Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Push offs and pull offs

Something I’ve been trying to master since i began 18 months ago and still cannot get them consistent. When I watch Ben and other people doing them it looks as if no effort is put into it. For some reason I am struggling. The push offs I seem to handle a little better than the pull offs. I have pretty thin fingers and I find on the pull offs to an open string I either don’t grab enough so you hardly hear anything, or too much and kind of snap off the string hitting another on the way. Any help on what I may be doing wrong?

Left hand / right hand timing is everything for it to sound right. Can you make it sound right when pushing off / pulling off at a slow tempo? If so, then it’s just a matter of practicing at that speed until it feels natural and then slowly speeding up.

If you can’t even get it at a slow speed, it could be your fret hand angle or grip. It could be that you’re applying too much / too little pressure. In any of these cases, posting a video of yourself playing would help us get a better idea of where the problem might be.


Hi Jon

Patience, Practice and Perseverance. We all struggled with push offs and pull offs when we started. It takes a while to grow callouses. If you care to post a video we can check to see if your doing things right. Ben is having surgery this week so he may not be available to reply in person but there’s enough experienced students here to advise and encourage you.

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This is just a thought. If you’ve got some good finger callouses, you can let them do some of the work for you. I think Ben explains this in the Hop Skip and Jump video.

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They are tough to get a grip on, but you can do it! Like has been mentioned, please post video of your left hand attempting the techniques and that will really help me to help you. Thanks!

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OK will do. How do I post a video on this forum? Can I upload or do I need to post just a link to a YouTube video?
Thanks all for the encouragement.
I seem to be struggling a little more since I got my gold star banjo. I think my cheaper Asian banjo had maybe a slightly wider neck. Or maybe the frets are worn down a bit on my gold star. I have a feeling they may have been dressed and are a bit lower than they originally were. However it may just be a case of ‘A poor workman always blames his tools’ and I just need to practise more.

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As long as your video is short (around 30-45 seconds) you can usually upload it to the video swap forum. If the file is too big, I just use my YouTube account and link it there.

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I use youtube.