Ragging The Scale Classic Fingerstyle Banjo

The 1915 Edward. B. Claypoole composition Ragging the Scale was recorded by Fred Van Eps on Classic style banjo in 1916.

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Comment by thereallyniceman on January 18, 2013 at 20:26

AS a relief from blowing my nose, coughing and generally feeling sorry for myself after by recent ‘flu, I got the banjo out and carried on with a project that Steve Harrison and myself started before Christmas.


I wanted to find a banjo score for a 1915 Edward. B. Claypoole composition that was recorded by Fred Van Eps in 1916, but I couldn’t, so thought I would transcribe by listening to the recording.  We had the piano score in C, but Fred played in G, and didn’t really follow the score anyway!!


I have now finished the score and added it to the MUSIC LIBRARY. I apologise if there are errors… but YOU try listening to Van Eps playing and then write down which finger, note and strings he is playing !!!  It was a real challenge.


I have recorded a video and I got some parts correct, but lack of practice has produced a  rather raggy performance of “Ragging the Scale”.


Scales can be fun and this piece is great to play. I have added a load of fingering to my transcription, but there will be other ways to play it. It certainly challenges the LH pinky finger !!


You can download the score directly from here:


RAGGING THE SCALE  as played by Fred Van Eps

Comment by Mike Moss on January 18, 2013 at 20:33

That's one scary score! Great performance, you and Steve did a great job on the transcription!

Comment by Richard William Ineson on January 19, 2013 at 11:10

I have never played this one, but it looks pretty formidable. The van Eps score is probably available via the ABF.

Comment by marc dalmasso on January 19, 2013 at 11:49

A " modern " tune which do not seems easy to play  ; bravo ian ;

Comment by Eric STEFANELLI on January 25, 2013 at 13:00

Just really nice to ear this tune performed by the great Fred, and played by you, i know this kind of tune is not easy to play and  " je tire mon chapeau" to the player. Fred wasn't really  never following any scores, he just studied the tune and adapt it to his own method of playing, he said about  his own fingering , "i use only  Thumb/index/middle, in fordwarded motion, i never use another motion, and it's quite enough to play well"(interview recorded at train station by Green, for the radio at the end of  the 1950's)...by this way Fred was able to play  about 14 notes per second !!!... That's really blow my mind !
 Thank for the scores in the scale of C. !

Comment by Eric STEFANELLI on January 25, 2013 at 13:13

Ouuupps !

I was saying : Thanks for the score in the scale of G of courses !!!

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