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View Full Version : DEERING VEGA 5 String Banjo



Ken Middleton
04-28-2014, 09:25 AM
Recently bought an old time banjo.

Here's a tune called Lord Of The Dance (Simple Gifts). Still a work in progress.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuNEfLhdKqM

trickcyclist
04-28-2014, 01:27 PM
Really pretty nice. But............ you're playing it like a ukulele ;)

GregT
04-28-2014, 06:47 PM
Recently bought an old time banjo.


Must be something in the air. I just bought a Bart Reiter Special 5 string banjo. It's a lot of fun so far

Ken Middleton
04-28-2014, 09:21 PM
Really pretty nice. But............ you're playing it like a ukulele ;)

Sorry! I am a ukulele player and have only been playing banjo for a month. I will try to improve.

Ken Middleton
04-29-2014, 09:11 AM
Must be something in the air. I just bought a Bart Reiter Special 5 string banjo. It's a lot of fun so far

I think it is because the banjo really is a fun instrument to play.

RichM
04-29-2014, 09:21 AM
Sorry! I am a ukulele player and have only been playing banjo for a month. I will try to improve.

I think you're pulling off some pretty credible clawhammer there, Ken-- not sure where the "playing it like a ukulele" comments comes from!

barefootgypsy
04-29-2014, 09:38 AM
It sounds great to me Ken! I do love the sound of a banjo. I think you're doing really well..... I was actually saving up for one when I caught the banjolele bug instead!

Ken Middleton
04-29-2014, 09:56 AM
I think you're pulling off some pretty credible clawhammer there, Ken-- not sure where the "playing it like a ukulele" comments comes from!

Thanks Rich. I need to get a little more accurate with my picking. And I need to do some proper practise.

cb56
04-29-2014, 03:18 PM
Haha, Ken you could make a rubber band stretched over a pencil sound good.
Here are some great videos for learning old time frailing (clawhammer)
http://frailingbanjo.com/
I've been playing about 3 years now and learned everything I needed to know from Pat and Patrick Costello's videos.

Ken Middleton
04-29-2014, 09:41 PM
It sounds great to me Ken! I do love the sound of a banjo. I think you're doing really well..... I was actually saving up for one when I caught the banjolele bug instead!

I love the sound of the banjo too, Lesley. Any instrument that gives one pleasure is good. Because I earn my living from the ukulele, I obviously have to take it very seriously. I can be much more relaxed in my approach to banjo playing.


Haha, Ken you could make a rubber band stretched over a pencil sound good.
Here are some great videos for learning old time frailing (clawhammer)
http://frailingbanjo.com/
I've been playing about 3 years now and learned everything I needed to know from Pat and Patrick Costello's videos.

I will certainly check these out. Thanks very much for your kind and helpful words.

trickcyclist
04-29-2014, 09:59 PM
Really pretty nice. But............ you're playing it like a ukulele ;)
No offence meant at all. After all, I think I'm probably playing my uke like a banjo right now! I meant to be a bit tongue in cheek, but the smiley has come out so tiny I can't see that one eye is winking even though I know it is.
On a more technique oriented note, most clawhammer players wouldn't play the double time run of notes you played towards the end with fast sequential downstrokes, as it breaks up the rhythm. It would normally be a combo of hammer ons, pull offs, drop thumbing and cross string playing, and they would retune if necessary just to make that passage easier (or more likely would miss out a couple of the notes and just thumb the high string instead, and let people's ears make it sound right). However, a hundred years ago people played like that all the time. Nowadays it's called stroke style or minstrel style. Less common, but perfectly fine.
I think you do have a problem with your thumb on the high string though. It looks to me as though you are actively plucking it downwards when you play it, which slows you down and will cause problems when you start drop thumbing to play the other strings. You should try and just lightly pluck the high string when you lift your hand UP off the string. The action is, bizarrely, a bit like a uke downstroke with a twist of the wrist doing it. Some folks do bend their thumb when they want to play the high string, but that's just so they make contact, the pluck is still light and upwards. If you can crack that your playing will get faster.a d a lot smoother, and the world of syncopated drop thumbing will be yours for the taking :D

Ken Middleton
04-30-2014, 04:19 AM
No offence meant at all. After all, I think I'm probably playing my uke like a banjo right now! I meant to be a bit tongue in cheek, but the smiley has come out so tiny I can't see that one eye is winking even though I know it is.
On a more technique oriented note, most clawhammer players wouldn't play the double time run of notes you played towards the end with fast sequential downstrokes, as it breaks up the rhythm. It would normally be a combo of hammer ons, pull offs, drop thumbing and cross string playing, and they would retune if necessary just to make that passage easier (or more likely would miss out a couple of the notes and just thumb the high string instead, and let people's ears make it sound right). However, a hundred years ago people played like that all the time. Nowadays it's called stroke style or minstrel style. Less common, but perfectly fine.
I think you do have a problem with your thumb on the high string though. It looks to me as though you are actively plucking it downwards when you play it, which slows you down and will cause problems when you start drop thumbing to play the other strings. You should try and just lightly pluck the high string when you lift your hand UP off the string. The action is, bizarrely, a bit like a uke downstroke with a twist of the wrist doing it. Some folks do bend their thumb when they want to play the high string, but that's just so they make contact, the pluck is still light and upwards. If you can crack that your playing will get faster.a d a lot smoother, and the world of syncopated drop thumbing will be yours for the taking :D

Thanks very much for the help you have given me. It is much appreciated.

Can't agree about the run of notes though. All music, particularly classical, will have a mixture of individual (tongued, bowed, plucked) notes and slurred notes. I see no reason why the banjo should be different. As you say, many years ago the banjo was played differently. I don't believe it breaks up the rhythm at all, if played in time. It adds variety. In any case, I hadn't practised the tune and was just making it up as I went along and didn't have too much time to think ahead.

I know what you mean about the thumb. But I am so used to using a variety of techniques on the ukulele. The thumb picking technique on the banjo is a little counter-intuitive. However, I have another problem. My thumb nail is very long and needs to stay that way. It makes banjo playing with the "proper" technique more difficult. I may just have to persevere with what I am doing.

Thanks again.

IamNoMan
10-04-2014, 05:54 AM
Ken, trickcyclist is absolutey correct about the floppy thumb on the drone string. What he says about the dropthumb is right-on as well. When you get involved more with melodic playing, like irish tunes, dropthumb is the only way to keep up. The floppy thumb does screw your rhythm as well. Which is problematic on fast or complex tunes and triplets -(which you are calling run of notes I think). Your vid is a good tool to use if you want to correct this condition.

Hey it doesn't matter how you play it; if you enjoy it. I play my uke like a banjo too. I rather enjoyed the minstrel style change-up myself. Tasty.

As for the thumbnail problem: Get a thumbpick, better yet get a set of fingerpicks but use the thumb-pick. Purist's may squawk but so what. You have to make a living and the thumbpick will protect your thumbnail.

I purchased a Deering a while ago, (not a Vega). I didn't like it. The string spacing was too narrow for me and the fret dressing was horrible or non-existant. Tore my hand up something fierce.

On the other hand how do you like your Reiter? I've had one for about 30 years. it is a workhorse. Bart is making a Whyte Lady knock-off that I'm really tempted to order. If/when I do I will get Don Sinetti at Mystic Seaport to do some whaling scene inlay work.