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8 Essential Steps to Clawhammer Banjo
a Brainjo Production
 
videos at clawhammerbanjo.net/8steps
 
 

 

clawhammerbanjo.net
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About this Book
 

The following book is an accompaniment to the Clawhammer Banjo in 8
Essential Steps video series. You may access all the videos in one playlist at
clawhammerbanjo.net/8steps.
If you enjoyed this series of instruction and want to continue on your journey
of clawhammer banjo mastery, check out the Breakthrough Banjo course at
breakthroughbanjo.com.
The course is based on the Brainjo Method of instruction, the first teaching
system to incorporate the science of learning and neuroplasticity and
specifically target the adult learner.
Learn more about the Brainjo Method at aboutbrainjo.com.

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Table of Contents

Lesson 1: The Basic Motion………………….…..………….3
Lesson 2: The Thumb Rest………………………...………...11
Lesson 3: Striking Single Strings……….…………...……...11
Lesson 4: Ringing the Fifth…………….…...……....……...16
Lesson 5: Basic Fretting & Picking Patterns ..……...…....22
Lesson 6: Hammering On…………….……..........………...25
Lesson 7: Pluck Off……….………………………..………....31
Lesson 8: Sliding into Home…….………………....……….35

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to try to do so by plucking up with our fingers. this may seem like an odd approach to playing.Lesson 1: The Basic Motion    Welcome to the first lesson in the "8 Essential Steps to Clawhammer Banjo" lesson series. as you move through this video. if you have any questions or comments. And surely this felt awkward at first. And here there are two points that I want you to remember. This is not because the motion is particularly difficult. but also because it's the thing that oftentimes leads to the most frustration for folks who are trying to learn it. if you've ever played a stringed instrument before. what they also probably realized was that using this technique opened up a world of musical. and then you hammer down on the strings. And. which is the movement of the picking hand. So I want to make sure that you end up getting started off on the right foot. or even if you haven't. For most of you. many years ago. And. possibility that you just can't get using the up picking method. particularly when we're trying to strike individual strings. Now. or the picking hand. So the first thing that I want you to do is start to get comfortable just with the shape that your hand should be in when you're playing clawhammer. better yet. You basically put your hand into a claw-like shape.net 4 . The Shape of the Picking Hand In some respects. that you don't end up developing a technique that will make it difficult for you to progress or that will be really hard to unlearn later. some brave and ingenious soul. I’ll be checking often and am happy to answer any questions you may have. Fortunately. clawhammerbanjo. decided that he or she would instead try to strike the individual strings not by picking upwards. In this first installment. as it will feel to you. who was likely playing a banjo-like instrument. This makes sense because we're able to make very precise movements with our fingers. this is going to be your right hand. and particularly rhythmic.   I'm covering this first not just because it's what imparts this style with its defining sound. or any of the videos. everything that you need to know about the right hand. but by striking down with the back of their nail towards the ground. I'm going to be covering what is the distinguishing feature of this style of playing. please feel free to leave them in the comments section. in clawhammer banjo is in the name itself. but over time that person must've realized that you could teach yourself to become just as accurate at hitting individual strings with the downpicking motion as you can by up picking. It's our natural inclination. or to think about. but rather because folks get the wrong impression or idea about what it should be. probably in the continent of Africa.

If I were to try to bring it into a more claw-like posture. or “rapping banjo”. so my index finger really isn't doing anything. for this reason. Now you'll notice when I play my index finger actually sticks out a little bit. So the first thing is to make sure your hand is nice and relaxed. If they feel equally clawhammerbanjo. just go with that. or you can also move it up and down. about fifty percent use the middle finger. You can use your index finger.a technique many players use in their playing -. clawhammer is also referred to as “knocking banjo”. Most of time. as you would if you’re shaking off some water from your fingers. or the up and down movement of the hand like you’re knocking on a door. I think some people get the idea that the strings are set in motion by keeping a very rigid hand through the striking motion. And the hammering motion is the motion you’ll be using to strike individual strings. But the reason it's out there is because that's simply the most relaxed position for my hand. In essence here the striking finger is really just along for the ride as it moves through the string. and if one feels more comfortable than the other. generally speaking. just because that’s what I find more comfortable. and mindful of the position where it feels the most relaxed. and muscle tension in the hand with clawhammer banjo is going to lead to a lot of pain and frustration.One is that the hand should be very relaxed. clawhammer banjo players are divided equally in these camps. If you’re strumming across multiple strings -. And. and I don't want muscle tension. the reality is the strings are set in motion not from a rigid hand. You can either move it side to side. I use my middle finger. Personally. Now. And you can think of the wrist as having two primary degrees of freedom. but from the momentum of the hand that's generated by the movement at the wrist. So the point here is not that you should stick out your index finger like I do. so in clawhammer banjo almost all of the movement you’ll be making is going be at the wrist.then you’ll be moving your wrist in the side to side motion. So about fifty percent use the index finger. the movement you’ll be making is the hammering motion. it would introduce tension into my hand. Yet. Sometimes.net 5 . or you can use your middle finger. as you would when you’re knocking on a door. And what I’d recommend you do when you’re first starting out is just experiment with using the middle or the index finger. The Hammer and the Strum Okay. but that you should be mindful of how your hand feels. the question that inevitably arises at this point is: “what finger should I use to strike the strings with?” And here there are really two viable options. Muscle tension in general is the enemy of music. I'm actually striking the strings with my middle finger. and about two percent use another appendage.

