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Thread: Non-claw clawhammer technique

  1. #1
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    Default Non-claw clawhammer technique

    I'm working on my banjolele (Outdoor) to figure out clawhammer. It is very alien to me. I spotted this video which shows a "softer" and easier way to play this style. I'm curious if anyone else plays like this.

    Basically the initial single string strike is replaced with a upwards pluck.

    EDIT: I guess this is Pete Seeger style?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0fNehrpwZ8
    Last edited by warx; 02-28-2021 at 05:07 AM.

  2. #2
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    That seems like an advanced variation. It takes a while to get the hang of the claw and learning how wide to make the claw to hit whichever string that needs to be hit. Since hammering the claw down is what gives the technique its signature sound and name, I'd suggest sticking with the claw. However you cannot go wrong, really. If you stick with that sneaky upstroke, it will be less percussive but still awesome in its own right.

  3. #3
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    I want to start learning clawhammer as well and I've seen this video. In my mind, this approach seems to make more sense and is a more natural movement in harmony with those movements used in picking/strumming. To my ears, it sounds like a different approach to make the same sound. I haven't earnestly started trying to learn yet but I have no qualms about trying to play the way demonstrated in the video if I can't seem to get the hang of playing clawhammer the traditional way.
    Money can't buy happiness but it can buy a uke which is basically the same thing.

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    Thanks for reminding me of her video. i tired it a few months ago, then forgot it. It actually was easier for me. To play clawhammer with a claw hand, the fingernails have to be perfect. I never did get the knack.
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

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    I became marginally proficient in claw-hammer but gave it up because it was a one-trick pony and for my goals I need more versatile tools. However here's what I did

    1. for rhythm I used the metronome to get that dactylic rhythm of long-short-short into my head. I gave the "bum" two beats and one beat to each half of the ditty
    2. The trick to the claw, for me, was learning to open or close the claw so that the fingernail of the claw struck the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd string as the need arose. I just practiced playing re-entrant scales clawing all the notes instead of plucking them. If I remember correctly clawing the E string was the most difficult because it is in the middle. It was easy to hit the C string with a tight claw and to hit the A string with a loose claw. But the E string took a little more precision.
    3. I suppose I should mention that I preferred to use my middle finger for the claw. The index finger seemed to require me to cock my wrist a bit.

    That was my experience with claw hammer

  6. #6
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    Alright! I'll stick with it. I'm getting stuck on the thumb pluck being very inconsistent. My thumb has only ever been used to finger-picking with the tip and not plucking while being pulled away. Oh so odd! I'll also try the middle finger too. It naturally sits longer for me (I have big hands/long fingers). In all the videos I've watched it's really hard to see at what angle the bum and the strum hit the strings. i.e. the angle of attack to the sound board. is it a true "knock" perpendicular to the soundboard or quite a bit of downwards (then my thumb gets hooked!).

    I know it's just one style - but it seems like it's a really fun entertaining solo method. One reason I love the uke.

  7. #7
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    I don't totally understand the angle at which the index finger is striking the single string. When they say claw hammer is a knocking motion, that would seem to imply that you are striking the string at a 90 deg angle - like you are hitting directly to the back of the uke. So there would be no downward movement toward the floor at all, say at a 75 deg angle?
    Last edited by mikelz777; 02-28-2021 at 03:29 PM.
    Money can't buy happiness but it can buy a uke which is basically the same thing.

    Ukes are a lot like potato chips. It's hard to stop with just one!

  8. #8
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    Lil' Rev video seems to definitely have more of a downward stroke - plus the claw opens to do the strum more than other videos.

    For a complete clawhammer beginner like me it's hard when folks do it in slow motion but have a completely different hand and thumb position than that they actually play with. Need to find a high-speed/slo-mo video of someone playing at normal speed and slow it down It's hard to not get too tied up trying to practice this though; I need to limit myself to three sessions of a few minutes each a day and then just play normally so I don't feel like a complete incompetent...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxVtV2wojyo

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by warx View Post
    .... I need to limit myself to three sessions of a few minutes each a day and then just play normally so I don't feel like a complete incompetent...
    I think that's a wise approach. That's what I've been doing with some fingerpicking songs I've been working on as well as some songs that have some new/tough chords for me.
    Money can't buy happiness but it can buy a uke which is basically the same thing.

    Ukes are a lot like potato chips. It's hard to stop with just one!

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