Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Rt hand troubles

I’m struggling to get to the root cause of my issue. First off I’m still trying to figure out if I am a two finger or one finger planted player. What is consistent between the. Both is the tendency to roll my hand back and touch or rest on the bridge. If I keep it slow and really focus on this I can kinda keep my hand up. The moment I just start playing and speeding up my hand wants to lay back. I’m debating gluing my hand but that seems silly. What can I do to break what surely is a bad habit? Thanks for the ideas in advance.

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Hey Brian. I think your situation is similar to what most banjo players experience at some point. I can only tell you what has worked for me over the years. Others will have their own suggestions which will certainly be worth considering.

Anchor fingers: I would suggest trying to plant two fingers on the drum-head, but if you can’t, many people do very well with only the pinky down. When I was an early beginner, I too, planted only my pinky, I also played with a very tense hand as I was often trying to go for Speed; a common pitfall of beginning banjo players… My right hand would actually become tired during practice and I would push my anchor fingers around the head which destroyed my accuracy and speed. You mentioned glue, well confession-time: I tried that too by using glue-stick on my drumhead to keep my anchor fingers from getting pushed around, but I found out quickly that my anchor fingers were getting pushed around because I was tensing-up my right hand way too much. It took me about a month of slowing down and rubber-bands tying my ring/pinky together to get both fingers down without thinking about it. I feel that it almost doubled my right-hand stability and helped my picking accuracy.

As for your hand-position rolling-back, might I suggest Banjo Ben’s “Foggy Mountain Lick” lesson? Other lessons might work, but the Foggy Mountain Roll is very easy to memorize and thus, you can spend time observing your right-hand position. You will find that you will have a certain maximum-speed without losing your correct hand position or before you start pushing around your anchor fingers. You might call this a Speed-Limit for now. Perform a one or two measure ‘loop’ so you can observe your right hand behavior while doing this. Do not exceed your speed-limit by sacrificing accuracy! Practice with a metronome and see what your speed limit is, and then use that as a reference, demanding proper right hand position and technique. Another trick I use, is to put headphones on and listen to a radio-show while picking that lick over and over demanding perfect right hand posture and relaxation. Try not to get too impatient, as the speed will come, and when it does, you will have the accuracy that comes along with it that will make you stand out as a banjo player. Good luck and HAPPY PICKING!

PS: It might help to submit a short video of your right hand position for maybe Banjo Ben to analyze. I am not an Instructor so I hesitant to make suggestions on hand-form or wrist arch etc… I only know, it’s not a good thing to rest your palm on the bridge, unless you really don’t have a banjo mute! :wink:

Hi Brian Welcome to @BanjkoBen 's Forum,. It may be a few days till Ben responds to your query he is not keeping too well at the moment. I would however encourage you to post a video to enable Ben see how best he can offer advice on your specific problem.

In the meantime check out the Banjo Hand Position lesson in the beginners learning track. Here is the intro to that lesson


Archie. That’s the perfect lesson for this question. Thanks!

Wow! This link could not have been referenced at a more perfect time.

I’ve spent the last week contemplating everything covered in this video. Forgot most of what’s in it, cause I haven’t viewed it for over a year. Can’t recommend enough that every banjo player review this.

I was even googling this matter, and I discovered that the famous pianist John Schaum permanently damaged his hand from trying to play with his middle and ring fingers moving independent of each other. Some of his students suffered the same fate.

Thanks to Ben for covering that part, and thanks to Archie for this link.

To all my fellow banjo players, please review this video. You’ll be glad you did.

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Neil, do you by any chance work at the John Deere plant in Kville? If so, I’m your neighbor.

I wish I did; then I could stop over and do some jamming with you guys! :wink: I work in the Product Engineering Facility in Waterloo, Iowa. This is the home of the largest production tractors in the U.S.A. While I do testing in Waterloo, I also travel to Lincoln, NE and Groß Umstat, Germany for Official test. Fun stuff right there!

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@Treblemaker its amazing the “little things” you forget to do after playing a while. (glad I watched Bens video again).
@brianvanhoosier773 as for your one or two finger plant, I personally have gotten used to just using my pinky and even that lays at a bit of an angle, you will just have to see what works the best for you, don’t get to caught up in one or two finger plant, just use whatever is comfortable for you.

That is a really great video. I learned stuff that I had forgot!

@brianvanhoosier773, I mentioned in the other thread, please upload a video of your right hand and we’ll get you going.

My ring finger has gotten to be a teenager and wants to do things on it’s own! I never had this issue before: I will start playing and something seems off when I suddenly realize my ring finger is doing the wave like at the ballpark!
Does it not realize it is part of the whole and needs to be focused on what is good for all?!


Ugh. I apologize for the delay here I have not been able to make a video that I can successfully get on this site. Ben if you could email me at my registered email. I would be happy to send it to you. I guess I’m technically challenged all over the place here

Thank you everyone for the great advise. I’m finding this to be a struggle between proper technique and comfort. I have a couple videos but have not been able to make one that the site will allow me to upload

I may have figured this video issue out. Here is a link to the Dropbox. Please let me know if this does not work.

Hi Brian

The best way to submit a video is to create a YouTube Channel. Upload your video to YouTube then post the link to the video in the Video Swap Forum.

@brianvanhoosier773, sorry for the delayed reply! It looks like yet another one has fallen victim to the false advice that everyone should anchor two fingers. I think you need to forget anchoring the ring and go with the pinky. Let the ring float as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the strings and let me know what you think. Regarding the angle, everything looks pretty good and please settle into what is comfortable…keep me posted.


Well isn’t that exciting! Thanks for the comment and advice Ben. I wondered about the second finger when I saw your video on RT hand placement and that you were a pinky guy because of the codependent ring finger. I have been forgetting about the ring and just watching to not lay on the bridge. Things are moving much more smoothly now. This is such a great forum of great people.

Banjo Ben community is the best!

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I can only anchor my pinky so wouldn’t sweat about it. I think it’s just a matter of time and picking slowly and correcting when you feel your hand rolling back. I still have problems sometimes where I feel my hand is just touching the bridge depending on what song I’m playing. Don’t worry, your hand will eventually find a correct comfortable position for YOU. I say you, as we are all different in what we find comfortable. We just have to try and avoid bad habits that may inhibit our progress. I’m trying to correct a slightly fly away middle finger when I’m picking. :stuck_out_tongue:
Great to have you aboard :+1:

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Yep. That danged issue. I went to Ben’s camp last week. The first thing he noticed about my right hand was that I was laying my pinky down sort of on its side. We chatted. That position drags your whole hand out of line in terms of getting a “square” shot at the strings. the face of the pick needs to come straight across the string. Ben pointed out that I was picking with the edge of the pick which deprived my banjo of tone and power. That night I went to Ben’s lesson on the right hand. It really helped. You will have to concentrate.

Go for it!


Awesome info Boo. I have been working diligently at this and it is getting better. Thanks for the info. Hope the camp was a good time.