If you don’t just strike the first string. if you hit others. I think that any time you’re learning a totally new technique or skill. The first string is the one that’s closest to the floor. And one of the things I want you to experiment with as you do this is how much force. the hammer and the strum. don’t worry too much about accuracy here. I just want you to get the basic side to side motion down as you strike the strings. whether or not you hit two. And the purpose of these two exercises is to allow you to get familiar with the two basic motions. Key Points from Video One 1. either in an up and down. then maybe just choose your fate with a coin toss. Again. so those are the two exercises I want you to practice. or equally awkward. You’ll probably be surprised at how little effort you have to exert to actually make a sound. that about fifteen to twenty minutes a day of dedicated and focused practice on it is really all you need to make progress. which is more likely.net 6 . it actually takes to get a sound out of the string. or hammering. And just practice striking down in a hammering motion. clawhammerbanjo. If you miss. Just practice getting the basic idea of the hammering motion down. you’ve got it under your belt. Don’t worry here about being accurate. The motion picking hand is the defining feature of clawhammer banjo. 3. 2. then you’ll be ready to move on to the second video. it doesn’t matter.comfortable. which is the side to side movement. until you feel comfortable with it. The second exercise that I want you do is to just practice the strumming technique with the hand. Okay. Virtually all of the movement of the picking hand occurs at the wrist. or three. Choose whether to use your index or middle finger as your primary striking finger based on what feels most comfortable. And if you can start out with a light touch from the beginning. So the first one we’ll start with is the hammer motion. it doesn’t matter. and then once you feel like you’ve got it down. or in a side to side motion. Two Exercises So I’m gonna leave you with two exercises that I want you to get comfortable with before you move on to the next lesson. do that. So all I want you to do here is just practice the hammer motion on the first string. then it’ll make your life a lot easier down the road with this style. or four strings when you strum. motion. or how little force. the fifth is the one closest to you. So.

5. clawhammerbanjo.net 7 . the side to side motion is the one you’ll use to strum across multiple strings. Practice the two exercises and get comfortable with them before moving to video 2.4. The hammering motion is the one you’ll use to strike individual strings.

but. In the first lesson in this series. In that lesson. Here’s how your hand should look at the end of the initial clawhammer movement. the flesh of your thumb comes to rest against the fifth string at the end of that movement. One of the signature features of the five string banjo is the short fifth string itself. Again. That’s what you’ll be using to strike the individual strings like this. in addition. And perhaps the single most important thing for you to do when you’re playing this style of music is to make sure you that you always keep that clawhammer motion going. So what’s the thumb rest? Each time you make the clawhammer motion with your wrist.net 8 . we also need to make sure we’re always keeping this fifth string ringing as well. or knocking motion. THE THUMB REST So in today’s lesson I’m going to be covering what I refer to as the thumb rest. which is the signature feature of this style of playing. Hopefully you’ve been practicing both of those and you’ve gotten reasonably comfortable with them and are ready to move on to this lesson. And the main movement is an up and down. A drone note is simply a note that is continuously sounded in the background in a piece of music. The second movement you’ll make is a side to side movement of the wrist. The easiest way to make sure you do this is to keep the thumb extended as you play. notice that the flesh of the thumb is pressed against the fifth string: clawhammerbanjo. Let’s briefly review what I covered in the first lesson in this series. or the side to side strum. that fifth string functions as a drone note. which is what you use to strum across multiple strings. I mentioned that most of the movement that you’ll be making with your picking hand in clawhammer banjo is going to be at your wrist. In this lesson. I’m going to share with you what I think is the secret to making sure you’re always able to do just that. and most of the time in five string banjo playing.Lesson 2: The Thumb Rest    Welcome to the second lesson in the eight steps to clawhammer banjo video series. whether it’s the up and down hammer motion. that’s how. I mentioned earlier that it’s important to always keeping our clawhammer motion going with our picking hand. I introduced you to the basic clawhammer motion of the picking hand. So how do we accomplish both those tasks? With the thumb rest.

