Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Forum Shops

Affiliates



Log in to see the full forum. Guests only see a taster!

Author Topic: Banjo players, Talk to me.  (Read 19006 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline morning

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 786

  • Total Badges: 22
    Badges: (View All)
    Level 5 Seventh year Anniversary Sixth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #25 on: Aug 13, 2008, 01:51:32 AM »
Oh, Duh. I thought my patron saint was Shiva. Lakshmi looks like my kind of girl

Offline madmat

  • Senior Moderator
  • Someone with 5 blobs
  • *****
  • Posts: 9,270
  • Gender: Male

  • Total Badges: 28
    Badges: (View All)
    Tenth year Anniversary Nineth year Anniversary Eighth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #26 on: Aug 13, 2008, 05:04:01 PM »
I thought my patron saint was Shiva. Lakshmi looks like my kind of girl
Shiva is the Destroyer ("I am Death, the Shatterer of Worlds...") not good vibes... and... a guy. :P

Lakshmi is also the Goddess of Domestic Health, and a lot of the iconography has her clutching a musical instrument resembling a lute in her "lower" pair of hands. Might as well be a banjo. :)
Not your mama, or Yo-yo Ma!

Offline morning

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 786

  • Total Badges: 22
    Badges: (View All)
    Level 5 Seventh year Anniversary Sixth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #27 on: Aug 14, 2008, 12:06:41 AM »
Excellent! That's my goddess! Thanks for saving me from the clutches of Shiva.

Offline Emma

  • Senior Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,127
  • Gender: Female
  • If you can walk, you can dance.

  • Total Badges: 28
    Badges: (View All)
    Tenth year Anniversary Quick Poster Nineth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #28 on: Aug 14, 2008, 04:19:47 AM »
What a dag-blasted, twisted, upside-down instrument it is.   
Took me half an hour to tune the damn thing!
It wouldn't stay in tune!  I had to give up any idea of all 5 strings being in tune at the same time!

Getting the resonator off was the easiest part of the exercise, and definitely worth doing.

I practised the G, C and G7 arpeggios until my fingers were sore.  That 5th string being an octave up feels so weird.  I was looking at the tab and the "lowest" note is really the highest.........freaky!  Now I know why banjo playing sounds sort of upside down - it's what I love about the sound, actually but it's going to take some getting used to.

My tutor book says it's for bluegrass banjo, and says to use finger picks.  Is this Scruggs style?

Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.
(Michael Pollan)

Offline Emma

  • Senior Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,127
  • Gender: Female
  • If you can walk, you can dance.

  • Total Badges: 28
    Badges: (View All)
    Tenth year Anniversary Quick Poster Nineth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #29 on: Aug 14, 2008, 04:37:21 AM »
I think my husband got the banjo about 25 years ago.  Maybe I should get new strings???
Or could be tuning whatsits be loose?
Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.
(Michael Pollan)

Offline Emma

  • Senior Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,127
  • Gender: Female
  • If you can walk, you can dance.

  • Total Badges: 28
    Badges: (View All)
    Tenth year Anniversary Quick Poster Nineth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #30 on: Aug 14, 2008, 04:56:11 AM »
What's frailing?
Is clawhammer style the same thing? 
I've heard guitar players talk about frailing too, I think.

Would Perlman's book Clawhammer Style Banjo be a good one to get?
Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.
(Michael Pollan)

Offline Don Stackhouse

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 633

  • Total Badges: 23
    Badges: (View All)
    Nineth year Anniversary Eighth year Anniversary Level 5
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #31 on: Aug 14, 2008, 05:23:54 AM »
A friend of mine tells the story of a guy in the local nursing home who had just turned 104. The local paper sent a reporter over to do an interview.

Reporter: "What's your biggest regret in life?"
Old Man:  "That I only spent 40 years of my life doing something productive."
Reporter: "What did you do with the other 64 years ??!!"

Old Man: "I TUNED THE BANJO !!"
« Last Edit: Aug 14, 2008, 12:18:35 PM by Don Stackhouse »

Offline morning

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 786

  • Total Badges: 22
    Badges: (View All)
    Level 5 Seventh year Anniversary Sixth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #32 on: Aug 14, 2008, 06:15:54 AM »
Now, that's' funny!!!
Emma, Good for you, girl. I am using a super cheapy entry level banjo and not having the tuning problems so it's probably got something to do with old strings. Hopefully not old tuners.
You're right. That fifth string seems kind of counter-intuitive. But Clawhammer uses is as a drone and it is said to "ring" as in " hear dem banjos ringin'"
Clawhammer takes about as long to learn as it takes to open a can of cat food. But then, you get to practice it for the next "40" years.

