Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Mr. Twiss requested a tutorial...here's how I do it.

Views: 234

Comment by Rob MacKillop on September 3, 2010 at 9:25am
Great to hear your voice, Marc.

Sounds good. I use my thumb...
Comment by Tim Twiss on September 3, 2010 at 11:05am
How much of the chord tones should you hear relative to the percussion?
Comment by Trapdoor2 on September 3, 2010 at 12:21pm
I like to hear at least some of the chord-tones. There is a "sweet spot". For me, it is almost directly on top of the bridge...maybe fading a bit towards the nut so that you are whacking a bit more string. Problem is, it is a narrow spot and hitting it every time is difficult. OTOH, it is a very percussive technique so I don't really worry much about producing a lot of tonality. On my banjo, if I hit just behind the bridge (and pretty hard) I can get the 4th string to buzz like a mad hornet.

BTW, if you're wearing a thimble...you can give the bridge a helluva whack and it has a different, sharper sound to it. The few times I've actually knocked the bridge down (SNAP!), I did it with a thimble on.

I used to worry a lot about actually breaking the bridge but never have.

I guess I ought to put up a video of "New York March" too. Maybe tonight if the stars are properly aligned...
Comment by Sylvia on September 3, 2010 at 12:29pm
Hi Marc, Found the tutorial interesting and have been trying all three ways mentioned..... leaning a little bit towards the side of the hand method though.
Comment by Tim Twiss on September 3, 2010 at 12:39pm
Thanks Marc. New York March caused me to check this out. I might give it a go tonight also. I've got about 8 tunes left in the Green Book, all fingerstyle. Will see if the fretless holds up to the challenge.
Comment by Trapdoor2 on September 3, 2010 at 12:46pm
Hi Sylvia,

I'm glad you're trying out different methods. As I say in the tutorial...this is simply the way I do it. For me, I think the little-finger hasn't enough mass to do much and damps out the sound somehow. The actual side of my palm is too fleshy to rap out anything at all. Rob mentions he uses his thumb...which also works fine. The sound I want is "bass-drum"...but with enough volume to balance out those "trumpet" chords which precede it.

So...next question: What other tunes use "Drum Chords"? I haven't take the time to go looking for them.
Comment by Tim Twiss on September 3, 2010 at 1:12pm
Seems most like funk bass technique, except you don't have near the response on the banjo. Striking and removing as fast as possible to set the string in motion seems to be the idea. Almost a "bounce".


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