Ive never been able to develop a decent tremelo,any tips?

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Comment by Jody Stecher on June 5, 2012 at 4:34

1) there have been detailed discussions of the various tremolo techniques on this site. Do a search for "tremolo" (spelled that way) and you'll find quite a bit about the pros and cons of the various techniques and some technical talk as well.

2) which ever technique you decide upon, there's a technique I've been trying out myself and giving to students with much success in plectrum tremolo on non-banjos (mandolin, oud, etc) that is 100% transferable to finger style banjo tremolo: first play 2 strokes. then 3. Then 4. Then 5. Stop after each number and repeat a few times. Then 6, 7, 8, and 9. After that you can go on forever. Start at a moderate speed. Rapidness and control of starting and stopping tremolo comes remarkably quickly using this technique.

Comment by Mike Moss on June 6, 2012 at 10:39

The most effective method for me was to choose a not-too-ambitious amount of twiddles per measure, usually 6 strokes per crotchet which gives 18 strokes per measure in 3/4 time, which is more or less the rate I followed when playing "Butterfly", so I played 3 twiddles (3 up strokes + 3 downstrokes) for every crotchet, 9 for a dotted minim, 6 for a minim.

I have found that I can keep up at this rate for about 5 minutes, whereas I can only manage faster tremolos for a considerably shorter period of time.

Also, I have found that finding the best right hand angle is crucial -- you want to make sure your index finger travels as little as possible, and my favourite position is to rest the thumb against the head and the 5th string and pronate the hand, with the index finger pointing backwards.

This position also works for finger wiggle + arpeggios, which I can manage at the aforementioned rate.

Comment by skip sail on June 6, 2012 at 12:46

an excellent description of how to twiddle your crotchet with the thumb against the head whilst pronating the hand. Illegal in some countries,no doubt. (:

Comment by Mike Moss on June 6, 2012 at 12:48

If they try to arrest you for public lewdness you can just claim you were playing your imaginary banjo!

Comment by skip sail on June 6, 2012 at 12:56

 Hah! Although I am an exceptionally good imaginary banjo player,my real world skills are sadly lacking,your tremolo tips are greatly appreciated.

Comment by Jody Stecher on June 6, 2012 at 16:03

A variant of the single finger tremolo method is to use the middle finger instead of the index. This works better for my hand and I never get tired or hurt whereas index tremolo is hard to keep up without discomfort.  A variant of the two finger method is in place of index and middle to use thumb and index or thumb and middle. 

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