The Cluck

by Wilson Harwood, Banjo, Uke, Guitar and Bass Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Wilson Harwood, Banjo, Uke, Guitar, Bass Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Wilson Harwood

It has been a great pleasure and somewhat frustrating task to learn the cluck.  Until a month ago I didn’t even know what the cluck is.  For those of you who are also wondering what the cluck is I will give you my own definition.  The cluck is a technique used by claw-hammer/old time banjo players.  It is used as a percussive accent where the players uses the nail of the middle finger to strike a string and then immediately stop the string with the index finger nail resulting in a resonant “cluck.”  Those last two sentences are much easier written than performed. The cluck is not easy and I have had trouble creating the perfect resonance each time. With some steady practice you to can cluck!

If you are starting out learning the cluck, bring your middle and index finger together so they are touching. Next put your index finger slightly behind your middle finger so that it is touching the underside  of you middle finger.  Now strike the middle G string with the outside of your middle finger nail and let your index finger follow through and stop the sound of the string. If done correctly you will get a loud resounding “cluck.”  Practice this method slowly and deliberately at first and then work in the frailing pattern.  The cluck replaces the strum or “dit” when you frail.

Below are some helpful resources to learn more about the cluck:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy2iCyrsqr0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdXbQkeC2h8&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVqWF_FC554&feature=related

And some more descriptions on clucking:

http://zeppmusic.com/Clearhead/cluck.htm

http://www.ehow.co.uk/info_8390566_playing-techniques-clawhammer-banjo.html

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