I just left that Chris Thile/Edgar Meyer concert at intermission. Both musicians are wonderful, and it's maybe that I just tire easily, but the music
wasn't exactly riveting and it definitely wasn't rousing.It was all extemporaneous except that which had been written by Edgar Meyer for violin(probably specifically Mark O'Connor)and bass.
Watching Chris grow up over the years has been kind of a trip. From rosy cheeked little fat kid to rumpled young adult, his musicianship has always been prodigious. Think of it. He's a musician who never had a "day job."

Offline Emma

  • Senior Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,127
  • Gender: Female
  • If you can walk, you can dance.

  • Total Badges: 28
    Badges: (View All)
    Tenth year Anniversary Quick Poster Nineth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #33 on: Aug 15, 2008, 02:45:45 PM »
I think I just got it (clawhammer vs bluegrass)

I've been looking at a bluegrass banjo book.  I've been plucking upwards with my fingers, and downwards with my thumb.

In clawhammer or frailing, you hit downwards using a fingernail on the full length strings, and pluck downwards on the 5th short string.

If I want to play Old time, I should learn the second style, yes? 

Spent another 10 mins on the G, C and G7 arps, before sore fingers stopped play.

Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.
(Michael Pollan)

Offline Luther

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 189

  • Total Badges: 19
    Badges: (View All)
    Seventh year Anniversary Level 4 Super Combination
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #34 on: Aug 15, 2008, 08:09:45 PM »
Most old time is claw hammer style. There are a few areas here in the south east where a 2 finger style is still played in old time but not much.

Offline Emma

  • Senior Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,127
  • Gender: Female
  • If you can walk, you can dance.

  • Total Badges: 28
    Badges: (View All)
    Tenth year Anniversary Quick Poster Nineth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #35 on: Aug 20, 2008, 02:53:43 PM »
Finally had a go at learning "bum ditty" last night.  I watched a YouTube video by Richard Heffner of EZfolk which was very clear, and then I watched another very good video.  I feel as though I know just what to do, but it's not as easy as it looks!!
It's learning from scratch all over again! I feel unco-ordinated; my hands don't do what I want them to. I get confused whether I'm on bum or ditty and strum when I'm supposed to pick just one string etc etc.

What a good thing I learned violin as a little kid who doesn't expect to do complicated things well.  Children must have a very high tolerance of failure and endless patience for learning.  I would never have stuck with learning fiddle at the age I am now!
Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.
(Michael Pollan)

Offline feodosia

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 710

  • Total Badges: 23
    Badges: (View All)
    Nineth year Anniversary Eighth year Anniversary Level 5
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #36 on: Aug 20, 2008, 03:35:52 PM »
  Yeah, Bum-ditty  is  for oldtime banjo and clawhammer is a great method to start with, lots of instruction material out there ...
Most old time is claw hammer style. There are a few areas here in the south east where a 2 finger style is still played in old time but not much.

    I use an awful lot of 2-finger picking in my oldtime banjo playing ....but you can blame Doc Watson for that !   :D

Offline frodopogo

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1,409

  • Total Badges: 22
    Badges: (View All)
    Level 5 Eighth year Anniversary Seventh year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #37 on: Aug 20, 2008, 04:05:02 PM »
Emma,

You too!
It's contagious!

Yes, bump-ditty = frailing = clawhammer

As Luther and Feo have said, fingerpicking IS an option in Old Time.
And sometimes you see a bluegrass band where they will use clawhammer
on certain songs for a different sound.

But those are pretty much "exceptions that prove the rule" that 99%
of the time
clawhammer = Old Time banjo and
Bluegrass banjo = fingerpicking.

Michael

Offline morning

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 786

  • Total Badges: 22
    Badges: (View All)
    Level 5 Seventh year Anniversary Sixth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #38 on: Aug 21, 2008, 05:10:38 AM »
Neurologically, the skill required for banjo, seems to be sequencing. It's  about patterns. As a novice, I find that every time I start to practice the banjo, I need to go through the bum ditty pattern or the front roll/reverse roll etc. Otherwise, I just end up tangling it all up. I tried playing behind Henry King's reel and could quickly tell that drop thumb will be my next thing to learn.

