Tenor Banjo strokes

Tenor Banjo strokes

Hi everyone. Is there anybody out there that plays a banjo. I looking for a few tips on plec strokes and are they really that important. When I’m playing jigs I use D U D D U D even when changing strings. For a reel I use D U D U D U D U.etc. Do you think that is right. At the start I was using what ever stroke came my way but my playing really sounded like I was rushing. Now I use the strokes that I was talking about and I find that they really bring out the tune. It didn’t take me to long to get used to them and they really are a major part of my playing. I’m not sure what strokes to use when I’m playing a run on a hornpipe. Like the run on the Galway hornpipe. efe dcB ABA GFE. What would be the best strokes to use on that run. I’d play it like veufve udvcuB vAuBvA vGuFvE. Would that be the best way to do it. Thanks,

Re: Tenor Banjo strokes

You sound like you’re off to a good start, that’s the way a great banjo player I know does it. I adopted those picking paterns to my mandolin playing & found them helpful for the rhythm.

Re: Tenor Banjo strokes

My melody playing on the mandolin was also improved and much more stable when I got used to a more fixed plectrum pattern like DUD DUD for jigs. It seems like many - but not all - of the pros plays it that way

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Re: Tenor Banjo strokes

I’ve got Tony Sullivan’s (Sully’s) banjo tutors (books & video) and he plays jigs DUD DUD and reels DUDU DUDU. When changing from one string to another he prefers down strokes, so he does break the sequence. For polkas he suggests DD DD (if the bar contains 4 quavers/eights, only doing DU with semi-quavers/sixteenths. His instructions for the opening bar of the Glenbeigh Polka (E AA B A - 1/8 1/16 1/16 1/8 1/8) are D DU DD. This is not because all the notes (except B) are on the open string; he gives the same instructions for Bar 4 on the D string (G GG F# G).

Re: Tenor Banjo strokes

Ciaran Hanrahan insists on using DUDUDU consistently, whether for jigs, reels or whatever, claiming that patterns such as DUD DUD are ‘unnatural’. I more or less stick to the DUDUDU pattern on mandolin, although I find when I pay too much attention to my picking, it throws me off.

I would say that on a fast triplet passage in a hornpipe, DUDUDU would be the only way to get it flowing. In jigs, I think it is more a matter of taste. DUDDUD gives a stronger rhythm, whilst DUDUDU gives it a more flowing feel, and allows more freedom for left hand ornamentation.

Re: Tenor Banjo strokes

Havs any one heard of tenor banjo strings gauged at .015, .017W, .026W & .036 from N.Irel.
J. P

Re: Tenor Banjo strokes

I’d agree with David above, that paying too much attention to my picking only puts me off. My Tutor would cut my right hand off if i used anything other than DUD UDU. Like Kieran Hanrahan he says its "unnatural". I suppose if you can pay attention to your picking and it sounds better why not.
Buying a Banjo shortly. Would you recommend yours?(playing mandolin at the moment)

Re: Tenor Banjo strokes

Hi Celtic1234,
I use a Tom Cussen Pearl Banjo. They are pretty good when a new set of strings are on them but the A string or the 17 gauge has to be wound otherwise you get a real metally sound. Then again if kept using a plan string and the metally sound is starting to go away. I will give them one thing and that is the action in really good compared to other banjos. They’ll cost you though. You might have to order one if you want new one, he has some old one’s up there too with are okay. I paided 1500 Euro for mine.
With the banjo strokes I’m at the stage now that I don’t even notice I using DUDDUD. It pays off believe me. Use DUDUDUDU for reel and you’ll be playing like Gerry O’ Connor after a few months. I stick to that partern strickly when playing reel and it work out perfect because all the on beats come a on a down strokes and that is handy when your throwing in double stops. Can you picture doing a double stop on an off beat and with a up stroke. Starting off with a mandolin is perfect because your triplets really get fast ans when you play a banjo you’ll be pretty good. It will be a little hard on your fingers though playing a banjo after coming of a madolin. Does any one know what strokes Gerry O’ Connor uses?

Re: Tenor Banjo strokes

I’ve been doing DUD DUD for a few months now and although it is automatic, I can assure you that I don’t sound at all like Gerry O’Connor!!! His book is not very clear, but he seems to be in the Kieran Hanrahan school. I’ll give DUD UDU (they sound like N. Irish political parties!) a go. My banjo is a 21" (17 frets) Tony Sullivan Session King. Cost around 1,200 sterling. My C (5th fret on G-string) is a bit dull but that is probably me (4th finger not strong enough). Currently I have it tuned CGDA, and the 5th fret sounds better. It also has a good mandolin-like sound when I put the capo across the 7th fret.

Re: Tenor Banjo strokes

Luke, let’s not bring politics into this!

As I said above, I stick *more-or-less* to the DUDUDU pattern - I’m too lazy and arrogant to study the ways of the masters. I’m not fully aware of what goes on with my pick hand, but I think I probably play successive strokes in the same direction for certain string crossings, and it seems to work. But what do people do after playing a triplet? Logically, if you follow the DUDUDU pattern, then after a triplet you’d flip over to UDUDUD, until the next triplet. C

Re: Tenor Banjo strokes

Luke I meant when you play DUDU DUDU on reels you’ll sound like Gerry O’ Connor. Plus play every triplet on a down stroke and the note that comes after it too. With the jigs I find when I changed to DUDDUD the tune sounded fuller. What works for me might not work somebody else. If you have the Gerry O’ Connor CD Myraid. I can play trip to Durrow at the same speed as him and believe me your strokes really have to come in to use then. With jigs DUDDUD can be used because jigs are not as fast as reels. I find that DUDUDU on jigs make them sound like they are being rushed. I’d never go back even if Cairan Hanrahan told me to.

Re: Tenor Banjo strokes

I listened to Trip to Durrow this afternoon. If you can play like that, you must be a natural talent. A great track on a great CD.

Re: Tenor Banjo strokes

Luke that’s the tune that made me pick up the banjo. My Brother bought the CD because he guitar. Once I heard it the hair stood up on the back of my next and I knew the banjo was for me. Gerry is the best tenor banjo player in the world if you ask me. Even though his style is a little bit weird he’s excellent. That tune never lets me do when I play the track. I listened to it about 5 times one night. I’m still trying to get the bit on the third part of the tune where he bends the f natural up the to f sharp. He bends from the eight fret on the A string. How do you think is number on in Ireland. Keiran Hanrahan is number two in my books. I got two lessons of this guy called Marcus Moloney and he is going to be someone to watch out for in the furture. He’s about 28 now and he won the most all Irelands on the banjo than anybody.Well that what he said. He is on a CD when he was 16 I think its called All Ireland Champions under 18’s.