Weeks Music Store
1644 S. Ash St.
Buffalo, MO 65622
(417) 345-4140


The banjo can be played in several styles and is used in various forms of music.
American old-time music typically uses the five-string open back banjo.
It is played in a number of different styles, the most common of which are called clawhammer or frailing,
characterised by the use of a downward rather than upward motion when striking the strings with a fingernail.
Frailing techniques use the thumb to catch the fifth string for a drone after each strum or twice in each action ("double thumbing"),
or to pick out additional melody notes in what is known as "drop-thumb."
Pete Seeger popularised a folk style by combining clawhammer with "up picking", usually without the use of fingerpicks.

Bluegrass music, which uses the five-string resonator banjo almost exclusively, is played in several common styles.
These include Scruggs style, named after Earl Scruggs; melodic, or Keith style; and three-finger style with single string work,
also called Reno style after Don Reno, legendary father of Don Wayne Reno.
In these styles the emphasis is on arpeggiated figures played in a continuous eighth-note rhythm.
All of these styles are typically played with fingerpicks.

While the five-string banjo has been used in classical music since the turn of the century,
contemporary and modern works have been written for the instrument by Béla Fleck,
Tim Lake, George Crumb, Modest Mouse, Jo Kondo, Paul Elwood, Hans Werner Henze (notably in his Sixth Symphony),
Beck, J.P. Pickens, Peggy Honeywell, Norfolk & Western,The Avett Brothers and Sufjan Stevens.

The shorter-necked tenor banjo, which also has four strings and is also typically played with a plectrum,
became a popular instrument after about 1910. Early models used for melodic picking typically
had 17 frets on the neck and a scale length of 19 1/2 to 21 1/2 inches. By the mid-1920's,
when the instrument was used primarily for strummed chordal accompaniment,
19-fret necks with a scale length of 21 3/4 to 23 inches became standard.


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