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View Full Version : Ideal ukulele for clawhammer?



Piecomics
10-16-2017, 02:55 PM
Just wondering if anyone has insight into this? I happily have used a deering tenor banjolele, a caramel cheapie concert, and briefly my kiwaya. The best tone I've heard with clawhammer playing was from James Hill, nicely clear and well articulated.

I'm thinking the action would need to be relatively higher, with a wider nut? Just curious if anyone has any thoughts on this.

Thanks!
Ben

Mivo
10-17-2017, 12:46 AM
Higher action would probably be favorable, and possibly only a 12-frets fretboard (or at least a shorter one that doesn't go close to the soundhole).

kypfer
10-17-2017, 08:14 AM
High action you don't want ... it'll only give you intonation issues, but what may be very helpful is a "short" fretboard, as suggested by Mivo, to give more clearance under the strings just above the soundhole, so's your thumb can get a good hold on the drone string when needed.

I've filed the corner off a couple of fretboards to stop them digging into my thumb ... I've yet to take the leap of faith it'll take to actually cut off the end inch or two of the fretboard to give me the clearance I have on my banjolele, which, of course, is the ultimate "clawhammer tool", but it's LOUD ... not an instrument to practice on in the evening!

Good luck :)

Piecomics
10-17-2017, 08:21 AM
What banjolele are you using? I played a deering, which I liked at the time but it was a little "floppy"for clawhammer I thought. I'd love to be able to afford a beansprout but it isn't in the cards...

Nickie
10-17-2017, 03:56 PM
Piecomics,
I'm playing the Duke banjouke, but I don't think it's any easier to learn clawhammer on. My fingers hit the drumhead a lot, but this is due to a lack of finesse.

Mivo
10-17-2017, 04:02 PM
Piecomics,
I'm playing the Duke banjouke, but I don't think it's any easier to learn clawhammer on. My fingers hit the drumhead a lot, but this is due to a lack of finesse.

Lots of banjo Clawhammer players do that on purpose -- it adds a percussive element! If you look at older heads on Clawhammer banjos, the material is often heavily worn in the places where the fingers or thumb hit the top.

kypfer
10-17-2017, 10:53 PM
Lots of banjo Clawhammer players do that on purpose -- it adds a percussive element! If you look at older heads on Clawhammer banjos, the material is often heavily worn in the places where the fingers or thumb hit the top.

Exactly this !!

Piecomics asked:

What banjolele are you using? I played a deering, which I liked at the time but it was a little "floppy"for clawhammer I thought.

My instrument is an old (1930's?) "John Grey & Son" soprano, with a vellum head. This too was "floppy" until I discovered that if I tuned the "generic nylon" strings up to "D"-tuning, aDF#B, all floppiness went away and it rung like a bell!

A little further research allowed me to discover that Aquila make a set of "reds" specifically for a soprano banjolele that are a little thicker than their "normal" soprano "reds". These allowed me to revert to "C"-tuning, gCEA, but still retain the "tautness" I preferred!

As is often the case ... YMMV :music: