The clawhammer banjo technique works quite well on a ukulele in the standard GCEA tuning, especially playing in the key of C or the key of G. Since, like the 5-string banjo, there is a string that is higher pitched on the opposite side, the same technique results in the same sound. The term "double thumbing" is sometimes used interchangeably with "drop thumbing", though double thumbing refers specifically to striking the fifth string after every beat rather than every other beat, while drop thumbing refers to dropping the thumb from the 5th drone string down to strike a melody note. In clawhammer, only downstrokes are used, and they are typically played with one fingernail as is the usual technique on the banjo. In its most common form on the banjo, only the thumb and middle or index finger are used and the finger always downpicks, hitting the string with the back of the fingernail. Fifth, I play in multiple tunings, and sometimes replace the sixth string bass with a high sixth string treble (of the same gauge employed for the first string). Krassen, Miles. This feature of clawhammer technique gives the music a heavier – and, to my ear, more natural – drive than it would have if it were played, say, as melody over an alternating bass. Third, the index finger never plays off the beat, and the thumb never plays on the beat. Second, no note is ever plucked; each is played either with the thumb, or by striking down on a string with the nail of the index finger. "Clawhammer Banjo ~ Tunes, Tips & Jamming" (Book and CD set). (, Seeger, Pete. Confusing the nomenclature further are the terms that are used for perceived variations on the method. In frailing, the index fingertip is used for up-picking melody, and the middle fingernail is used for rhythmic downward brushing. Fourth, for any piece, most of the notes are produced by the left hand, in combinations of slides, hammers, and pull-offs; slurs can occur on or off the beat. [3], Alec Stone Sweet describes the clawhammer technique in the liner notes to "Tumblin' Gap: Clawhammer Guitar Solos": "There are five characteristics of the way I play clawhammer. This combined with the middle finger strumming provides a characteristic "bum-ditty bum-ditty" banjo sound,[1] whether actually played on a banjo or on a guitar. "How to Play the 5-String Banjo." Erbsen, Wayne. If you need to adjust your banjo's action, you will need to adjust the 2 rim rods traversing the center of the rim. Clawhammer, sometimes called frailing, is a distinctive banjo playing style and a common component of American old-time music. Early practitioners include Clarence Ashley, Fred Cockerham, Tommy Jarrell, Uncle Dave Macon, Grandpa Jones, Kyle Creed, David Akeman ("Stringbean"), Kirk McGee, Wade Ward, and Bashful Brother Oswald. There are yet more variations of the distinction between "clawhammer" and "frailing", but they all refer to the same general style of playing. The fretting hand also comes into play in this approach to playing banjo. Published by the author. Some players further distinguish between "drop thumb" and "clawhammer", in which the thumb plays rhythm in drop thumb, but melody in clawhammer. Beacon, NY. "Round Peak Style Clawhammer Banjo" Published by Mel Bay Publications, 1999 (, Baughman, Steve. Mel Bay Publications, 2003. There is also a known style where two fingers are used brushing down described as "Knock-Down". "Clawhammer Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus" (Book and CD set). Musicians who use or who have used the clawhammer style of picking include Mark Johnson, Pete Seeger, Ola Belle Reed, Hank 3, Doc Watson, Rhiannon Giddens, Barbecue Bob, Lee Sexton, J.D. Traditional picking styles (classic banjo), including those for folk, bluegrass, and classical guitar, consist of an up-picking motion by the fingers and a down-picking motion by the thumb; this is also the technique used in the Scruggs style for the banjo. By contrast, the thumb rests on the fifth string with the downpick motion, and is often released in a lighter up-pick to create the distinctive clawhammer sound. In particular, the duo of a fiddler playing melody alongside a driving clawhammer accompanist once served as a basic Appalachian dance band, as recalled by Ralph Stanley in his autobiography, Man of Constant Sorrow. Koken, Walt. A common characteristic of clawhammer patterns is the thumb does not pick on the downbeat, as one might in typical fingerpicking patterns for guitar. Normal string height, or action, is about 1/8″ above the 12th fret and 9/64″ above the 22nd fret as measured from the top of each fret to the center of the strings. Scottish comedian Billy Connolly is also an accomplished clawhammer banjo player who was filmed playing his banjo at the North Pole in a BBC travelogue programme "A Scot in the Arctic". Native Ground Music, 2004. First, every specific note played by the right hand is produced either by the index finger or the thumb. The banjo player will realize that I use my thumb on the bass strings to obtain drones, much as a clawhammer player uses the banjo’s high fifth string; indeed, when I string the guitar with a high treble in place of the sixth-string bass, it is partly to imitate the fifth string of the banjo. For instance, one consequence of changing head types was a drastic change in string action (string height). "[4], Players in this down-picking style include Jody Stecher, Barbecue Bob, Ola Belle Reed, Alec Stone Sweet, Steve Baughman, and Michael Stadler.[5]. Although much traditional clawhammer banjo playing is highly rhythmic, it typically includes elements of melody, harmony, rhythm and percussion. The clawhammer banjo technique works quite well on a ukulele in the standard GCEA tuning, especially playing in the key of C or the key of G. Since, like the 5-string banjo, there is a string that is higher pitched on the opposite side, the same technique results in the same sound. The hand assumes a claw-like shape and the strumming finger is kept fairly stiff, striking the strings by the motion of the hand at the wrist and/or elbow, rather than a flicking motion by the finger. [citation needed] The index and middle fingers are held in a claw shape and they do resemble the two prongs of a claw hammer, but this is an uncommon and arguably incorrect usage of the term "clawhammer". "The Art of the Mountain Banjo." These include "flailing," "knockdown", "banging," "rapping," "frapping", "beating," and "clubbing." Wilkes, Old Man Luedecke, Ralph Stanley, Hobart Smith, Neil Young, Bob Carlin, Dwight Diller, Dick Kimmel, Walt Koken, Brad Leftwich, Dan Levenson, Michael J. This is reflective of the informality of old-time music in general, as each player develops an idiomatic style. Examples include Michael Todd, of Coheed and Cambria, and Steve Parker of Elements of Refusal. [citation needed]. Normal string height on a banjo is 1/8″ above the 12th fret and 9/64″ above the 22nd fret, which is measured to the center of the string from the top of each fret.