What often happens to beginners is they inadvertently break up the motion into three steps. making sure that the flesh of your thumb comes pressed up against the fifth string at the end of each movement. And as I said before. PREPARING FOR LESSON 3 So what I want you to do before the next lesson is to practice the thumb rest with both movements of the picking hand.net 9 . Once you get a little bit comfortable doing that. clawhammerbanjo. This ends up making it hard for them to develop speed. and then they’ll try to find the fifth string with the thumb. It’s the glue that maintains the clawhammer stroke as an efficient and compact. Fortunately. keeping a steady rhythm is vital to the sound of clawhammer banjo. And I think it’s this inadvertent failure to develop or learn the thumb rest that probably serves as the biggest impediment most folks face when learning clawhammer banjo. that’s not going to happen to you. They’ll strike with picking finger. I want you to practice both of these along with the metronome. and then move back to the starting position. I think the thumb rest is really the key to making sure you maintain a continuous and fluid motion with your picking hand. two-step.As I said earlier. motion. and hard to maintain a steady rhythm throughout their playing.

BUILDING THE FOUNDATION I understand that playing along with the metronome like this may seem a little bit tedious. which is 80 BPM. And I also said in the introductory video that a little bit of patience in the beginning as you’re learning clawhammer banjo is really going to pay off in the long run. where the flesh of the thumb comes to rest against the fifth string at the end of the striking motion. A smooth and steady clawhammer picking motion is critical for building speed and a solid rhythm 2. 3. which it most certainly will. but as I mentioned before. then along with the metronome. and practice both the hammer and the strum along with that one. I want you to play one clawhammer stroke for every two clicks of the metronome. I think that getting the thumb rest right is one of the most critical pieces early on when you’re learning this style. move to the next fastest one. clawhammerbanjo. like this: CLICK STRIKE CLICK CLICK STRIKE CLICK CLICK CLICK STRIKE I’ve created a playlist for you (click to access) that has metronome clicks at different settings. is the key to keeping the clawhammer stroke efficient and compact. and continue to do that until you are able to play comfortably and in time using both the hammer and the strum at the 140 BPM metronome setting. Practice the thumb rest with the hammer and the strumming motion. Key Points from Video Two 1. As you get comfortable with it. If you have any questions or comments. Otherwise. So practice the exercises that I’ve covered here. which would be 90 BPM. I’ll see you in lesson three.net 10 .For these exercises. first on their own. Once you’re able to do that. And what I’d recommend you do as you’re practicing the thumb rest is to start with the slowest metronome setting I have on there. please leave them in the video comments section. The thumb rest. you’re all set for the third lesson.

net 11 .4. Once you’re able to perform both motions comfortably and in time with the metronome. you’re ready for video 3! clawhammerbanjo.

if you put in a little bit of focused effort day in clawhammerbanjo. and are all set to proceed with this lesson. In fact.i. the real goal of a practice session is not to improve right then and there. So.net 12 . Now.e. Hopefully you've practiced the exercises from both of those videos. We want to be able to: 1) Pick each string cleanly 2) Pick each string without looking at our hand. which is that at the conclusion of either of those motions.   3 GOALS   So in today's lesson. you're gonna hit the wrong one. Remember that most of the changes that occur in the brain to support any new skill are going to happen when you're sleeping anyhow. please feel free to leave that in the comments section of the video. To recap where we've come from so far. And we have three main goals to accomplish when learning this particular skill. if you have any questions or comments regarding the materials as you work through them. we're going to work on striking the individual strings with our picking finger. but rather to give your brain the signal that you'd like it to change.   FRUSTRATION-FREE FRAILING   So don't get frustrated. you're gonna hit multiple when you're trying to hit one. as you begin to work on the skill of striking single strings with your picking finger. you're undoubtedly going to be inaccurate at first. and to tell it the way in which you’d like it to change . in the first lesson I discussed with you the two primary motions of the picking hand. 3) Modulate the amount of force we use when we strike the string. the thumb should come to rest pressed up against the fifth string. and I'll be happy to answer any questions you have. This happens to everybody when they first get started. which are the up and down hammer motion and the side to side strum. But. I introduced you to the concept of the thumb rest. You're gonna miss the strings. which will allow us to vary the volume of our playing. the skill that you want it to learn. such a thing is indeed possible just with a little bit of dedicated practice. So. it's a bizarre idea to begin with to think that we’d be able to cleanly strike the single strings of the banjo just by moving our hand up and down. In the next lesson.Lesson 3: Striking Single Strings   Welcome to the third installment in the eight essential steps to clawhammer banjo video series. As always. based on what you've done the day prior.

