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Help: Two finger banjo playing

wilco 01 Oct 03 - 11:02 AM
Gern 01 Oct 03 - 11:43 AM
BanjoRay 01 Oct 03 - 11:44 AM
Mark Ross 01 Oct 03 - 12:02 PM
GUEST,Chip Arnold 01 Oct 03 - 01:13 PM
Mark Clark 01 Oct 03 - 01:49 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 01 Oct 03 - 03:54 PM
BanjoRay 01 Oct 03 - 05:28 PM
Burke 01 Oct 03 - 06:25 PM
Joybell 01 Oct 03 - 07:59 PM
DonMeixner 01 Oct 03 - 08:27 PM
smokeyjoe 01 Oct 03 - 08:50 PM
GUEST,banjoman 02 Oct 03 - 06:53 AM
Mark Clark 02 Oct 03 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,Ole Bull 02 Oct 03 - 11:44 AM
Steve Latimer 02 Oct 03 - 11:56 AM
GUEST,Chip A. 02 Oct 03 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,Don 02 Oct 03 - 03:00 PM
GUEST,Songster Bob 03 Oct 03 - 03:02 AM
BanjoRay 03 Oct 03 - 07:39 AM
Gurney 03 Oct 03 - 07:49 AM
GUEST,Chip 03 Oct 03 - 09:15 AM
Roger the Skiffler 03 Oct 03 - 09:31 AM
BanjoRay 03 Oct 03 - 10:00 AM
The Fooles Troupe 03 Oct 03 - 10:05 AM
wilco 06 Oct 03 - 12:36 PM
The Sandman 11 Oct 09 - 04:05 PM
The Sandman 02 Dec 10 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,kendall 02 Dec 10 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,More than 3 chords is jazz. 19 Jan 11 - 07:32 AM
The Sandman 19 Jan 11 - 07:36 AM
GUEST,Hunter Robertson 26 Jan 11 - 08:53 AM
The Sandman 26 Jan 11 - 10:16 AM
GUEST,Hunter Robertson 26 Jan 11 - 06:26 PM
The Sandman 26 Jan 11 - 07:00 PM
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Subject: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: wilco
Date: 01 Oct 03 - 11:02 AM

Down here, in SE Tennessee (USA), everyone plays either bluegrass or clawhammer. I taught myself to play using either two fingers or using thumb and middle finger. How common is this style. Apparently, it was more common prior to Scruggs style? Why is it less popular now? Thanks!!!!!


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: Gern
Date: 01 Oct 03 - 11:43 AM

To my knowledge, Yes it was once quite popular. The impression that Scruggs' style was more powerful, etc, kinda pushed it off the map. But it has its place, and I would think you'd find some who appreciated it in SE Tenn. Anywhere close to Norris? Stringbean, one of my all time favorites, usually played with 2 fingers. Wade Mainer often did and does the same. So many bluegrassers are conformist, to the point of reactionary, about technique, so that bluegrass stages don't always offer the diversity of oldtime music. But there is plenty of tradition behind what you're doing.


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: BanjoRay
Date: 01 Oct 03 - 11:44 AM

There still a few well respected players who use the two finger style, like Marvin Gaster, Will Keys, Tom Sauber, and a few more whose names don't spring instantly to mind. Unfortunately you seem to have to be a bluegrasser or clawhammerer to achieve any monetary success these days (and there's very little of that for ANY banjo players.)
Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: Mark Ross
Date: 01 Oct 03 - 12:02 PM

Roscoe Holcomb played with thumb & index finger. The index just played the 1st string while the thumb played the other four, keeping time and alternating like on the guitar. In fact he played the guitar the same way.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: GUEST,Chip Arnold
Date: 01 Oct 03 - 01:13 PM

I've been picking 2-finger style for a long time. You can listen to a couple of mp3's at Banjo Newsletter's site. Look for Wearing of the Green & Dead March in the mp3 archive.
http://www.banjonews.com/index.html

My all time favorite 2-finger picker is Will Keys. Follow the link at his site to his Kennedy Center performance. Will is from E. Tn. and is an absolute master of the style.
http://home.att.net/~wk2finger/index.html

There has been a discussion of various finger styles, including 2-finger, at banjo-l recently.

N. Ga., E. Tn., & W. N.C. have a long tradition of 2-finger picking.
Get hold of a copy of Art Rosenbaum's "Old Time Mountain Banjo" instruction book for an excellent overview of these styles. Amazon.com still had some of these recently.

