Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Moving the left thumb to reduce muting adjacent strings

I notice that Ben’s thumb position on the back of the neck is constantly moving even when playing at the first fret position. (Obviously it needs to move up the neck for higher notes.) My thumb, other when using it on the E string, pretty much stays in one position. I am having difficulty with unintentionally muting adjacent strings. I wonder if the two are related. I would assume this depends upon the player’s hands. I wear XL gloves with slender fingers. My biggest challenge is consistent placement of the fingers on the strings with any speed at all - particularly the pinky. I play a Martin D28.

Great question. I’m trying to recreate what you describe (even using a D28!). My thumb doesn’t seem to move much unless I go to make a barre-type chord and need the thump for leverage. Can you perhaps post a link of where you see me do this?

I first noticed it in the Washed in the blood video (fantastic piece BTW). My thumb position is closer to where yours is for the barre-chord during most of my playing moving up to play the E string and then returning. At the 00:35 point of the preview it appears that the neck is positioned closer to the web of your hand between thumb and forefinger. I am probably overanalyzing but I have never seen any discussion regarding the thumb position… Love your site!!!

Ahhh, it is a bit easier for me to release that thumb to barre the first two strings at :33. After that I can play the next few seconds without moving my thumb. There is no real strategy there with my thumb, but that’s a good eye!