make sure that the flesh of the thumb ends up pressed against the fifth string at the end of the stroke. and then gradually increase the amount of force you give to the string. 2) As you get a little comfortable with this technique. you're going to find that striking the first string is the easiest. It turns out that your brain is actually quite good at monitoring the position of your body. 1) Start out with a very light touch. and once you feel a little bit comfortable with it. And don't forget about the thumb rest.with your picking finger. as opposed to your eyes. you'll probably be surprised at just how little effort it takes to get a sound out of the string. It may seem somewhat counterintuitive. however. simply because it only has one string next to it.and day out. over time as you get a little comfortable with it. and it also will allow you to vary the volume in the playing of any given tune. It's no coincidence that some of the best musicians we've ever known have lost their sight.the first string. start playing out around with not looking at your hand as you're trying to strike the individual strings. but you'll actually be able to develop accuracy more easily and more quickly if you don’t look at your hand than you will if you do. it’ll be time for a few more exercises with the metronome. ultimately we want to be able to strike the strings with our picking hand without having to look at it at all.net 13 . And as you work on striking each individual string. And so starting to do this early on is a great habit to get into. . so we really want to judge how we're doing by what we hear. second string. and have had no choice but to use these better “body to brain” networks to develop their playing. If you're able to develop a light touch from the beginning it's going to make your life a lot easier down the road. just try striking each individual string by itself . Practice doing this for a bit. Remember. So go ahead and practice a bit trying to strike each of the individual strings with your picking hand using the hammer motion. each day you’ll wake up a little bit better. clawhammerbanjo. To begin with. and fourth string . which means they're a lot better suited to playing a musical instrument. And in fact these “body to brain” feedback loops operate a lot faster than the vision to brain loops do. start experimenting some with not looking at your picking finger when you play. without any visual feedback whatsoever. and not by what we see. You don’t have to do this right away. including the position of your hands. third string. The other thing that not looking helps with is in getting you in the habit of using your ears as your primary means of feedback. particularly as you try to develop speed. and I think you'll probably surprise yourself at how quickly you're able to learn something that at first may seem impossible. there are a couple of things that I'd like for you to keep in mind. As I said in an earlier video. Almost certainly. We're playing music. until you ultimately reach the point where you no longer have to at all.

and then as you get comfortable playing along with that continue to move up by 10 BPMs until you can play comfortably at around the 100 or 110 BPM setting. As you may remember. For these exercises. Once again. play one stroke for every two clicks of the metronome:     clawhammerbanjo. I’ve set up a metronome playlist you can use on youtube if you don’t have your own. Here’s the first exercise in tablature. And I once again recommend playing this along with the metronome.net 14 . I don’t think you need to be able to play these any faster than that to get to where you need to be at this point.EXERCISE ONE   In this exercise we’ll strike each string four times. starting with the first string. start with the lower metronome setting of 80 BPM. and then back down towards the first string. progressing up towards the fourth string.

starting with the first.net 15 . and then moving back up to the fourth. but instead after each hammer we're going to throw in a strum:           clawhammerbanjo.EXERCISE TWO   For the second exercise. and then back down to the first:     EXERCISE THREE   For the third exercise. we're going to strike each individual string one time. we're going to follow a pattern similar to exercise one.

