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Two-Finger Banjo

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chip a 09 Mar 01 - 03:56 PM
GUEST,Les B 09 Mar 01 - 04:15 PM
chip a 09 Mar 01 - 04:37 PM
GUEST,Roll&Go-C 09 Mar 01 - 04:44 PM
Deckman 09 Mar 01 - 11:22 PM
lloyd64 09 Mar 01 - 11:25 PM
Deckman 09 Mar 01 - 11:27 PM
Rick Fielding 09 Mar 01 - 11:33 PM
Art Thieme 10 Mar 01 - 01:31 AM
Banjer 10 Mar 01 - 05:52 AM
Little Neophyte 10 Mar 01 - 06:25 AM
Banjer 10 Mar 01 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,chip a 10 Mar 01 - 10:47 AM
Rick Fielding 10 Mar 01 - 10:52 AM
BanjoRay 10 Mar 01 - 10:57 AM
chip a 10 Mar 01 - 11:07 AM
BanjoRay 10 Mar 01 - 11:50 AM
chip a 10 Mar 01 - 03:06 PM
chip a 28 Jun 02 - 11:24 AM
BanjoRay 28 Jun 02 - 12:39 PM
chip a 28 Jun 02 - 03:23 PM
GUEST,Dave Cannon 12 Jul 12 - 11:47 AM
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Subject: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: chip a
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 03:56 PM

Anybody still play two finger banjo? I've been doing it with index lead (sometimes switching to thumb lead to find a few notes)for a long time. Around here it's all bluegrass & some clawhammer.


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: GUEST,Les B
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 04:15 PM

Once in a while I play a sort of two-finger style, with index or thumb lead. More often I do a 3-finger, pseudo bluegrass style with picks or, occasionally, rudimentary clawhammer picking.

Do you use fingerpicks for your style ? I like the feeling of bare fingers but usually its too soft a style to be heard among several other instruments in a bar jam.


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: chip a
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 04:37 PM

I have used picks but I like playing without better. I use a lot of drop thumbing too. The sequences are similar to clawhammer but picking UP with the hand braced on the head. Sometimes with a brush from the back of the index fingernail. Can't do that with a pick on or it'll fly accross the room!


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: GUEST,Roll&Go-C
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 04:44 PM

I used to do what Pete Seeger called "double thumbing" and then found out I could do the pattern more smoothly by replacing the thumb melody pluck with the index finger, and using the middle finger for the first string pluck. I also sometimes vary the middle finger pluck with a middle finger brush strum.


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: Deckman
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 11:22 PM

Sounds like "mountain pickin'" to me. This was what we did in the early fifties in Seattle ... John Ashford, Irwin Nash ... good folks, all. CHEERS. Bob


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: lloyd64
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 11:25 PM

I like playing without a thumb pick. Without realizing it I notice that my middle wants to get into the action, so it sneeks in from time to time. I keep my finger nails cut about 1/16th of an inch to grab the strings, but my thumb is triditional drop thumb.

I wish I played better but Claw Hammer people and Bluegrass people are not able to help me, they just want me to change to my style.

I don't think I'll change. I like thumb and index finger style. it has a VERY old mountain sound.

lloyd62


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: Deckman
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 11:27 PM

... now that I reminded myself ... I remember that Guy Carawan and Don Firth and I had a weekend conversation about this very topic. It was up on the top of Grouse Mountain, canada, 1961. Guy, if you particilapate on mudcat, why don't you jump in here and speak to two finger, double thumbin', three finger, etc. CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 09 Mar 01 - 11:33 PM

Hi Chip. I think the old 'two finger' style is disappearing rapidly. Still lots of folks that are doing it, but it simply hasn't had the 'advertising' that drop thumb or Scruggs style has. I pick a number of tunes in that style, and have always enjoyed listening to Wade Mainer and Doc Watson...two masters of the genre. Remember the late Dave Aikman (Stringbean) also played that way.

Tell us a bit about what you play, who you play with, and other tidbits.

Rick


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: Art Thieme
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 01:31 AM

I do believe I remember Ralph Stanley (as well as Doc) pickin' banjo with just two fingers. I played with two until, about 3 years in, I consciously added the third finger. Third finger stays with the first string mostly. The first finger stays with the 2nd string or goes inside too on occasion.

Art


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: Banjer
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 05:52 AM

I'm glad to hear I am not the only one that uses two fingers most of the time. I too have asked several folks about my 'unique' style and all I have heard is how I should 'learn to play the instrument right'!! Hell it seems to me that as long as I can play something and those listening recognize the song, it should count. I get so tired of folks that know only one style of playing telling me how wrong I am! I have experimented with three finger to some success, I play a passable clawhammer when I want, and will also experiment with other 'methods'. The resulting sound will be MY style. After all, if we talk of developing new styles and different ways of playing, that's exactly 'what Earl did', isn't it?


