Over the years we have had numerous discussions (arguments) regarding alternate fingering, and particularly which finger to start with, on the Classic Style of playing on 5 string Banjo.

...Well it seems that the discussion was around from when Adam was a lad, and here is an article from the December 1931 BMG magazine.  Any way, even then it seems that alternate fingering was regarded as compulsory!!  (click image to expand)

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I find myself alternating thumb and index on scale runs, even on the first string, and I was gratified to read elsewhere (an old BMG article) that Joe Morley does the same, with the occasional use of the middle finger when necessary, i.e. when the thumb has to play the fifth string, returning to thumb/index asap. But, some people find that really strange on anything other than the 4th string, and prefer alternating index and middle after that. Whatever gets the job done. But when playing slower music, I often find myself repeating, say, the index finger, or middle. 

As fingerstyle playing on the banjo developed in 19th century, there were a number of alternatives discussed, with Converse even suggesting all four fingers and thumb...

Bickford was a sensible man when it came to playing string instruments. This is the first sensible explanation I have heard for starting with the thumb on open C.  To me it seemed like yet another Rule Not To Be Questioned.  

Whoops, that's not what I meant. I  meant for starting with the index (for not starting with the thumb).  

Jody Stecher said:

Bickford was a sensible man when it came to playing string instruments. This is the first sensible explanation I have heard for starting with the thumb on open C.  To me it seemed like yet another Rule Not To Be Questioned.  

I use whatever is the most comfortable. Sometimes my porky fingers don’t like thumb and index so I use thumb and middle finger..

Bickford ' secret wasn  ' t the fingering , but the strings he used to put on his banjo ; they look like the ones used on a U- Bass  …….. he had an explosive ' sound …………….

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