Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo


My name is Zak and I am trying to learn the clawhammer style of banjo. Ive been developing for the past year and cannot seem to conceptualize the technique of using my thumb to pluck the other strings while I roll along . Does anybody have some tips they might share with me on this? Thanks much.

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It's interesting. I was just playing Cluck Old Hen, on my fretless, in Double G. It sounds a bit different than in the Double C, on my fretted. You get used to what a piece sounds like on steel strings; there is an adjustment when hearing it on Nylguts. I will have to learn to fine tune. ...that is the journey:-)  Kitchen Girl will be interesting to learn in minstrel style...

Strumelia said:

I would think Kitchen Girl might make a good tune to try and play in minstrel style too.

Hi Zac, I feel like I am always talking about this Frank Converse fella, but...

In his "Analytical Banjo Method" he wrote out some of the greatest exercises for banjo style--ever.

You will not find terms like "double thumbing" or "drop thumbing" in it because those are relatively recent inventions.  What I mean is that movements like the "combination" that you will learn from the ABM  just are and are not really taught as advanced.

I think that the modern method of "here is the clawhammer movement, now repeat it a million times" is a disservice to the student.  The various banjo style movements should be taught from the very start.

That is the good news.  The bad news is that they are in standard notation and by tabbing them out they would loose all that they teach.

Back to the good news, there are really only a few notes that you will need to know to play them.  The difficult part is note duration and rhythm.  If you read tab, then you already most of the way there.

Analytical Banjo Method available free from www.banjothimble.com or www.timtwiss.com

"Banjo Style" exercises start on page 90, but read all of the text it is worth it.  The book is also graded, so it is also worth while to start from the top and learn guitar style working through all of the exercises.

Conversely, you can use his "Green" 65 book for straight stroke style.  Learn the basics then start on the ABM.

Umm, I mean Zak with a k... Sorry

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