Chip Arnold


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: Mark Clark
Date: 01 Oct 03 - 01:49 PM

Another wonderful player in the two-finger style is Richard Hood of the Bristol Brothers. I'm sure you can buy their CDs through Camsco.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 01 Oct 03 - 03:54 PM

Earl Scruggs really made the saying "three's a crowd" not applicable in this sense.

He all but obsoleted the two finder style.


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: BanjoRay
Date: 01 Oct 03 - 05:28 PM

If you have difficulty using Chip Arnold's link to Will Keys, try this one: Will Keys
Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: Burke
Date: 01 Oct 03 - 06:25 PM

Richard Hood of the Bristol Brothers indicated in a concert last week that the style is concentrated in Eastern Tenn. He also said it's dying as a style.


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: Joybell
Date: 01 Oct 03 - 07:59 PM

My American born Husband taught me this style and I find it perfect as accompaniment for singing. It seems to be less intrusive when you are singing and it's easy.


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: DonMeixner
Date: 01 Oct 03 - 08:27 PM

What great site The Millenium Stage, watching the Battlefield Band in concert just now.

Don


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: smokeyjoe
Date: 01 Oct 03 - 08:50 PM

Dock Boggs, one of my favorites, played in the 2 finger style as well. Scruggs style is awesome (I guess you might say he was the Eddie Van Halen of the banjo) but I'm more inclined to claw, and 2 or 3 finger style. To me, it seems to lend itself better to accompanying a solo singer.


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: GUEST,banjoman
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 06:53 AM

I learnt to play the banjo many years ago mainly by picking out tunes with my thumb. Once I knew a few cords, I still used the thumd to hold the tune and my first finger to play the cord. Sounds a bit awkward, but thats the way I play. I use an old time style Gold Tone to accompany singing and a Vega/Martin bluegrass (set up to sound a bit more mellow than usual) in the band.
I also taught my wife to play this style, and she is now a pretty good player, although she is also able to use a couple more fingers.
Good luck whatever style you play - just keep pickin'


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: Mark Clark
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 11:04 AM

Don, Were you referring to the Kennedy Center Multimedia Archive?

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: GUEST,Ole Bull
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 11:44 AM

The "orginal" banjo style, called stroke style or minstrel style, published in the 1850's is thumb and forefinger only. It has been revived by those with this historical interest.


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 11:56 AM

Don Reno is a two finger player. He is considered one of the Masters.


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: GUEST,Chip A.
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 12:47 PM

Actually, Steve, 2-finger refers to one finger plus thumb. Reno, Scruggs and bluegrassers in general are 3-finger pickers. Two fingers plus thumb.
Stroke or minstral style is a down picking style. 2-finger and 3-finger are up picking styles.
Chip


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: GUEST,Don
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 03:00 PM

Yes I was Mark, I also watched Tom Paxton and Mustards Retreat last night as well.
I tried watching some others but they wouldn't load for some reason.
I'll keep trying.

The well at this site is so deep I'll be enjoying it for sometime to come.

Don


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: GUEST,Songster Bob
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 03:02 AM

There are really two two-finger styles -- finger leading or thumb leading. Rosco Holcomb played thumb style, as did a lot of other Kentucky players. Bascom Lamar Lunsford, Pete Seeger*, Rufus Crisp, Doc Watson, and many others do the finger leading style.

Thumb-lead style is TITI, with the I playing -- almost exclusively -- the first string, and the thumb playing the other four. Typically, the thumb alternates from melody string to fifth string, but doesn't always.

Index-lead style is I / IT, with that / indicating either a pause or another note (hammer-on, pull-off, or "drop-thumb" note, where the thumb plays an interior string). The second Index note can be a single note or a chord, and can be played either plucking up or brushing (stroking) down. On the last count, the thumb plays the 5th string. The basic pattern is the same rhythm as the clawhammer / frailing / knocking style that derived from the Minstrel style. The rhythm can be thought of through the mnemonic "bum-titty / bum-titty / bum-titty."

I like both styles, of course, and see the relationship of the thumb-lead style to one of Scruggs' patterns (called the alternating pattern). Think TITM/TITM, where you're simply adding the second string to the mix. Really, the unique sound of each technique offers another sound to use, so that all the tunes don't sound alike**.


Bob Clayton


* Pete added the middle finger on the brush of the chord, but some of his mentors used the same finger for the melody and the chord.