Offline madmat

  • Senior Moderator
  • Someone with 5 blobs
  • *****
  • Posts: 9,270
  • Gender: Male

  • Total Badges: 28
    Badges: (View All)
    Tenth year Anniversary Nineth year Anniversary Eighth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #39 on: Aug 22, 2008, 06:35:01 PM »
Neurologically, the skill required for banjo, seems to be sequencing.
It's a lot like Travis fingerpicking (alternating thumb bass - index/middle/ring) or those early, and time-honored arpeggio studies from the Heitor Villa-Lobos classical guitar etudes.

If you can alternate thumb/index, thumb/middle, thumb/ring in any order and figure out your left hand 1-4-5 chords you're most of the way there.

Thumb = p (pollex)
index = i (same in Latin... cool, huh?)
middle = m (median)
ring = a (annular)

... and then you work out all the patterns for groups of 2, 3 and 4 notes, alternating the thumb and the fingers singly and in groups.
p-i, p-m, p-a

p-i-m, p-i-a, p-a-i, p-m-i, etc.

p-i-m-a, p-m-i-a, p-a-m-i, yada yada.

Left hand is same as guitar, you hold chords and change 'em quickly slightly before the beat.
Not your mama, or Yo-yo Ma!

Offline morning

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 786

  • Total Badges: 22
    Badges: (View All)
    Level 5 Seventh year Anniversary Sixth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #40 on: Aug 25, 2008, 06:04:45 PM »
Madman, Oddly enough, I get that pima thing. Good god, do you think I'm getting my brain back? Lord, I hope so.
Well,my AIS is starting to itch again. So, Michael, talk to me a little bit about your Hohner travel banjo. Does it have a raised tone ring? Can it? Does it have a geared fifth string. Removable resonator? No resonator? (That would be ok too.) Like you, I don't want to carry an instrument that's as heavy as my bloodhound. But, I'm almost a joke in my band because all my instrments sold together wouldn't buy a tire for my truck.
How would you compare it to the basic Deering Goodtime? What, besides traveling is the advantage of the short neck?  Is the head standard size? Just how plinky is it?
Can you play it and send a sample to the website?

Offline madmat

  • Senior Moderator
  • Someone with 5 blobs
  • *****
  • Posts: 9,270
  • Gender: Male

  • Total Badges: 28
    Badges: (View All)
    Tenth year Anniversary Nineth year Anniversary Eighth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #41 on: Aug 25, 2008, 07:27:33 PM »
Madman, Oddly enough, I get that pima thing.
If you want to keep plinking away on guitar and not getting stuck into strumming I-IV-V progressions, Mark Hanson's fingerpicking books are really good for totally drilling these things into your brain for guitar, and a lot of it carries over for its more irritating cousin. You just learn different chords (which conveniently work out on the octave mando and regular mando!)
Not your mama, or Yo-yo Ma!

Offline frodopogo

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1,409

  • Total Badges: 22
    Badges: (View All)
    Level 5 Eighth year Anniversary Seventh year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #42 on: Aug 26, 2008, 05:36:49 AM »
Well,my AIS is starting to itch again. So, Michael, talk to me a little bit about your Hohner travel banjo. Does it have a raised tone ring? Can it? Does it have a geared fifth string. Removable resonator? No resonator? (That would be ok too.) Like you, I don't want to carry an instrument that's as heavy as my bloodhound. But, I'm almost a joke in my band because all my instrments sold together wouldn't buy a tire for my truck.
How would you compare it to the basic Deering Goodtime? What, besides traveling is the advantage of the short neck?  Is the head standard size? Just how plinky is it?
Can you play it and send a sample to the website?

All the banjo stuff (actually fiddle & banjo) I have on the ezfolk page is the Hohner Travel Banjo.

It has a small brass tone ring.  The pot is normal sized 11".
No resonator.
5th string is the normal cheapo kind, not geared.

The biggest flaw for me is the tuners; they are the cheapest possible tuners, and the gig bag is a close enough fit that it's hard to get
the banjo in and out of the gig bag without the tuners getting bumped.
So it means everytime I play it there is some serious retuning to do.
I am very likely going to replace them.

