Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Tone Clarity UTN

Hi @BanjoBen Can you offer any tips on improving tone clarity up-the-neck

So I am currently working on one of John Hartford’s licks from a closed position. I am barring the first two strings at the 7th fret with the index finger, middle finger on the 3rd string 8th fret. ring finger stretched across the fingerboard on the 5th string at the 9th fret. Arpeggio picking pattern 231 515 1 (1st string is fretted at the 10th with pinky. ) 5th string fretted at the 9th then lift pinky play 123

I seem to have my fingers placed correctly, all close to the fret wire, fingers don’t appear to be touching other strings. picking seems clean enough yet the strings don’t ring out as I might expect.

Anything you could suggest to improve tone clarity would be welcomed.


It’s been years since I’ve taken calculus!


Archie, are you moving away from the bridge slightly with your right hand? Every note has a “sweet spot” for tone. Usually higher note need more distance from the bridge for a more ringing tone.

Notice how of you play anything too close to the bridge is has lack of sustain and thinner tone (ralph Stanley)

Hi Dave, Yes I 've tried several pick hand positions. I think the problem is with the fretting hand, The lick is played over an unusual shape in that the ring finger comes over to fret the fifth string at the 9th fret. I am also working on Ben’s Eighth of January Lesson which has some similarity fretting the 5th string and 4th string although using the pinky in this case to fret these strings.

I’d have to see a pic or video of what’s going on for me to offer any potential help, sorry!

I think I have isolated the problem. It seems to be the bar across the first three strings. I can’t seem to get a clear tone no matter how hard/lightly I press. I guess I’ll just have to live with it.