Banjo Advice / Left hand muting
Dear Banjoteacher.com: I recently purchased a Tennessee Crafters banjo and it has great sound. I am struggling with my left hand muting/interfering with the 4th string. The neck is (apparently) narrower than my previous banjo and the 4th string is very close to the lower edge of the neck. Is this something I might be able to adjust with a new nut, or is it just lazy left hand technique?
Thanks for help on this.
I can't say for sure on the adjustments, but from what you wrote, the difficulty you are having vamping or muting the strings while playing backup may in fact be lazy left hand technique, or better put, lack of focus and practice on the left or fretting hand, and then added difficulty adjusting to a new neck size.
My best advice is to take your picks off and give that left hand a workout and get loose, it just takes practice, but banjo players are usually too interested in picking to work at left hand techinique enough. For instance, guitar is much harder on the left hand and there are plenty of people who can play the guitar, they practice the left hand more. Frankly, theyaren't as busy with picking and tab reading to neglect it.
I've been taking a slightly heavier handed approach on this with students regarding left hand technique advice, first because these things matter to me and I want to help.
From students at my workshops I really hear a lot of, "I can't do it" on the left hand stuff, which is bringing out the coach in me, I want to blow a whistle and say drop and give me twenty scales and get those darn fingers to respond! :) you know what I mean though, get started and work at it...a lot!. I really think in most cases it's simply lack of practice time devoted to improving the left or fretting hand.
Never take any hard coaching from anyone to heart, any good teacher of any subject that cares, sometimes needs to tell it like it is if they sincerely want students to improve.
Thanks again, Ross N.
PS: You inspired me to fix some tabs, give me another hour.
I'm updating tabs on the free tabs page at the members site
BTW: Tennessee crafters are really good banjos, good choice.