Clawhammer Banjo?


Active Member
I can't seem to find any sampled banjo VIs out there for clawhammer style playing. If that's the case I'd like to offer some words of encouragement for niche developers.

I already have the Bolder Sounds Bluegrass Banjo (it's very good) and the Realitone one looks great as well. However I assume they are both sampled from typical bluegrass banjos with resonator backs and metal tone rings. This type of banjo is of course great for playing Scruggs style three-finger tunes (Dueling Banjos, Foggy Mountain breakdown, etc.), but clawhammer style is very different and uses a different type of open back banjo and players generally do not use metal finger picks.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about banjos, and not always a charitable one. I think of clawhammer as the 'una corda' or felt piano of banjo styles. It has a much more muted quality, which makes it an easier fit with vocals and other instruments (in my opinion). The unique playing style also employs very infectious integral rhythms along with with melody playing. For anyone interested please check this out:

About a year ago I tried to drum up some interest for a proper fiddle VI on this forum, and while I'm not taking any credit for it, there have indeed been some real fiddle VIs recently released and some more have been announced. This is awesome! So here's my attempt to get some similar interest in the clawhammer banjo!


Active Member
While you're waiting, check this thread:

It might suggest something that would be tolerable and available now.
Thanks! But nope, not even close. If I really had to produce a clawhammer style performance in a pinch, using an existing VI, I would try EQing and filtering either the Bolder Bluegrass or Realitone Banjo to approximate an open back, finger picked tone. I actually own a great 6 string ‘banjitar’ (bluegrass tone) and a vintage open back 5 string which is perfect for clawhammer. But I also love VI’s. With all the oddball instruments that have been sampled, there has to be a place for this staple instrument of Americana music.


Senior Member
I second your request for this. Every banjo library that I find is of the Bluegrass, resonator back, Scruggs style variety. I guess that's what the market wants, but I much prefer the sound of open back Clawhammer banjos. My current work around is the same as yours dflood (Bolder Sounds Bluegrass or Realibanjo, with EQ'ing and reverb).

Clawhammer sounds beautiful like this:
and would be far more suitable for doing something like this: than a bluegrass banjo.

There's also a number of other different and beautiful clawhammer banjo sounds I'd also like to hear sampled:
(also Open Back Clawhammer Style) Cello Banjo (before anyone says anything - I do have Modwheel's Bass banjo :) but it's much bassier than a cello banjo)

And fretless Mountain banjo:

I might have to take this project on myself if I can ever find the time.


Senior Member
Used to own an English cello banjo (well, they called it a bass banjo, and called what Americans would call a bass banjo contrabass banjos, but...) tuned CGDA. Only instrument I ever regret selling for reasons other than "if I'd held onto it for a few more years I would have sold it for more money", but I was moving across the ocean, so...

Now I live in a land where banjos practically don't exist, but I also agree that this is a good idea. Hell, look how well I've done with my absurdly niche guitar. Retro is in, using odd instruments in indie music is in...


Perpetual Novice
I would try EQing and filtering either the Bolder Bluegrass or Realitone Banjo to approximate an open back, finger picked tone.
In addition to EQ, I would also try using a transient shaper to reduce the volume of the attack and metallic pick noise.