Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

My first attempt at Minstrel banjo playing. I clearly don't have a traditional instrument and I am finding it difficult to keep the strings in tune!

I am looking for advice on technique. I think I see people using their thumb and finger to strike the middle strings, but I can't be so sure two days into playing.

This is the first video I've even made of myself, so thank you for making me safe to do so.

Views: 207

Comment by Rob Morrison on March 23, 2013 at 4:13pm

Valerie.  --You're a natural.  You look competely relaxed and comfortable.  You get the tune and play it musically. Your thumb works just right.  I like the way you dampen the sound with your hand at appropropriate times.  If you're doing anything wrong I missed it.  Congratulations.--Rob

Comment by Valerie Diaz Leroy on March 23, 2013 at 5:46pm

Thanks Rob. The feedback really helps. I should have taken advantage of lessons with Greg Adams at Suwannee Banjo Camp, but I had no idea I would get into this so fast!

Comment by Strumelia on March 23, 2013 at 9:29pm

Very nice Valerie!   Thumbs up!   ;)

Comment by Valerie Diaz Leroy on March 24, 2013 at 6:36am

Thanks-I'm trying. I was listening to your video and love the sound of your banjo. 

Comment by Strumelia on March 24, 2013 at 6:55am

Well if you like my 'sound' Valerie, you may want to try the effect of hitting the banjo skin on some of the note downbeats, coming down on the head with your hand when striking a note.  This is a small thing that can give a distinctive strength and percussive effect that I really like myself. I'm suspecting you don't do this because you started out with bluegrass style rather than clawhammer style.

That banjo I have with the white formica neck overlay in my vid is really a clawhammer style banjo, not a minstrel banjo, but I've been using it as a substitute with nylgut strings and tuned a bit low... until my 'real' minstrel banjo comes, which will (hopefully) be soon.   :)

Comment by Valerie Diaz Leroy on March 24, 2013 at 7:37am

You are right, I am not really aware of specific clawhammer techniques. Most of what I play is is learned from a book/DVD. I don't have any human feed back. Sometimes I hit the head, but it is unintentional. Now I know to be aware of it's affect. Thank you.

I have ordered a claawhammer style banjo, but it will be a while until that comes in. So, I will do what I can with the tinny sound. I'm already having a lot of fun.

Comment by Nicholas A Bechtel on March 24, 2013 at 10:09am

Hey Valerie, welcome to the group! While getting my money together for my first Minstrel style banjo, I practiced on my Deering open back  The string spacing is much more closer together than will be on a minstrel style banjo. It will be easier on your minstrel banjo. You sound great and seem to already have a good grasp on the feel of playing this instrument. Keep on chipp'n away, good stuff!

Comment by Valerie Diaz Leroy on March 24, 2013 at 3:19pm

Thanks Nicholas. It's nice to be here. I every time I log on I think, "I need a minstrel banjo." Unfortunately, you may have to suffer through a few more videos with the steel strings!

Comment by Tim Twiss on March 24, 2013 at 6:09pm

Valerie, you should go back and see some of Lucas Bowman's videos. He did most of his early stuff on a steel string, and then got a Minstrel. It should suffice as inspiration.

Comment by Valerie Diaz Leroy on March 24, 2013 at 7:09pm

Thanks, Tim. I'll do that. 

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