Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

(yet) Another push-off question

Regarding this very heavily used pull-off (or push-off):

So I can play this pretty ok since it’s so commonly used but every one I’ve seen do it where it sounds REALLY good and clean does basically a “flick” with their middle finger (almost like they are flipping the bird with their left hand) so I guess that would be considered a “push-off”?

When I do it I can’t quite get that flicking motion clean because I end up almost ALWAYS (even doing it real slow) hitting the 4th string with my left hand middle finger as I flick it. (and I even have a wide-neck banjo!)

Anyway, I have tried and tried to get it down like that but cannot seem to get past hitting the fourth string accidently.

I’ve gotten to the point where I just kind of gave up on doing it with that flicking motion but I want to try to nip that one in the bud earlier than later.

Any advice about how to do that one and avoid hitting the 4th string?

Don’t worry. I’ve still not mastered them yet myself either. It’s just practise and not forcing it too much I would say. Not to mention timing between the left and right hand. I watch loads of videos including Ben’s who annoyingly makes it all look too easy (just kidding Ben​:wink:) it’s trying to get that crisp note so you can hear the lick without it sounding muffled or just lost or as you say, flicking so hard you hit another string. Your at the best place anyway. Dunno what any of us would do without such a great teacher as Ben. (No he didn’t pay me to say that) :laughing: Keep practising buddy…hopefully we will all get there in the end.

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I love that like when it’s done right. If you can’t get it to sound right even at slower speeds, my first thought is that maybe your left hand position might be off. You want to cradle the neck in the web between your index finger and thumb. Does that sound like how you position your left hand? You might even want to take a picture or short video of your left hand and post it so folks can make suggestions.

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Yes, please take a short video of you playing, or attempting to play it, and post. I bet there’s something in your form that I can fix to help you.

Ok, I recorded a couple vigias… the first one is how I am currently doing those 3-2 pull-off/push-offs… for me I guess if I was to analyze how i’m doing it, i’d call it more of a “reverse hammer-on??” because I think I’m basically hammering on the 2nd fret simultaneous to lifting my middle finger off the 3rd fret (I simply lift my 3rd finger off the fret… I don’t push or pull the string with it). I can’t stop doing it that way!

The 2nd one is me trying to do the push-off “flick” kinda thing which I can’t seem to program my brain to do. And it’s hard to hear, but i do end up brushing the 4th string alot.

The way I’m currently going it:

Me trying to do a push-off:

Thanks for any suggestions!

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Scott, short answer is this: you’re right on track.

Those are great sounding ornaments. I know you’re wanting them to be crisper, but based on your current technique, the pop you’re desiring is on its way as you get stronger and more precise.

I’m not in the position right now to give you a good video response, but let me affirm that my push-offs often brush the 4th string just like yours, and I know of many professional players who do as well. I was imagining something much more obvious.

Some guys get that big crack/pop on the pull-off by letting their middle finger nail grow a bit and popping the string from the nail. That has become the modern sound. However, when you listen back to Earl/JD/etc., their pull-offs sound more like yours than what you hear modernly. You have nothing to be ashamed of, and they will get sharper as you get stronger and play more.

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Ok thanks for the response and it’s reassuring to hear it’s nothing major that I need to stress out about! I do tend to over-think everything and I’m not the most patient with myself :slight_smile:

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Hi Scott.

Try sliding 2-3 using your middle finger - as you reach the 3rd fret place your index finger on the second fret so you have two fingers on the string - push off with your middle finger towards the 4th string. Sometimes your middle finger will touch the forth string but with practice yu will soon learn how to avoid it.

For a Pull Off try sliding 2 -3 using your middle finger followed by the index as before but instead of using your middle finger try to use your ring finger pulling down toward the 2nd string remembering to keep the index finger on the second string at the 2nd fret then play an open 1st string with your middle finger.

I would use my ring finger to pull off the 3-2 lick in the illustration at the top of the page

I have to say it took me ages to learn to play it cleanly with a good snap. I still fluff it every now and then

Remember the three P’s Patience, Practice and Perseverance

Thanks! That’s an interesting idea. I just tried playing around with that concept and I think that might help since both fingers will already be on the fretboard and setup for the pull off! I guess the only issue I can see with that would be that if the song is slow then I’ll have my third finger held down on the 3rd fret until the pull off occurs which causes some dissonance. I guess in that case I can just lift them both up slightly and then back down.

Ring-middle finger pull-offs. I have yet to start working on those lol. Someday!

Hi Scott

It’s more about training the brain to do something it’ finds un-natural. Watching your top vid I can almost hear your brain telling your fingers that’s the way I (the brain) feels most comfortable. Many a time I have talked myself (out loud) and said not that way. Do it this way.

Slow it way down, do it step by step check every movement as you go, Then gradually speed up the action.

Start today, don’t put it off till tomorrow. Do it whilst it’s fresh in your thoughts. 30 mins and it’s stored in your memory

The movement is so brief it doesn’t happen even in a slow song. Slide - Pull OFf is a continuous action.

Also later on your will learn to add the index finger to the first string second fret at the end of the slide to add variation.