But if you stay the course. bit by bit you'll undoubtedly get better each day. where we’ll finally start putting the fifth string into action! clawhammerbanjo. we’ll use a pattern similar to the second exercise. this is will feel awkward at first. And once you’ve made your way through the exercises. but once again insert a strum after every hammer. And in doing so you'll be forming some great habits that.EXERCISE FOUR   For the last exercise.net 16 . rather than limiting what you can do.       So that should be enough to keep you busy until the next installment. you’re all set to move on lesson 4. will ultimately allow you to reach your fullest musical potential. As I said earlier. put in about twenty to thirty minutes a day of focused practice time.

in order for us to continuously ring a drone note. As such. In this lesson. the short fifth string functions as a drone note in clawhammer banjo playing.net 17 . and then move on to practicing it as part of the clawhammer stroke. DOUBLE DUTY If you recall back in lesson two. Practice plucking the fifth string a few times so you get the feel for it. PLUCKING AROUND Before you start picking the fifth string with your thumb in the context of the clawhammer stroke. Now we're going to do that same exact thing. Press the pad of your thumb up against the fifth string and press forward until your thumb rolls off. And. except we're going to do it at the end of the hammer motion. For many of you. have the flesh of your thumb come to rest against the fifth like we've worked on. this lesson is the moment you've been waiting for. which have set the stage for us to learn this all important technique of clawhammer banjo playing.Lesson 4: Ringing the Fifth   Welcome to the fourth installment in the eight essential steps to clawhammer banjo video series. we have to keep ringing the fifth string with our thumb. just strike down on the first string using the hammer motion. Remember that your nail isn't involved at all in sounding the string. for the most part. To do so. Yet. we've building to this moment with the previous lessons. our picking hand must engage in two simultaneous tasks. To recap what we've covered so far. in the first lesson we reviewed the two basic motions of the picking hand. Finally. And on the other hand. On the one hand. meaning that it's a note that's continuously sounded in the background in our music. we're gonna start ringing the fifth string with our thumbs. we learned the all important thumb rest. we have to pick out the melody note on the first through the fourth strings with our picking finger. it's critical that we develop a stroke that's as efficient as possible. which is what we'll end up with at the end of this lesson. in the last lesson. In the second lesson. In many ways. we're going to cover the final piece of the clawhammer stroke: plucking the fifth string with the thumb. which are the hammer and the strum. and then pluck the fifth string with clawhammerbanjo. first just practice plucking the fifth string with your thumb on its own. I mentioned that. we covered the skill of striking the individual strings with our picking finger.

and I'd recommend that you for these exercises you start around the fifty beats per minute mark. which I’d recommend practicing along with the metronome. and once you've got the basic idea of it. Practice both of those strokes a little bit. you're able to sound the fifth string with your thumb as an added bonus with the stroke. Strum across the strings. This means that an eighty beats per minute setting will a good bit faster to you than it did in the other videos. move on to the following exercises. Do this first on first string. and then increase by ten beats per minute until you can play along with the eighty beats per minute setting. your hand is going to naturally recoil a little bit and come back towards the place where you started. have the flesh of your thumb come to rest against the fifth. and then pluck the fifth again just as you've been doing.your thumb like you just did. So I've added some slower settings on the metronome playlist which you can access here. and then work to faster speeds as you get comfortable with it.1 clawhammerbanjo. your hand is basically doing the exact same thing.net 18 . I’m playing one stroke per click of the metronome. So regardless of whether you decide to sound the fifth string or not after the thumb rest. AN ADDED BONUS One of the neat things that happens here is that after you pluck the fifth. In essence. which in tab looks like this: Exercise 1. As always. try it with the strum. we’ve been playing one stroke per two clicks. we'll play a hammer stroke. SET ONE In this first set of exercises. I'd recommend that you start on a very slow metronome setting. In the previous videos. and then follow that with a hammer + thumb stroke. After practicing plucking the fifth string after the hammer stroke for a bit. It should almost feel as if you're squeezing the fifth string towards your palm as you pluck it. THE EXERCISES In the exercises in this video as demonstrated. however.

then the third string.1 Once again. as shown below: Exercise 2. repeat this same pattern on the second string. then the fourth string. and then follow that with a strum + thumb stroke. then the fourth string.Now. as shown below: Exercise 1. as shown below: Exercise 2.3 Exercise 1.net 19 .2 clawhammerbanjo.4 SET TWO For the next set of exercises we're going to again play a hammer on the first string. repeat that same pattern on the second string.2 Exercise 1. then the third string.

we're going to be using the same pattern we did in the second exercise. and again take that pattern and move it from the first string. to the second string. just like we did in the last exercise. fourth string. move to the second string. the hammer followed by a strum thumb. So we're gonna start on the first string. Here's what it looks like in tab: clawhammerbanjo. Here's what it looks like in tab: Exercise 3 SET FOUR In the fourth exercise.net 20 .4 SET THREE For the next exercise. play the hammer and hammer + thumb pattern four times. but then we'll move it sequentially up the strings.Exercise 2. then the third string. then the fourth string. we're going to use the same pattern that we did in the first set of exercises. third string.3 Exercise 2.

