Comment by thereallyniceman on August 2, 2014 at 12:48

Thanks Joel,

Paul Cadwell was a great player. I believe that he was  born in New Jersey and, when he was a child, began taking banjo lessons from Fred Van Eps.... lucky man!  Maybe that explains the Van Eps banjo that he is playing.

I can't really tell if he is using his fingernails, but it sounds like it. One thing I do notice, and don't like much, is that he flails his RH fingers about a lot when picking the strings. I was taught over here in the UK, to be as economical as possible with finger movements, only bending from the centre joint of the finger where possible. This was to increase the speed of picking, as it is easier, and quicker, to play a lot of notes if you don't have to wait for the fingers to get back ready to pick the next string!!  It is similar to only lifting the LH fingertips very slightly off the strings between notes and not flailing them around either!!

All this said, it didn't seem to slow Mr. Cadwell down much did it? !!  :-)

Comment by Joel Hooks on August 2, 2014 at 13:19

I think he is just nervous.

The 2nd part of this video he fumbles through "Ragtime Episode"... then he kills the trio!

The complete opposite if what I do.  Not that I can play anything near what Cadwell does.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwzxL537EPg

Comment by Trapdoor2 on August 2, 2014 at 15:20

Wow, very cool videos. From the few close-ups, I don't think he is using fingernails (at least, not long ones). His appear to be trimmed short.

He does flap his RH fingers about a lot. Still, he plays quite nicely and is obviously a fine player with a lot of experience. That he has some uneconomical movements says more about how we're all different than anything else. Some folks' fingers just won't bend or operate the same as you and me...but the job gets done!

I also like how he moves his RH along the strings to get different tonalities, effects and dynamics. Well done there...something that many players never "get".

Comment by thereallyniceman on August 2, 2014 at 15:35

Trapdoor2 said:

also like how he moves his RH along the strings to get different tonalities, effects and dynamics. Well done there...something that many players never "get".

I get it for "tonalities" (correct word?) and effects but not for dynamics!

I just hammer it out.

My bad !!

:-(

Comment by Joel Hooks on August 2, 2014 at 16:07

Notice the razor thin ebony bridge?  That is how  Van Eps was setting them up.  I watched the full episode and he says the banjo is one of the last Van Eps made in 1951.  He also says he is using fishing line for strings.

I made up a super thin ebony bridge for my Eastman (used in the most recent videos) and it is a power house.  I plan on trying some other woods I have pieces of like cocobolo.  

Comment by thereallyniceman on August 2, 2014 at 16:52

I often wondered how an ebony bridge, in place of maple, would sound...

Anyone tried these "really" hard woods?

Comment by Trapdoor2 on August 2, 2014 at 18:01

I tried an ebony bridge years ago...but it was exactly the same dimensions as a standard "Snuffy Smith" bridge and therefore quite heavy. It made the banjo sound more like a guitar...and I didn't like it. However, if one really cut it down thin and light...why not?

 

How much does your thin ebony bridge weigh, Joel?

Comment by Joel Hooks on August 2, 2014 at 21:04

The bridge is on the banjo and the triple beam is at my work.

This blurry photo will have to do for now.  This was my first attempt. I cut it a little too wide, also the notches are not completely even.  The equipped version is crafted neater.  It came out to about 3 32nd of an inch thick at the top.  As I experiment, I'll go thinner.  For now that is on the back burner as the Hooks' estate is being packed and my shop boxed up.  

One thing I have been doing lately is "hand finishing" bridges.  Most manufactures offerd this option as a premium-- SSS, Fairbanks, etc..

The bottom bridge was just one in a box (yes, I do make up various styles of bridges for fun and have a box of them-- don't you?), again, not the cleanest example.  I take a standard square cut bridge, stick it in a vice, and go over it with a disposable emery board.  I always keep these on hand for finish sanding small bits.  The legs get rounded as does all but the part with notches.

It is likely in my head, but I think is sharpens up the tone ever so slightly while keeping the bottom end.  It also looks nice.  At any rate, it is an easy mod that look cool.

The ebony looks fantastic on a Whyte Ladyie model banjo.

Comment by Joel Hooks on August 2, 2014 at 21:07

Ahem, that would be vise that I put the bridge in.

Comment by OK-4 on August 3, 2014 at 6:24
I have an old ebony bridge that I picked up in a batch of old parts. Not sure how old. The long section is very thin and tapered on the underside, sort of like an airplane wing. It seems that workmanship went in to making it. It works great.

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