** You know how to tell banjo tunes apart, don't you?




... By their titles.


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: BanjoRay
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 07:39 AM

TTTI/TTTI for thumb lead doesn't sound right to me - how do you get the thumb back up so quickly to play the second note? Shouldn't it be TITI/TITI? Please tell why I've got it wrong, if I have. I'd really like to understand thumb lead playing.
Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: Gurney
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 07:49 AM

I thought this was an invitation, but then I realised it is only the English who use two fingers for that particular gesture...
Just kidding.


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: GUEST,Chip
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 09:15 AM

Ray,
T I T I T I T I .....and so on. Thumb lead makes it difficult to get melody notes on the 1st string. You can reach higher on the 2nd string to get a thumb note or, as some do, you can get it by reaching the thumb up to the 1st string.
Tom Sauber switches between thumb and index lead. Pete Steele did this too.
Index lead allows you to comfortably use your index (lead finger) on strings 1,2,3 & 4. Your thumb likewise can easily reach strings 5,4,3&2. Having your index, which is going to be picking the melody notes, comfortable on 1,2,3 & 4 opens up all sorts of possibilities. You can learn to get your thumb onto the 1st when needed and your index on the 5th as well.
The sequence with drop thumb is I T I T I T I T. As with any style, you can add left hand devices where you need them.
Hope I haven't confused the issue!
Chip A.


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 09:31 AM

I note Max's new experimental Weblinks at the bottom of this are to "Endangered wildlife"!

RtS
(Can you get "Save the 2-fingered banjo-players" T-shirts?)


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: BanjoRay
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 10:00 AM

Thanks Chip - that's cleared it up a lot.
Cheers
Ray (an inveterate clawhammerer)


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 10:05 AM

The CNNN show on ABC (oz) had a running theme on Bush visiting OZ last night

Things like the PrezbedMobile, which allowed him to be taken off the plane and driven to his hotel while still asleep...

They had a greeting sign for "W" - take both hands and make the English rude V sign, placing so they touch - you get a "W"

Robin


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: wilco
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 12:36 PM

Are there any tutorial videos for those of us who want to play these styles. I play either with two fingers (which is tough on the nails) or with a thumb (with a pick) and an upstroke on the middle finger. I just can,t keep up with the bluegrass pickers though.

Thanks for great info!!!!

Wilco in Tennessee


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Oct 09 - 04:05 PM

refresh.


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Dec 10 - 03:10 PM

REFRESH


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Subject: RE: help: Two finger banjo playing
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 02 Dec 10 - 03:36 PM

Rick Lee also plays this style.


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Subject: RE: Help: Two finger banjo playing
From: GUEST,More than 3 chords is jazz.
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 07:32 AM

Nothing against Scruggs and the buckets full of Scruggs wannabees out there, but you know, it's not all about who can play the fastest. Simplicity (in a not complicating it for the sake of it), sincerity and soul also matter. Personally I could listen to the likes of David Eugene Edwards all day long, but a speed demon banjo ninja wears thin after a short while. Don't ya think?


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Subject: RE: Help: Two finger banjo playing
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 07:36 AM

yes,guest 3 chords,too bloody right, music [imo]should be about expression, it should not be about showing off who can play at 130 miles per hour.


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Subject: RE: Help: Two finger banjo playing
From: GUEST,Hunter Robertson
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 08:53 AM

Here's a quick and dirty video I made last year to show thumb-lead 2-finger picking:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSmDuEce6O4

Only 7 years or so after Wilco asked...

Hunter


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Subject: RE: Help: Two finger banjo playing
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 10:16 AM

thanks Hunter, Its also possible to do the bum ditty, but using thumb to pick melody instead of index down, i have been forced to do this as my index fingernail keeps breaking, so thumb plays melody, index brushes, thumb catches 5 string on ty


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Subject: RE: Help: Two finger banjo playing
From: GUEST,Hunter Robertson
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 06:26 PM

Very true Good Soldier. There are all kinds of possibilities, that video's not meant to show anything except some basics and something along the line of what I think Shelton was doing on Darlin' Cora. The line between thumb and index lead gets crossed all the time as others have pointed out too. I usually end up drifting into 3-finger picking myself.

Hunter


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Subject: RE: Help: Two finger banjo playing
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Jan 11 - 07:00 PM

its a great video Hunter thanks very much, I enjoyed it


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