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April 16, 2009 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Need help on frailing banjo shit

What's this guy doing?

I've gotten a basic frailing pattern down of: pick a note; rest; strum the string; thumb the high string, as well as: pick a note; hammer-on/pull-of/slide/whathaveyou; strum the strings; thumb the high string. But what the guy in the video is doing is much different. He seems to have two basic patterns, one slower at the beginning and one starting around 1:10, and he seems to be drumming with his thumb and playing runs of quarter-notes, and my mind is much too slow to break down what he's doing and copy it. If anyone could tell me exactly what his right hand does in what order -- just the general patterns, I don't need the whole song transcribed -- I'd be very grateful.

I'm not so much interested in the notes -- I can figure out the left-hand stuff. I just want to practice his right-hand patterns and I'm absolutely baffled.

Yeah, I'm not a natural musician.
posted by creasy boy to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Yeah or: if you just know any songs I could learn to help me break out of the two patterns I know, I'd be interested in that too. But I really just want to play the kind of stuff that guy's playing in the video.
posted by creasy boy at 7:35 AM on April 16, 2009

Best answer: Have you checked out the guys at Banjo Hangout? They love to answer questions and are, you know, Banjo specific.
posted by piedmont at 7:36 AM on April 16, 2009

Best answer: He's basically filling out the rhythm of the "basic frail," which might be described as bum-ditty. Dan Levensen calls this bump-a-ditty. There's numerous ways to do this, but it is basically an alternation of the index (or middle) finger strumming down on one or more strings and the thumb plucking on the 5th string (although, the thumb can drop down and play other strings, sometimes called drop-thumbing.) So instead of: I-rest-I-T, you get I-T-I-T (index and thumb). Except for the parts where is is doing pull-offs on the first string, this fellow appears to be making chord shapes and just filling out the rhythm. To me, it seems like his thumb is basically riding the fifth string and not really dropping down to the other strings.
posted by imposster at 8:06 AM on April 16, 2009

Best answer: Also, Pat Costello has covered a little bit of slide banjo playing with his YouTube videos. Here is a little playlist for you. Watch the one called frailing the blues first.
posted by imposster at 8:15 AM on April 16, 2009

Response by poster: Wow The Daily Frail looks awesome. Thank you.

OK, so the bump-a-ditty makes some sense to me -- and he's just leaving the strum out of the whole pattern?

Isn't he also drumming with his thumb, or am I imagining that?
posted by creasy boy at 8:52 AM on April 16, 2009

Best answer: It sounds like he is letting his hand hit the head of the banjo on the downstroke. I don't believe his thumb is hitting the head and creating a sound.
posted by imposster at 9:01 AM on April 16, 2009

Best answer: This is one of the videos in the playlist. It is basically exactly what the fellow in your video is doing (even down to the turnaround). In fact, your fellow is a subscriber to Pat's videos and his video came out one month after the one I link here.
posted by imposster at 9:05 AM on April 16, 2009

Response by poster: Every answer so far is awesome.
posted by creasy boy at 9:22 AM on April 16, 2009

Response by poster: My question has been answered perfectly. Man, it's hard to get used to leaving out the strum, though, after I went to so much trouble drilling it into myself in the first place.
posted by creasy boy at 9:30 AM on April 16, 2009

My answer isn't that awesome but I did play the clip and notice the guy is pretty good about monitoring his video. Can you send him a message and ask him directly?
posted by crapmatic at 10:28 AM on April 16, 2009

Response by poster: Hmm...that would've been a good idea too had I thought of it. But really, imposster's last link is an instructional video explaining exactly how to play it, which is perfect.
posted by creasy boy at 12:18 PM on April 16, 2009

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