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 06:25 AM

Experiementing with different picking styles has much to offer. I figure gradually all the style you incorporate in your repertoire would improve over time if you continuted to work diligently on each style. But.....at the same time.....I am not sure how deep I would be able to go within each style. The question being, am I spreading myself out too much creating a thin soup?
I am now wondering what would happen if I just narrowed in on one particular style, lets say for me right now it would be focusing on clawhammer. Say I worked soley on my clawhammer style for a few years. Would I be able to go deeper into the style to a level I would never have reached if I was developing a variety of styles all at the same time?
This is my new exploration. We will have to see what happens. I'll bring up this thread again 3 years down the road and let you know.

Little Neo


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: Banjer
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 09:57 AM

Lil Neo, I tried to apply myself, but it didn't work. Trying to stay with just one style to me is boring...not boring...I could never get tired of playing my banjo...maybe monotonous is a better word. I find myself using clawhammer and all of a sudden comes a phrase where I want to stick in two extra notes and poof, clawhammer turns to picking and back quicker than you can say supercalafragalisticexpialidotious.


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: GUEST,chip a
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 10:47 AM

Well, it's heartening to see that so many people are familiar with two finger banjo! The first time I ever heard a banjo played right in front of me was about 30 yrs ago. I HAD to have a banjo and learn to make that kind of noise. That man has been gone a while but his sound is still ringing in my head. Back then, the old people around here played a variety of two finger styles and I picked up what I liked the sound of. So now I guess I don't sound like anybody! Which is too bad, 'cause some of those old guys were awful good! lLoyd & Banjer--I've been hearing "change to Scruggs style" for years. Have you heard Laura Boosinger's c.d. "Down the Road"? She has a great two finger cut on there as well as her beautiful clawhammer stuff. Chip


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 10:52 AM

Art. The Stanley Brothers first recordings on Rich'rTone have Ralph's two finger style. Other interesting players are Pete Steele and the old lawyer cum folklorist Bascom Lamar Lunsford.

Rick


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: BanjoRay
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 10:57 AM

I've just been listening to a CD called Uncle Henry's Favorites by Marvin Gaster - He's a superb old time two finger picker from Lee County, North Carolina. I got to play a little with him at Jake Krack's session in Clifftop last summer. It's a lovely melodic style that really conveys the tune. In the same holiday I got to see and hear Will Keys - another of the two finger greats. I think there's still a few left. I don't think I'll ever do it though, I'm a died-in-the-wool clawhammerererer.

Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: chip a
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 11:07 AM

What, where & when is Clifftop? Chip


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: BanjoRay
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 11:50 AM

Clifftop is the Old Time String Band festival held at Camp Washington Carver near the New River Gorge in West Virginia. Last year it was in very early August for most of a week - the exact date escapes me at the moment. A brilliant festival in a large woodland campsite with world class OT sessions everywhere all week - a real eye and ear opener. It has a website at http://www.wvculture.org/sites/string.html

Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: chip a
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 03:06 PM

Ray Thanks for the web address. I'd love to go. We'll see. Chip


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: chip a
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 11:24 AM

Well, my wife Tish & I did go to Clifftop last year. A "real eye and ear opener" it was too! Thanks Ray. I got to hear Marvin Gaster play and since then I have discovered Will Keys on cd and have e-mailed back and forth some. I hope to get to meet him and hear him in person. He has definitly become mt banjo hero.

We're going back to Clifftop this year. Anyone else going?

Has the mudcat gathered any more two finger pickers?

Chip A.


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: BanjoRay
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 12:39 PM

Hi Chip A - it's great you went to Clifftop and enjoyed it. I'm definitely going again this year - I'll be going for the previous weekend as well. In theory it's a dance weekend, but it'll just turn it all into 10 days of picking. I'll be the brit banjo player camped with Debby McLatchy and friends at Camp America, probably beyond the baketball court.

Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: BS: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: chip a
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 03:23 PM

Banjo Ray..........A brit? Were you at Mt Airy? I played a minute or two with a brit banjo picker up in the barn. Was that you? I was returning a chair! Well, in any case, I hope we see you at Clifftop.

Chip


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Subject: RE: TWO FINGER BANJO
From: GUEST,Dave Cannon
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 11:47 AM

2 finger thumb lead is a primary traditional style of Eastern TN and Western NC. There are still very mature men who play this style there. I would suggest you look up CD's by Will Keys. He has passed away but his recordings are available.


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