3 Exercise 5.2 Exercise 5. like this: Exercise 5. Here's what it looks like in tab: Exercise 5. the third string. and the fourth string.Exercise 4 SET FIVE For the last exercise what we're going to do is follow every hammer stroke with a thumb. and we're gonna start by doing that on the first string.1 Once again just like in the first two sets of exercises. I'd recommend you do that same pattern on the second string.4 clawhammerbanjo.net 21 .

if you're able to make it through those exercises then you've mastered the fundamentals of the clawhammer stroke.net 22 . so we're gonna start making some really good music in a hurry. and now possess a tool that you can use to make incredible sounding music. clawhammerbanjo. As I said earlier. and I'll see you in lesson five.THE SKY IS THE LIMIT Congratulations. from here on out most of our exercises are gonna be either parts of tunes or entire tunes. So practice up.

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THE HAMMER ON When we execute a hammer on with our fretting hand. Then play the open first. Then try playing the open 2nd. And in the next two videos. As I mentioned in lesson five. Specifically. Try playing the open 4th and then.net 29 . and then hammer onto the 1st fret with your index finger. we'll be covering the two primary techniques for doing so. In this lesson. And there are a couple of ways of executing the hammer on. The first is to hammer onto a string that we've just struck with our picking hand. Hopefully. and then hammer onto the 4th string at the second fret with the middle finger of my fretting hand. we produce a new note. the fretting hand in clawhammer banjo is oftentimes called upon to do more than it is on perhaps your average stringed instrument. there are many circumstances where. then you're probably familiar with the technique of hammering onto a string you've just struck.play it open and then hammer onto the 2nd fret with your middle finger. if I strike the open 4th string with my picking finger. In doing so. you've made your way through the exercises from the last video and are comfortable with the basics of fretting a note. and then fretting it while it's still moving. So go ahead and give that a try on each of the strings. I've used my fretting finger to change that note from a D to an E. fret the string at the 2nd fret with the middle finger of your fretting hand. we’ll be picking up where we left off in our last video by continuing our work on fretting techniques. For example. we'll instead use one of the fingers of our fretting hand to do so. while the string is still sounding that note. Hammering on the Same String If you've played other stringed instruments. Practice those hammer ons for a bit until you’ve gotten the basic idea of it. The one we'll be covering in this video is the hammer on. or if you've played fingerstyle banjo. instead of sounding a note with our picking finger. Hammering onto a Different String (alternate string hammer ons) clawhammerbanjo. what we're essentially doing is taking a string that's already vibrating (and sounding a note we can hear). hammering on again at the 2nd fret with your middle finger.Lesson 6: Hammering On   Welcome to the sixth installment in the 8 essential steps to clawhammer banjo video series. Then try doing the same on the 3rd string .

4=pinky). 3=ring. An alternate string hammer on. 1=index. Once you're comfortable with that. which refers to the finger of my fretting hand I usually use to execute the hammer on. In tablature. a hammer on onto a string you’ve just struck is typically represented with an arc joining the two notes together. with a capital “H” over the top (standing for “hammer”). on the other hand. and then hammer onto the 4th string second fret.a my middle finger. Try striking the open 2nd string. So now give this try. Exercise Two clawhammerbanjo. in the fourth measure of the example below there’s a “2” underneath the tab. and then hammer onto a different string with your fretting hand. Then strike the open 3rd. For example. I’m striking the open 2nd string with my picking finger.k. For example. we're going to use a little picking pattern to practice these two hammer on techniques. This is often referred to as an "alternate string hammer on". 2=middle. is to strike a note with your picking finger. I can strike the open 2nd string with my picking finger and then hammer onto the 3rd string at the second fret. then hammer onto the 3rd string second fret. the string I'm hammering onto with my fretting hand is different than the one I just struck with my picking hand (though the technique is the same). which works particularly well on the banjo. Once again. we’ll move on to a couple of exercises.net 30 . Exercise One In this first exercise.One of the cool things you can do with hammer ons. Here. and then hammering onto the 3rd string (at the 2nd fret) with my 2nd finger (a. is represented by a number underneath the tablature.

