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Thread: Clawhammer technique question...

  1. #1

    Default Clawhammer technique question...

    Soooo....I've begun learning the clawhammer technique and love it. I've been practicing for a couple weeks and finally have the basic 3 part technique down and now am working on accuracy and speed. BUT...the one issue I'm having is the last part where your resting thumb plucks the 4th string at the end. No matter how I have my hand I just can't get that 4th string to ring much at all. Im trying to keep my hand in a loose comfortable claw as recommended but the effort involved in getting that 4th string to ring is causing me to clench my hand more and cause hand fatigue.

    Any advice/tips would be appreciated.

    Shannon
    SOPRANINO: Caramel 17" (zebrawood) "Cecil"
    SOPRANO: Ohana SK-35 (solid mahogany) "Clancy"
    Outdoor Ukulele (bottle brown polycarbonate) "George"
    CONCERT: Gretsch Roots Series G9110-SK (solid koa) "Pearl"
    Ohana CK-28 (solid mahogany) "Manuel" *Nunes-style re-issue
    TENOR: Ohana TK-70-8 8 String (solid spruce & mahogany)
    BANJO UKES: Magic Fluke Firefly (soprano, poly fretboard)
    Gretsch Roots Series G9470 Clarophone (maple)
    VINTAGE/ANTIQUE: 1920 Rolando banjo uke "Grace"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Default

    Practice, my friend, practice ... it will come

    The thumb can provide (at least) two functions in this style, a melody note as part of the tune and as a drone. In the first case, try deliberately picking the note, instead of just getting it to "fit in" with the sequence ... in the second case don't worry about it, it's just there to keep time and really doesn't have to be as loud.

    If you haven't done so already, try recording yourself and then listen critically to the result. If you can hear the melody cleanly with the rest of the playing effectively "filling in the gaps" ... to my mind you've cracked it

    Having all the notes at a similar volume can mask the actual tune and end up with a "virtuoso clatter" ... technically superior but really not very nice to listen to. IMHO

    YMMV
    There are those who will wax lyrical about the ability to play a double shuffle with a split fan and a tight G-string ...
    it just makes me walk funny!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    Quote Originally Posted by weeshan View Post
    Soooo....I've begun learning the clawhammer technique and love it. I've been practicing for a couple weeks and finally have the basic 3 part technique down and now am working on accuracy and speed. BUT...the one issue I'm having is the last part where your resting thumb plucks the 4th string at the end. No matter how I have my hand I just can't get that 4th string to ring much at all. Im trying to keep my hand in a loose comfortable claw as recommended but the effort involved in getting that 4th string to ring is causing me to clench my hand more and cause hand fatigue.

    Any advice/tips would be appreciated.

    Shannon
    Like you, I am just beginning clawhammer with similar hurdles. Here's what I found with the thumb: If I flick/pluck the G string with my thumb the sound, as you noticed, it a little underwhelming. What I do is just drive through the G string with the thumb until it collides with the C string. This is working at least at this beginner's speed. I fear that it might be too heavy-handed to work at full speed

  4. #4
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    Feb 2017
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    Hi Shannon,

    Make sure you are not muting the string with some other part of your hand or arm after you play the fourth string. Try just playing that last part of the clawhammer by itself to see if you can improve the sound by isolating it. Try pulling the string outward, away from the soundboard of the uke, you may get more volume that way. Lastly, play the entire clawhammer pattern VERY SLOWLY and see if you can improve the sound you are getting with your thumb at the slower pace.

    Check out the following video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BS1tXzrVsk

  5. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by weeshan View Post
    Soooo....I've begun learning the clawhammer technique and love it. I've been practicing for a couple weeks and finally have the basic 3 part technique down and now am working on accuracy and speed. BUT...the one issue I'm having ...............

    Any advice/tips would be appreciated.

    Shannon
    "A couple of weeks"really isn't a long time at all! In his book "How to Play the 5-String Banjo", Pete Seeger writes that it took him 3 or 4 months to fully get to grips with this style ... and he was as close to a professional banjo player as anyone gets!

    Good luck
    There are those who will wax lyrical about the ability to play a double shuffle with a split fan and a tight G-string ...
    it just makes me walk funny!

  6. #6
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    Sunny Jersey - where the cows come from!
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikemech View Post
    Check out the following video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BS1tXzrVsk
    This video really is VERY good at demonstrating the basic "bum-titty" on a ukulele
    There are those who will wax lyrical about the ability to play a double shuffle with a split fan and a tight G-string ...
    it just makes me walk funny!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    Default

    how's the clawhammering coming along? For my part, I finally got the rhythm down and the A string is going strong. The E string claw is another matter. I am still working on getting the angle right. As of now it is very muted.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by ripock View Post
    how's the clawhammering coming along? For my part, I finally got the rhythm down and the A string is going strong. The E string claw is another matter. I am still working on getting the angle right. As of now it is very muted.
    Its going! I too have the rhythm down but do better on the E string than the A. Getting reliable sound out of the G string with my thumb is still iffy. I think mainly, I just havent found one particular position for my hand. Speed is also a struggle so Im just concentrating on technique. It seems like if I try to play faster, the technique suffers.
    SOPRANINO: Caramel 17" (zebrawood) "Cecil"
    SOPRANO: Ohana SK-35 (solid mahogany) "Clancy"
    Outdoor Ukulele (bottle brown polycarbonate) "George"
    CONCERT: Gretsch Roots Series G9110-SK (solid koa) "Pearl"
    Ohana CK-28 (solid mahogany) "Manuel" *Nunes-style re-issue
    TENOR: Ohana TK-70-8 8 String (solid spruce & mahogany)
    BANJO UKES: Magic Fluke Firefly (soprano, poly fretboard)
    Gretsch Roots Series G9470 Clarophone (maple)
    VINTAGE/ANTIQUE: 1920 Rolando banjo uke "Grace"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Posts
    146

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by weeshan View Post
    Its going! I too have the rhythm down but do better on the E string than the A. Getting reliable sound out of the G string with my thumb is still iffy. I think mainly, I just havent found one particular position for my hand. Speed is also a struggle so Im just concentrating on technique. It seems like if I try to play faster, the technique suffers.
    For the speed, I've been using a metronome, which seems to bother my cats to no end. I've stopped trying to get faster until I can play all the strings. I can tell that I only barely have it all under control because if I do something with the left hand (like playing C D E "three blind mice") I lose the rhythm about 50% of the time. I'm going to try a suggestion that I heard from Lil Rev to improve my accuracy: play something like the ionic mode with the left hand but clawhammer it instead of plucking it.

    I'm not having any problem with my fourth string (I can't call it my G string without risking lingerie jokes); what I tend to do naturally is get a little under it with my thumb and then pluck upward toward my index finger instead of horizontally toward the C string--if that makes any sense.

    Lastly I have been having some fun to break up the monotony of working on the rhythm. I find the clawhammer technique very upbeat and cheerful. I have been using some more flavorful chords, like the m7b5, to make it a little somber. It is interesting to hear this darker chord played in such a chipper technique.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Southern Oregon
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    Default

    Use a thumb pick.

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