Question: Pulling down or pushing up?
when i first learned to play i was taught to push off from 3-2 (third string) and have always done that but lacked consistency in sound- and sometimes my middle finger hits the fourth string such that i can hear it. i have the encyclopedia ( which is awesome) and you teach a pull off (3-2). i think it sounds better but i am so used to pushing that it is slow going right now. what do you recommend that i do ?
Answer from Ross Nickerson
Pushing and pulling produce basically the same sound. Some folks prefer pushing up, so even though my lesson described pulling towards the floor, I didn't mean to imply that is a better way of doing it. All the same principles apply whether you're pushing up or pulling down.
In your case, I would recommend that you find the option that seems easier for you and build on that. I prefer pulling down, but that is my personal preference. They both produce basically the same sound. In this case whether you push or pull is what's best, or more comfortable for the individual. Decide that, and then apply the same principles of how to improve it and do it properly.
Thanks, Ross Nickerson
PS: I'm referring to a previous Ask the Banjo Teacher letter, here's a link. 3-2-pull-offs
Follow up Question and Answer 4-18-05
my main problem was not fretting the second fret long enough before the push and now as i practice,
the pull. when i push i sometimes hit the fourth string and when i pull i sometimes hit the second string
( with my middle finger) pull is easier with ring finger but i'd rather not use that finger. now what's your
tip for 2-3h-3-2po which i think is harder that 2 hammer ons and a pull/push-off . i have a lot of practicing
to do to rid my self of the old way i used to pushoff. practice does not make perfect. practice makes
permanent. perfect practice makes perfect.. thanks for your help.
Answer from Ross Nickerson
Go to this link at the members site John. I think it explains what you want pretty well.
Another overall tip for you that may help you prioritize your practice or focus is:.
Your goal is for your banjo playing to flow, until you get these techniques where you want them.
I would play simpler slides or hammer-ons or even single notes in their place. You'd be amazed at
how good a tune can sound with out even one slide or pull off in it if you pick with good tone, in time,
steady and emphasize the melody. This should be your number one priority, the techniques will come,
if they aren't happening, come back to them and keep practicing picking steady with good tone, gaining
control of your picking and mastering chords and chord shapes.
Having never seen you play or worked with you this is pretty general, but this should be good advice not matter where your present skill level is.