And. If you’re practicing it along with the metronome (click here for the metronome playlist). See you in lesson 7! clawhammerbanjo. It’s supposed to. if you have questions or comments about this lesson. we'll be playing the A part of the tune "Turkey in the Straw. most importantly.In this last exercise. please leave them in the comments section of the video.net 31 . I’d suggest starting with perhaps the 40 bpm setting and then slowly working your way up from there. have fun with it! As always. don’t worry if this one feels challenging at first. Here’s the tab: Now. and I've chosen it because it's one of those tunes where the use of hammer ons allows us to play more melody notes than we would be able to if we were just to use the picking finger of our picking hand. So this exercise gives a nice illustration of what this technique allows you to do." It's a very "notey" tune.

Plucking Off on the Same String Now. just as we did with the hammer on. Try to do it so you get a clear note that rings out. and then pull off the string after I've struck it. second fret with your middle finger. if I fret the first string at the second fret with my middle finger.or plucking . And lastly. I think this could’ve been largely avoided if we could just go back and rename this a "pluck off". THE PULL OFF The pull off is one of those techniques where it can be easy for folks to get into a bad habit. we’ll be continuing to work on those fretting hand techniques that allow us to steal extran notes from the banjo without breaking the clawhammer motion. In this lesson. What you're really doing here is plucking the string with your fretting finger . second fret with your middle finger. usually because they've gotten the wrong idea about what they should be doing with their fretting hand/finger to execute the technique. the first thing we're going to learn is pulling off on a string we've just struck with our picking finger.net 32 . this time…the pull off. Then try that same thing using your middle and ring finger.instead of your picking finger .to play a note. Do this until you feel like you've got the basic idea of it. Then try a pull off on the third string. Last time it was the hammer on. try pulling off the fourth string. So. before you go any further. then move on.off the 1st string at the 2nd fret with your middle finger after you strike it with your picking finger. For example. go ahead and just try plucking the first string with the index finger of your fretting hand. clawhammerbanjo. then strike that string with my fretting hand.Lesson 7: Pluck Off   Welcome to the seventh installment in the 8 essential steps to clawhammer banjo video series. because in my mind that's the best way to think about it. what I've done here is used my fretting hand to change the note from an E to a D. Then try the same thing at the first fret of the second string using your index for the pull off. So now go ahead and practice pulling .

Pulling Off onto a Different String (alternate string pull offs) Just as was the case with the hammer on. Strike the second string open with your picking finger. And what this allows us to do is play another note without having to break the clawhammer motion. clawhammerbanjo. one of the cool things we can do with this technique is pull off a string other than the one we've just struck with our picking finger. Regardless of whether you pull off up towards the peghead or way down by the banjo head. and might become your “go to” finger for this technique in the future. So go ahead and give that a try.the only difference being we’re doing this on a string other than the one we just struck with our picking finger. One more important thing to note here is that it actually doesn't matter where on the fretboard you pluck off the string.net 33 . The technique here is the same as pulling off the same string in that we’re just plucking a string with a fretting finger . You may ultimately find one finger feels more comfortable for these pull offs. Give this pull off a try with your middle and ring finger as well. the note you play will be the same. then pull off the first string with your index after doing so.

and you can use the metronome playlist I’ve created if needed. indicating that I'm pulling of the first string in each of those spots using my 2nd. I’d encourage you to practice these exercises along with the metronome. we're going to use a little picking pattern to work on these two pull off techniques. So you'll see there's a "2" underneath the tab in measures 3 and 4. You'll note here in the tab that. similar to the hammer on. Alternate string pull offs are denoted by a number underneath the tab.Exercise One In this first exercise. Once again. clawhammerbanjo. Start out at the slowest setting and only move to faster speeds once you can comfortably play along with the one you’re on. finger. or middle. And though the exercise itself is just eight measures long. with the letters "PO" over it to signify a pull off.net 34 . The tuning for this exercise is standard G (gDGBD). which refers to the fretting hand finger I typically use to execute the pull off. a pull off is represented by an arc joining the string you strike with your picking finger to the note you pull off to with your fretting finger. I’d encourage you to keep looping through it over and over as you practice it (I’d encourage doing this with all of the exercises).