In addition, the 5th string tuner was loose straight from the factory.
It wasn't hard to fix, though.
I took a strip of computer paper, curled it like a ribbon, wrapped it around
the tuner's business end, dumped some serious wood glue in the hole,
and jammed it in, then wiped up the residue.  Never a problem since.
That would also be a good installation method for an aftermarket
geared 5th string peg.

The banjo's tone is very pleasant compared to many I've heard.
Then again I've tried to mellow it by putting masking tape (beige)
in a cross pattern under the bridge on the underside of the drumhead.
It's really not visible from the front, but really mellows the tone.

I also don't tighten the head very tight- just a fairly light hand tight.

Hohner also makes a full sized banjo with the same pot and hardware,
but a full length neck.  That would give you more versatility
for playing in different keys.

The travel banjo makes sense for me, since:
1. I play in "2 C's" tuning 90% of the time
2.With the short neck I don't have to bother capoing up,
but just tune up to D.
3. I sing well in the key of D.

I tried a Goodtime banjo once and liked it,
but have not done an A/B comparison with the Hohner.

I really like how my banjo sounds.
I've gotten to try some much fancier banjos (Bart Reiter, Wildwood)
and I'm not that impressed.

I have though about getting the full length version Hohner too.
It's not that necessary for me since at local jams, I'm always the fiddler.
But for jamming, having the versatility of being able to capo from C to D and from G to A is very important.

Offline morning

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 786

  • Total Badges: 22
    Badges: (View All)
    Level 5 Seventh year Anniversary Sixth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #43 on: Aug 26, 2008, 07:32:58 PM »
Clever fix on the tuning gear. I'll have to remember it, no matter what I decide on. Also, a nice idea on mellowing the bridge. It would be interesting to see how other folks have modified their banjos to adapt to their taste.
On another topic, My fiddle teacher just went to Clifftop and bought from Will Fielding. He brought home the banjo named Catamount. God what a beauty.
Such clear sweet tones. It is priced on the website well above 2000.00. But I susupect my teacher did a barter. He builds Pomeroy mandolins. You ought to check out Will Fieldings website. For that matter, you ought to google Pomeroy Mandolins too. These lovely little hand crafted instruments are so expensive, but they really can be unique and..  refreshingly un-chinese.

Offline chaoscat

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 100

  • Total Badges: 21
    Badges: (View All)
    Level 5 Nineth year Anniversary Eighth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #44 on: Sep 03, 2008, 03:09:22 PM »
I picked up a banjo about a little over a year ago. My intent was to learn 3 finger Earl Scruggs style. But, I stumbled across Clawhammer and fell in love. I still think about learning 3 finger style, but there are just so many hours in a day.

The more time I spend with it, the more I realize that a Clawhammer banjo is a very melodic style. Yes, you can bum ditty chords as backup or for singalong. But, I play many of the same songs on the banjo that I do on the fiddle.

I don't practice scales or arpeggios. Those might be of help, but to me that's just not what banjo is about. It's about exploring melodies and rhythms, with just enough chord backup to keep things interesting. In the process, I've written 3 songs over the last year. Not really planning to, they just kind of flowed out while messing with Double C tuning (which I absolutely love)

One of my biggest challenges is not letting banjo suck away all the practice time for my fiddle. I've ended up taking the banjo to work, and practice that during lunch at a local park-then practice fiddle at home. Which works fine during the warm months, but not so good over the winter. Then banjo is limited to the week ends. :(

Another challenge, now I have ANOTHER instrument to spend money on for an upgrade. My Gold Tone CC-100 R was fine for the first year, but now I'm eyeballing a Vega Little Wonder, trying to work that into my budget.  Of course my wife asks, How can you TELL it's a better sounding banjo? (banjo's get no respect):D

Offline jenford

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1,207

  • Total Badges: 22
    Badges: (View All)
    Level 5 Tenth year Anniversary Nineth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #45 on: Oct 04, 2008, 01:18:14 AM »
I took some clawhammer lessons up at the Alaska camp - and loved it.  Fedex busted the headstock off of the Deering Goodtime that I shipped back home.  Bought a used Goldtone Whyte Ladye off of a gentleman from the banjohangout forum (and it is a nice affordable banjo)- still have the busted Goodtime in the corner of my diningroom. 
Clawhammer is fun - and it's great to play with a fiddler friend.
Everyone I talk with about banjos admits that 3 finger (Scruggs style) really really takes alot of time and effort.  So if you are trying to play 2 instruments - probably clawhammer is best for that kinda situation.

