer is that the pattern creates sort of a constant filigree of sound around the melody notes played with the thumb.  It's a particular style that is perhaps a precursor to the various repeated patterns of the Scruggs style.

Jun 17, 2024 - 2:34:09 PM

450 posts since 6/20/2020
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Fungal Harmony

So I’m relatively new to banjo, and for a while have been trying to settle on a style to learn first. I pretty much immediately crossed of claw hammer, as I’m a chronic nail biter often to the point of bleeding (I’m trying to quit), and for a bit settled on Scruggs style. But then I found two finger thumb lead/classic style, and fell in love with the style. Now, it’s about time I change my strings (as my current ones have been on since at least December and don’t sound great anymore). So I was wondering, would you recommend nylgut or steel for these styles? Sorry if this is the wrong forum


The short answer, depending on the age of your banjo, is use whatever type and gauge strings feel and sound good to you.

Personally I like medium/heavy (10, 12, 15, 23W, 10) steel strings for clawhammer but find that on my modern banjos light gauge (9, 11,13, 20W, 9) steel strings are more responsive for two-finger playing without sacrificing volume or bass. If you're currently using medium/heavy steel strings I suggest spending a few dollars and trying a set of light steel strings before taking the time and effort to alter the nut slots for nylon strings. For thumb lead you may find that you like the light string set in combination with a slightly heavier (22W) 4th string.

Edited by - Pomeroy on 06/17/2024 14:44:17

Jun 18, 2024 - 9:02:03 AM
likes this

csacwp

USA

3377 posts since 1/15/2014

It's my understanding that the best two finger players don't limit themselves to "thumb lead" or "index lead" but employ both techniques as needed. Is this the case?

Jun 18, 2024 - 10:05:36 AM

91 posts since 9/2/2021

quote:
Originally posted by csacwp

It's my understanding that the best two finger players don't limit themselves to "thumb lead" or "index lead" but employ both techniques as needed. Is this the case?


I think this is true.  As I increase my 2F proficiency the "thumb lead" is still somewhat dominant but "index lead" gets used often in combination providing some good playing flexibility.

Jun 18, 2024 - 12:35:28 PM
likes this

RG

USA

3268 posts since 8/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by csacwp

It's my understanding that the best two finger players don't limit themselves to "thumb lead" or "index lead" but employ both techniques as needed. Is this the case?


Depends on how you define "best"... and not necessarily. Rosko Halcomb, considered one of the "best" thumb lead players didn't use index lead in his playing, and instead employed the thumb on the first string to pick up melody notes, using a TTI pattern.

Jun 25, 2024 - 4:42:18 PM

1092 posts since 10/23/2003

Not complex. 
2 finger banjo was around before metal strings,but it came to its glory and spread with metal strings, not gut or pseudo gut or nyltgut strings like gut strings since nyltgut makes some darker string with more of the feel of metal strings that sound like they would pop for 2 finger
   Myself I see myself as a student of banjo tradition and two figner playing is more for metal strings. 
While I love it on my tubaphones and my Enoch tradesman, if you want to be a serious about 2 finger, an RB might be in order. I have a bottom of the line RK Dirty 30s rb and I cannot put it down when I get 2finger picking.
That is what I think, but do what feels good and sounds good to you and if it is not what I or other people here think, as long as it is good to you enjoy!
Jun 25, 2024 - 5:19:53 PM

1092 posts since 10/23/2003

quote: There are a huge variety of two-finger styles.  Some are clearly derivative of the guitar banjo approach that Joel might call "classic banjo."  
Some appear to descend from W african finger 2 figner styles
  For years I payed chiefly thumb lead where most of the lead except maybe when you want a note on the 1st string is done with the thumb and the other finger is mainly rhythm on the top strings,.  Most 2 finger pickers use the index as the 2nd finger to the thumb, but some players I have seen and emulated for years use the thumb for lead and the middle finger is more for pinches or for sounding the 1st string for rhythm,. 
This approach I have seen at least traditionally played by  Kentucky mountain players or those who put their roots to that.  Our (Florida's)  Clay Black is about the most explicit person I have seen explain that style as a Style although i had been finger picking that way on the guitar before I got a banjo.
   Droning or hitting the 1st string with the middle gives the thumb a lot more room to build strike powerfully on the other strings.  Your thumb can get going,
On the other hand I have been studying more of an index lead 2 finger style with Pete Peterson the past couple years with both thumb and index lead approaches.
I would not call just playing thumb lead as limiting.  There is a certain power you get in rhythmic playing out of that thumb lead that is not there for index lead which tends to focus on the treble side  which seems pronounced in steel strung banjos.  It is particularly useful driving when you are accompanying a fiddler in just fiddle or banjo or playing for dancers, where your focus is less on the melody and more on rhythm.
 Scruggs had a story about how he just sprung up playing his style in 3 finger while playing Reuben 2 finger a lot, but I dobut it insofar as he was completely surrounded even in childhood with nearby folk who played the 3 or 4 fingered guitar-style from early childhood and could pick tunes they played all his life.
Both thumb lead and index lead have joys of their own and arent limitations, though  I do think that if you are trying to go up the neck  getting some Index lead in there can help, but the I think you can also extend 2 finger style playing by adding in a 3rd or 4 or even 5th (pinkie) at  times
Thanks
 
Originally posted by csacwp

It's my understanding that the best two finger players don't limit themselves to "thumb lead" or "index lead" but employ both techniques as needed. Is this the case?


Jun 25, 2024 - 5:27:22 PM

1092 posts since 10/23/2003

no one should call Roscoe limited

Jun 25, 2024 - 6:53:47 PM

banjo bill-e

Tuvalu

13838 posts since 2/22/2007

For a good "why 2 finger?" our own Jack Beuthin gives a great example here. The melody is out front in a way that would not happen with most Bluegrass players.     Jack's Deep Ellum Blues

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Privacy Consent
Copyright 2024 Banjo Hangout. All Rights Reserved.





Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.2030029