congratulations. Naturally. go pluck off! clawhammerbanjo. Once again. and you do so while laying your index finger of your fretting hand across the strings at the fifth fret (so that you’re simultaneously fretting all 3 strings and the 5th fret). cause you're developing all the fundamentals you need for a lifetime of great music. And if you've made it to this point. You’ll note in this tab in measures 3 and 4 that there are spots where the number “5” is on strings 1. Here. This is referred to as a “bar” position for the fretting hand (the finger is functioning as a “bar” over the strings). which. I thought it fitting we conclude this video with the B part. the pull offs here allow us to get melody notes in this tune that we wouldn't have otherwise been able to get without breaking our clawhammer motion. Just Pluck It Okay. Just use it as motivation to push yourself to get better.Exercise Two So in last week's second exercise. we played the A part of the tune “Turkey in the Straw”.net 35 . 2. we have only one lesson left in our 8 essential steps video series. Just like the hammer ons did for the A part. and that's perfectly fine. you may find this a little challenging right now. as it turns out. and your hard work and focus will ultimately pay off in a big way. and 3. also provides a good workout for our pull offs. So. if my mathematical skills serve me right. until next time. you’re executing a brush stroke.

as with those other two. move to the new note. we'll cover the last of what I consider the fundamental fretting hand techniques. you're once again using your fretting hand to produce a new note. You'll note here in the tab that slides are represented in the tab with a line joining the note you start the slide on with the note you end on. trying sliding on the 4th string from the 4th to the 5th fret. again fretting with your middle finger. So. In the case of the slide. then. you're changing a note that was struck by your picking hand to a new note.and final . the slide allows you to better mimic what we oftentimes do with our voice when we move from one note to the next. and they’re not too difficult to learn! Slides are also sound great on fretless banjos . while still holding the string down with your fretting finger. try sliding on the 2nd string from the 2nd fret to the 3rd fret. In my opinion. but rather we tend to “slide” up from the first note to the second. Once you’ve gotten a little comfortable with these.. Start by fretting it with your middle finger at the 2nd fret. I'll cover this again in a bit. as with the hammer on and pull off. In this lesson. The slide is a common device used by clawhammer banjoists. We don't typically move discreetly. Try doing this first on the 3rd string.net 36 . Exercise One In this first exercise. clawhammerbanjo. with the letters “Sl” over it. we're again going to use a little picking pattern to work on these slides we just reviewed. As you’ll discover. slide your fretting finger from the 2nd fret to the 4th fret (holding the string down with your fretting finger the entire time)..Lesson 8: Sliding into Home   Welcome to the eighth . then strike the string with your picking finger. however. it's another great tool for adding another layer of interest to your music. in this case.. lastly. and after you’ve struck it. it’s no suprise that slides do too.and since fretless banjos have played a big part in the clawhammer tradition. to execute the slide. And.the slide. Then strike the middle string with your middle finger. This slide on the 3rd string from the 2nd to 4th fret is probably by far the one used most in clawhammer banjo. After getting comfortable with that slide.installment in the 8 essential steps to clawhammer banjo video series. you're also sounding all the notes in between on your way there. let’s try them in an exercise. your start with the fretting finger on the starting note. THE TECHNIQUE With the slide.

I’d encourage you to practice these exercises along with the metronome. and you can use the metronome playlist I’ve created if needed. Start out at the slowest setting and only move to faster speeds once you can comfortably play along with the one you’re on.net 37 . I’d encourage you to keep looping through it over and over as you practice it (I’d encourage doing this with all of the exercises). And though the exercise itself is just eight measures long. Once again.The tuning for this exercise is standard G (gDGBD). clawhammerbanjo.

net 38 .com clawhammerbanjo. But this isn't quite goodbye. just like that. as I'll be coming back with a few follow up installments where we'll work on learning some tunes. If you've made through all the lessons this far. congratulations! Thanks to all your hard work. Au Revoir…or not! And. specifically the A part of the song “Bile Dem Cabbage Down”.Exercise Two Now we're gonna work on slides in the context of a tune. we've reach the end of our 8th and final lesson. Wanna take your playing even further? Learn more at breakthroughbanjo. you now possess all the fundamental technical building blocks needed to make a lifetime of great music. Here. and in doing so demonstrate how these fundamental technical elements you've just learned can be combined in virtually infinite number of ways to create all manner of wonderful music. you’ll note that the slide on the 3rd string helps us to better capture how we’d sing this song with our voice.

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