Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I thought it might be fun to do a little introduction to Guitar Style of play. Even though Stroke is the most discussed version of play here, both styles were common and we might want to look at it. Does anyone use this....and do you integrate it into your playing?

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Try this one, Billy Morris's Jig from the Buckley 1868. It has very simple left hand placement, and a repetitive right hand. The x=thumb, i=1st finger, and m=middle finger. Just like playing a guitar. The arpeggios just roll right off.

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Sadly though, I've never palyed a guitar.

Well come on in..the water is fine

Oh I'm looking at it, but heck I'm just starting to get used to stroke style!

It looks simple enough.  I may give it a shot and see how it goes.

As I think I've said, I play almost exclusively guitar-style.  I have the reverse problem to Lee; I'd love to have stroke, but it's just too easy to revert, and hard to take the time to learn a whole new set of hand movements.  To those who are trying, push on!

Tim should chime in about this but....as a trained classical guitar player, it is probably very easy for him to utilize guitar style, too.   He was, at one time, in the same boat as Christopher.  Tim, how difficult was it for you to become comfortable with the stroke style?  Any tips for Christopher?

I told this before I believe. It felt very difficult and wanted to give it up. I sat there for a few weeks, just letting the first finger drop on the strings, trying to make it feel natural. It seemed so easy to have that fretless banjo and just transfer my fingerstyle noodling to it. But I decided to try and see what it was all about. Really glad I drove through the period of discomfort.

Sure, why not?

Usually not however.

I know Dan'l asked Tim specifically, but as a lutenist and guitarist, I'd agree with Tim.  Historically speaking it was an open (and contested) question even among professional European guitarists at the time, playing in the style that would come to be called "classical guitar".  If I remember correctly, J. K. Mertz said yes, Ferdinando Carulli said no.  It appears to have been a matter of personal (or teacher) preference until Andres Segovia took over as arbiter of technic (and General Overlord) of classical guitar style around 1930.

Chris.

Dan'l wrote...

Frank Converse (and Tim Twiss) say no.

Historically speaking… The hundred(s?) of other banjo instruction books for guitar style say yes.  From S. Swaim Stewart, Thomas Armstrong and George Lansing, etc. etc, to Vess Ossman and Fred Van Eps (can be seen in the films of them), all have you resting the little finger on the head.

I know how you feel about "tutors"-- but at a certain point (when there was a huge circulation of hundreds of "tutors" by known famous professional banjoists and teachers) one has to see that this method of learning banjo had some following. 

D. E. Hartnett invented an apparatus he called a "Tone Bar" that allowed you to anchor while not touching the head.  Fred Bacon was a big endorser of these.  

I recently bought one and installed it on my "classic banjo" and I really like it.

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