Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Recently, I have been trying all kinds of new things, especially since I got my Fretted Minstrel. But, to back the truck up a bit, I am revisiting the Stroke Stuff. I never used a Thimble before....a little ignorance, and a little stubborness, but recently I pulled out my Hooks Thimble and gave it a good solid try. The result is astonishing. The tone clarity and projection is unreal. 

Now...I do have a story behind my reluctance to use use thimbles. I was like many guys, having never actually seen a Minstrel banjo player. I got the Flesher Book and an instrument and went at it. I made reasonable progress, but then went to AEBG I.It was there that I could see it done and hear it played right. What I did NOT know was the key players used thimbles. They were so hidden in the curve of the hand that they went undetected by me. Well, I returned to Michigan determined to get that "sound" I worked and worked, re-reading the tutors and trying to make that attack work. I succeeded after much effort, filing my nails ALL THE WAY DOWN, and playing the Converse Combinations/Exercises endlessly. 

But, this revelation is mind blowing. Sorry I';m behind...but no regrets. Using the thimble will take a little adjusting, but all the technique I have in place is accessible and useful. In fact, it is a bit overpowering sometimes, and I can understand the need and use for them in the old days of zero sound amplification. I put up a video of "Ethiopian Cracovienne" to mark the start of the venture. I'll check back in a few months when I get this down.

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Strumelia said:

..to be honest, it's louder and sharper sounding than i normally like.

Yeah....me too but I tribute some of that to hearing aids. Think (if my wife can stand the increased volume) that I'll continue on trial.

I am finding improvement re: my intonation. The sharp attack allows you to discern the pitch immediately.

ah yes....noticed that...now to use it.

Timothy Twiss said:

I am finding improvement re: my intonation. The sharp attack allows you to discern the pitch immediately.

Well, I played a full set at a gig last night. The result was amazing. I had no PA with me, but the instrument cut and carried. It gave me confidence that all was coming thru...even the low notes. It rang out like a shot. I'll be certain to have extras around.

The idea in the beginning of my banjo playing was to be free.....of plugging in a guitar, keeping track of gear blah blah. That included picks. But, I find that if I let my playing lapse for any length of time, I lost that "touch" that helped me play strong without a thimble, and I was back to that same flacid sound we all speak of. The thimble is a constant......it will be the same every time. I just have to keep track of my stuff and not lose them,

Sorry, off topic but didn't know where else to post:  The Latest Activity Feed on the Main page is not displaying again, since yesterday.  This makes it hard to know when new posts or new content are added on the site (aside from getting standard notifications that a new comment has been made on your own  thread/video..which you are automatically 'subscribed' to).  There's way less action and fun without the Latest Activity feed.  Just hoping- has a support ticket been filed?

It's been coming and going as of late a bit.

In other news, Joel got back to me and will be making me a shorter thimble to try out which is nice :)

Maybe Joel needs a 'thimble-maker's form'...  like those adjustable dress forms that dressmakers use where they can set the form to the person's measurements to ensure a good fit.  A 'finger form' that will adjust to reflect the length and width of a client's finger...lol   ;D

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