Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I have been working on a couple of Converse tunes, ‘Cane Bake Reel and ‘Original Essence of Old Virginny’ and have noticed the extensive use of thumb work called for.   It almost seems as though the Converse thumb method (or whatever it’s called) is a different RH style altogether, kind of like drop-thumbing on steroids.   Among other of his comments regarding this style, Weidlich says that the thumb is ‘dominantly used on the descending notes of the phrase (‘a more “natural” physiological usage).’  I take this to mean that, after practice, this is an easier playing technique than the ordinary stroke style which places more emphasis on the index finger.  Is this true?  And if so, can it be employed effectively in other tunes such as those found in Briggs, Buckley and elsewhere? 

 Thanks for any advice.

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Once I got the hang of using the thumb like a lil catapult it made a bunch of tunes more accessible. It seems really weird at first. I got thru most of yellow book once I had it click.

I some times replace a hammer stroke with a thumbed note or vice versa.

Thanks Chris.The catapult image is very helpful, I'll keep working on it.

I was introduced to the thumb technique when I was trying to play Coon Hunt Walkaround and making a mess of it. It took a while to get used to it, but in the end it made the tune much more accessible. I use my thumb more often now and it makes things easier on a lot of tunes.

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