Irish tenor banjo string damping

Irish tenor banjo string damping

Just got hold of a Deering Goodtime which sounds great.

Question………..do you dampen open strings with your right hand to stop them ringing whilst playing other strings?
Looked at a number of videos and consulted various online tutors but no one seems to mention it.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Re: Irish tenor banjo string damping

No.

Re: Irish tenor banjo string damping

No.

Re: Irish tenor banjo string damping

No
Don’t stick your hand on strings nor bridge, it’s a tone killer
Don’t stick your pinky on the skin, tone killer again
Keep your hand FREE to move fast and easy.

Use open strings to harmonise the melody.

Re: Irish tenor banjo string damping

Thanks for the advice folks.

I think because it is quite loud I am very aware of the other open strings resonating which may not be as obvious to anyone listening.

I do prefer the sound much more when not dampening…..more twangy! Also is a bit easier to play as bobmarlec says….keep it free and easy.

Duly noted and understood!

Re: Irish tenor banjo string damping

I’m not convinced that most players don’t damp (the strings higher than the one they are playing) with their fretting hand, nor am I convinced that most players never anchor their wrist on the head. The last thing I’m sure doesn’t exist is an ideal ITM banjo tone. If you like the tone better when dampening, then I think you should do it, but if not then you shouldn’t. I think it also depends a lot on the banjo that you are playing and how it is set up. One banjo might get a lot more harmonic ringing of the open strings than another one.

I will agree that you almost never see ITM players anchor with the pinky.

Re: Irish tenor banjo string damping

I use both left and right hand to dampen and mute strings. But I have an uncommon technique, as I use a three finger picking approach. This has advantages and disadvantages, like most techniques. But a lot of my dampening is done by intentionally allowing picking fingers to touch picked strings I don’t want to hear resonate too long of a time. Also, I will allow my left hand fingers to touch the G string so that if I accidentally hit it, it will be muted.

Re: Irish tenor banjo string damping

Sometimes I dampen, even mute, the strings with the heel of my hand on the bridge. I’ve learned (mostly) not to use my finger on the skin. Sometimes I want to let ‘em ring. It’s all about what I want, and what I want others, to hear. To ring through or not, is a choice and I can think if several reasons to dampen and several not to. For sure, dampening can be over done. I’d say that if you can articulate a compelling reason for doing it then go ahead. It’s probably better to apply that idea to any creative variable.

Re: Irish tenor banjo string damping

Horses for courses

If you want dynamic control and some ‘crunch’ then be like Seamus Egan and ignore some of the above posts.

Posted by .

Re: Irish tenor banjo string damping

Rules are for learners, to get rid of bad habits.
Seamus Egan does not ignore rules, he is far beyond these. His dampening is perfectly mastered and I suppose it comes from both hands.

Re: Irish tenor banjo string damping

I don’t see much in the way of individual string damping, but I do see a lot of skin/head damping.

I personally think you get a nasty sound if you don’t damp, but that’s just me. Way too open and ringy. You certainly would if played a 5-string banjo that way.

Re: Irish tenor banjo string damping

1 - my banjo has no resonator
2 - my bridge is lightly damped from behind by a little foam sponge
3 - I dampen (or not) on request with the right hand or with left fingers

Re: Irish tenor banjo string damping

I’m also a five string bluegrass player. I once asked Bela Fleck how he eliminated pick noise and he said, "I’ll tell you but you might not like my answer. I will it away."

Don’t underestimate the power of ‘willing’ away unwanted notes or overtones.

Re: Irish tenor banjo string damping

I use a pipe cleaner between the bridge and the tailpiece to get rid of some unwanted overtones on my goodtime, seems to help.
I like my goodtime a lot as well. Not as loud as some but really easy to play. I put a renaissance head and two foot bridge on there and it sounds great.

Re: Irish tenor banjo string damping

So it seems that the answer may be;

‘You’re damped if you do and damped if you don’t’.

Is damping a matter of choice used when and if the need arises? I certainly have a flexible approach when playing guitar.

There are a variety of tones possible on the Goodtime I have. Damping could be another way of extending the tonal range. But this is all quite subtle and perhaps only really noticeable to me.