Developing Your Right Hand

Lets do a quick right hand technique. The ring finger plants onto the head of the banjo, and the index, middle and thumb play the strings. Generally Scruggs style is played with finger and thumb picks for a cleaner, fuller sound. Heres an example of what that should look like. The hand is supported by the ring finger. The pinky finger sticks next to the ring finger.

This will feel awkward starting off. After all, it’s modeled after someone whose broken hand healed badly. Practice will get you past this awkwardness. With enough practice this hand posture will feel natural. There are a couple of ways to make the posture feel natural.

The easiest of these is just holding your hand in the correct position, with your ring finger on a flat surface. Just hold your hand there until it starts to feel a little more natural. Your ring finger and wrist should have a slight bend to them. If you pick up your hand, it should be floppy. Just put very light pressure on your ring finger, the weight of your hand.

As soon as you feel comfortable doing this, try picking strings with your picks on. This will all feel very unnatural at first, but after enough practice it will come naturally. At first only practice on your banjo to get the proper spacing. After you feel comfortable with the spacing of the strings, you can practice this anywhere there is a flat surface. When I was learning I would play on my desk during lectures. At the start you might get some silly looks, but they’ll all be jealous when you can play proficiently on the banjo.

I’m sure that some of you are curious about speed. After all, the banjo is renowned for its speed, thanks to the 5th string. Speed comes with practice. If you rush through the basics you will develop bad habits, and these bad habits will end up hampering you in the long run. Speed comes with practice. Want to get faster? Practice more. I sound like a broken record, but the worn adage is true. Practice makes perfect.


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