View Full Version : clawhammer thumb drag

10-16-2015, 11:55 AM
I learned the clawhammer technique on my KoAloha Concert. No problem. In a 'a ha' moment, I realized I could trade my old, quality fiddle for a nice new banjolele. I did the deed, and ended up with a brand new Deering Goodtimes banjo uke. However... I can hear my thumb drag along the skin when I'm aiming to rest it on the 4th string. Never noticed the problem with the varnished KoAloha. I was probably still doing it, but it made no sound. Now, however, there is an audible scraping sound along the head of the pot. Is this normal? Is the only way around it to play LOUDER? I can't get a lot of volume out of my middle finger (no puns intended), but I haven't fully gotten used to the Alaska pick yet.

Anyone else noticed this with the thumb, or do you think I need some adjustment to the technique?

10-16-2015, 12:49 PM
I'm no expert ... far from it ... but from what I've managed to put together from various sources, both on the web and in book form, is that the thumb should strike the skin and the 4th string AT THE SAME TIME, thereby giving that characteristic "drum-beat" effect, rather than effectively "finding" the skin and then sliding up to the 4th string in preparation for plucking it, which seems to be what you're describing. Indeed, in some instances one may want to come to rest on the 4th string without actually having caused a "drum-beat".

I'd suggest a slight re-positioning of the picking hand, so's the thumb approaches the skin/string at more of an angle, rather than relatively horizontally.

This may involve effectively "rolling" your whole hand over slightly to bring the thumb more above the 4th string than it is at the moment.

The net result of this may also result in a more powerful (louder) picking action from your finger ... maybe two birds with one stone ? :)

As always ... YMMV, but good luck, the end result is worth it :)

10-16-2015, 03:24 PM
great explanation kypfer, thanks

10-17-2015, 04:41 AM
Yes, excellent reply. Back to the drawing board (not really).