Right Hand Tips & Speed Exercises

In this video, I go over right-hand tips that will help you instill EFFICIENT MOTION in your fingers. In addition, I cover SPEED EXERCISES that you’ll find useful if you’re struggling to get more BPM out of your right-hand fingers. These tips include practicing finger sprints, correct motion, and more:

Right-Hand Tips for Banjo

1)Efficiency of motion

You must make sure your fingers are returning to the strings quickly with as little motion as possible. An exercises you can do to help with this is to pluck the string and then immediately try to stop the string from ringing with the same finger. This is training you to return to the string very quickly. Try it with all of your fingers, you can even do it with your thumb. The speed of your fingers is largely determined by how quick they can get back to the string.

2)Speed Bursts

You want to become the Usain Bolt of the banjo? Well, time to do some SPRINTING. Basically, play a roll slow and then quickly play a burst of 3-4 notes. Instead of trying to play an entire song or entire roll, you’re limiting yourself to only playing a few notes fast. This allows you to get used to the feeling of playing fast without sustaining tension in your hand. Think of a runner training to become a sprinter, he has to work on getting out of the hole, a fast take-off if you will. As you play through these sprints, pay close attention to any tension within your hand, try the best you can to RELAX.

3)Don’t slap at the strings

This causes excess string noise. Your fingers should not look like they are jumping hurdles nor extend way past the strings. Once again, the more motion you have, the less speed you’ll have. Not to mention the detrimental effect on your tone. Listen or record yourself while playing, how much string noise do you hear? Chirps? Scrapes? These are all signals your swing may be too wide.

4)Don’t swing your thumb in wide circular motions.

This is excess motion you don’t need. Your thumb is attached at your wrist. Visualize your thumb falling from this place via gravity. This allows relaxation and the ability to bounce right back to where it began from. Banjo is largely THUMB DRIVEN, so, in order to play fast, you MUST have a fast thumb.

5)Don’t hit the head with your fingerpicks or thumbpicks

You don’t want this sound, especially as you play faster and faster. It creates a drag on your fingers, slowing you down, not to mention the negative tone consequences. You can often SEE if you’ve done this over time, look for black or scrape marks on the banjo interior just under the strings. If you scrape the thumbpick, you’ll see marks above the fifth string.


Maybe you want to jump into some left hand SPEED TIPS? HERE YOU GO:


Jody Written by:

Professional Musician of 27 years. I've played Banjo and Acoustic Guitar on the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Grand Ole Opry, and The Ryman Auditorium. I've also played in six different countries.


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