Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Discuss the Banjo lesson: How to Play Pull-Offs

Pull-offs are rad. You should know how to do them. Now you can.

Nice lesson. I never considered pulling off downward with the exception of the d string where there isn’t anything to get in the way. Pulling off downward always seemed like it increased the possibility of touching and muting the next string in the roll. Anyway, I’ve got some work to do to polish up that technique.

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So for closed pull offs, are you always putting down both finger to start? Such as in the ending lick when you are coming from another open string, are you placing down your L hand index and middle finger simultaneously, or the middle finger on the 3rd fret slightly before the index, picking, then pulling off as you place the index down on the second fret?

Hey Patrick! Welcome to the board!

If you’re just starting out, it might be best to place both fingers down at the same time. As you progress, you’ll think about it less and less, and the timing of the finger placement may naturally adjust.

This is a skill you really want to nail down before moving on too much more. Kick-offs are an integral part of pretty much every type of banjo playing, and really good pickers get 2 distinctive notes out of each one. I sometimes still struggle and will practice a kick off roll over and over until I can get it sounding right again.

So over time it will not be completely at the same time, but a slight separation?

I learned elsewhere to not put two down at once, and it led to me hitting road block on this technique so I like this approach better, as it creates a better anchor for that distinct two notes which I wasn’t getting prior.

And yes, such a fundamental move! Hence my question so I can nail it down! Thank you

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For me, I just don’t even think about it any more. I’d have to pay attention to my playing to even tell you how I do it. You’ll eventually get to the same place by doing whatever works best for you.

Looking forward to seeing your progress.

Ben, I love the way you teach! Pull offs are my bane, but a bit at a time, you make it simple then you add a bit, add a bit, add a bit! Thanks for all the effort to put the site together - the lessons are excellent. My calluses are getting stronger too! Many thanks.