 

Offline frodopogo

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1,409

  • Total Badges: 22
    Badges: (View All)
    Level 5 Eighth year Anniversary Seventh year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #46 on: Oct 05, 2008, 02:50:25 AM »
Sorry to hear about the busted banjo!

I agree, clawhammer banjo makes a good side instrument-
once you get past the fairly steep initial learning curve of
getting the clawhammer motions, it's kind of like riding a bicycle,
you never really forget, and if you aren't intent on complex melodic
clawhammer, it's not that demanding an instrument, time-wise.

I took some clawhammer lessons up at the Alaska camp - and loved it.  Fedex busted the headstock off of the Deering Goodtime that I shipped back home.  Bought a used Goldtone Whyte Ladye off of a gentleman from the banjohangout forum (and it is a nice affordable banjo)- still have the busted Goodtime in the corner of my diningroom. 
Clawhammer is fun - and it's great to play with a fiddler friend.
Everyone I talk with about banjos admits that 3 finger (Scruggs style) really really takes alot of time and effort.  So if you are trying to play 2 instruments - probably clawhammer is best for that kinda situation.

 

Offline giannaviolins

  • Someone with 5 blobs
  • *****
  • Posts: 6,110

  • Total Badges: 24
    Badges: (View All)
    Search Mobile User Windows User
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #47 on: Oct 05, 2008, 05:29:08 AM »
Deering might be able to simply ship out a new neck complete.  Banjos are essentially kits put together by somebody.  Generally, a very nice good setup should occur & then be left alone on a banjo.  There's lots of modern tweekings to get a fat sound, with softer head tension and the like.  Doesn't work, it's just muddy. 

I played a few of the best banjos today, although not all of them.  I'm thinking a very fine high end instrument is the Desert Rose by Scott Zimmerman.  Uses the Pass timeless timber block rim, which I am highly impressed by.  And Scott's work is always first class.

On the lower end, I took a gander at the Recording King banjos while Greg Rich was bending my ear.  I'm impressed with those, too.

But there are so many good banjomakers out there.  The biggest challenge may be keeping players' mitts off the do-hickies.  Never give a banjo player a wrench!

Offline jenford

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1,207

  • Total Badges: 22
    Badges: (View All)
    Level 5 Tenth year Anniversary Nineth year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #48 on: Oct 09, 2008, 12:28:27 AM »
Yeah - Deering would sell me a neck but won't let me have it unless i ship them the pot and pay them to fix it.
I ended up buying a used goldtone Whyte Ladye - for not a lot of cash.  I also admit I have a pre-1900 SS Stewart Thoroughbred that I purchased several years ago as a fun collector type piece.  It's more a classical banjo setup with nylgut strings - it's a beauty.

Best,
jen (secret banjo lover) ford


Offline frodopogo

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1,409

  • Total Badges: 22
    Badges: (View All)
    Level 5 Eighth year Anniversary Seventh year Anniversary
Re: Banjo players, Talk to me.
« Reply #49 on: Oct 11, 2008, 07:30:24 AM »
Yeah - Deering would sell me a neck but won't let me have it unless i ship them the pot and pay them to fix it.
I ended up buying a used goldtone Whyte Ladye - for not a lot of cash.  I also admit I have a pre-1900 SS Stewart Thoroughbred that I purchased several years ago as a fun collector type piece.  It's more a classical banjo setup with nylgut strings - it's a beauty.

Best,
jen (secret banjo lover) ford



Maybe you could find someone to make a custom neck for the pot- I always thought the Deering Goodtimes sounded good, but the headstock
is a bit odd looking- too guitar-like for a banjo, IMO.

You could do something interesting, too, like having an A-scale neck made for it, or a fretless, or???
Maybe some banjo maker has a cosmetically flawed neck that could be fitted to
that Good Time pot.
I bought such a neck once, and had it mounted on a Vega tenor banjo pot- made a nice 5 string- I should have kept it!

 




Get Adobe Flash player


Fiddle and Alternative Strings Forum (c) 2016 Mark Knight /
SONiC FUEL
SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2020, SimplePortal