Greetings from big sky country! I have been frailing for about 6 months now. Positively in love with the YouTube videos and website! The daily frail with Patrick is now a big part of my day! Thank you!
Anyhow, having trouble mastering the drop thumb technique. Any pointers? Follow up question: is drop thumbing truly necessary? Seems to this novice frailer to be more style than substance.
Ps which of your books is a must read for guy like me? Want to buy one. Which one should I start with?
Dear Old Dad and I have covered drop-thumb more than a few times over the years.
That should give you some instructional stuff to work with.
Is drop-thumb necessary? That is really a matter of opinion. Your best bet is to learn the technique and use it however you see fit.
Do I use drop-thumb? Not often. in my opinion the technique has become the Dogs Playing Poker of old time banjo.
On one hand, Dogs Playing Poker is a fun series of paintings. They have a kitschy kind of charm.
On the other hand, Dogs Playing Poker has been so overused in decorative items as a symbol of American bad taste that the sixteen paintings do not even qualify as a novelty item anymore. We have seen too many of these paintings in too many situations of forced whimsy or nostalgia. The end result of that overexposure we are desensitized to the images. They are no longer cute, funny, offensive or anything else. They simply exist – which is the worst thing that can happen to art.
It is the same with drop-thumb. The technique itself can be useful and sometimes beautiful, but it has been so overused, overemphasized and over-hyped that it has lost nearly all of its impact. With all of the weird fakelore and online pontificating surrounding the technique lately I get the sinking feeling that using drop-thumb has become more a matter of knuckling under to peer pressure than an artistic choice – which is the worst thing that can happen to an artist.
Do you need to learn drop thumb? Yes – but start out using the technique as a rhythmic variation before you start using it for melody notes. As you develop your skills you can at some point make a logical rather than emotional decision concerning where, when and how you use the technique.
To answer your question about my books, all of them are freely available under Creative Commons Licenses. You can find links to all of them here. Use the free stuff for a while and then decide for yourself which is a must-read.