Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Some Guitar Players Are Frammers

My life in appalachia guitar players who are framers

Did you know some guitar players are frammers? I didn’t-until I overheard an elderly gentleman in Haywood County say the following:

Lots of people think they’re guitar pickers and a lot of them can play but a lot of them are nothing but frammers. I mean they don’t know how to really play a guitar.

I couldn’t wait to look for the word frammer in my Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English. The dictionary has 2 entries for fram:

  • fram verb to beat or strike. 1953 Wilson Folk Speech NC 548 = to whip, beat: “He frammed the old feller pretty good.”
  • fram pole noun 1953 citation. 1952 Wilson Folk Speech NC 542-53 = a weapon; a stick or some other object with which to beat one. “Goin’ a get me a fram-pole and beat you up.”

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary states the word fram means to beat or whip and is of unknown origin.

The gentleman I overheard used the word frammer to mean-a lot of people pretended to know how to play the guitar when they really don’t.

I’ve heard the remark “he just beats on that ole guitar” more than a few times. After reading the definitions of fram I can see where one could jump from using beat in connection to playing a guitar to fram in connection to playing a guitar.

I’ve never heard frammer-fram-or fram pole used before have you? I like the word frammer-I can’t wait to use it the next time I see someone acting like they’re an expert at something they actually know nothing about.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.



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  • Reply
    January 6, 2013 at 11:04 am

    I used to play guitar well enough, but my approach to cooking might be something along the lines of framming. Hit or miss.

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    January 4, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Tipper, this is one of your vocabulary words I have heard. Framming on a guitar is familiar to me. Never heard of a fram pole however.

  • Reply
    January 4, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Love it! Definitely a new word for me and can think of so many uses for it! I’m pretty much a frammer myself!

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    January 3, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Never heard it-but know it when I see it!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    Fram is my new favorite word, thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    January 3, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    OHHH, so that’s what that was,, I knew there had to be a more PG rated name for it,,,

  • Reply
    Bob Dalsemer
    January 3, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Been there, done that! Hopefully I’ve gotten better.

  • Reply
    Mike Echols
    January 3, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Here im Mississippi we say “frail”!
    as in- somebody needs to take a frail-pole to that feller!!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I’ve know several frammers, not knowing that was the word for them.

  • Reply
    January 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Donna-me too : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Barry Upward
    January 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    I often wondered when someone played the guiter like it had been bad and was now been punished was called that must be it…..FRAMMING

  • Reply
    January 3, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I’ve never heard of frammering
    either. If frammering applied to
    a piano, I’d probably be guilty.
    I use to bang on one of those.
    One thing for sure though, Paul
    sure ain’t no frammer. He’s the
    best guitar player I’ve ever heard…Ken

  • Reply
    January 3, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Yep! I’ve heard plenty of frammin’ on a guitar. Mostly it means somebody who knows a few chords but not enough single notes like the alternating bass strings so s/he just plays the full chord for each of the beats in the measure. Obviously, this does not apply to any of your kin!
    Frammin’ a banjer is hard to do but some people manage to never progress enough to keep from it.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    January 3, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I’ve heerd the old rascal down the road aways complain of not gettin’ any work. For the youngin’ in the next holler always is tellin’ the boss he frammed up a whole house by hisownself.
    The other fram, I never heerd…
    Thanks Tipper,
    Put that’n in the margins of yore Smoky Mountain Anglish book!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Fram is a new word for me. Maybe it is a local use word. However, I am pronouncing it with a short a since it doesn’t have a vowel at the word’s end to make it long. I hope I am correct. Anyway, thanks for the new word – I am not a frammer, however.

  • Reply
    Tim Hassell
    January 3, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Frams me. This makes me think of an old friend of mine, who was an immigrant from Italy. She would have said “I think to myself, what means this word fram?” Ya’ll have a great day.

  • Reply
    Marylou Sweat
    January 3, 2013 at 10:02 am

    My husband is a guitar picker but has had some close friends who were absolutely frammers…and that’s how we referred to them. They would get together and jam…they had a little band and various players would sit in at different times. I always looked forward to my husbands picking as oppposed to their framming. Marylou in Dover, Fla.

  • Reply
    Sallie aka granny Covolo
    January 3, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Great word. Tipper. I will try to add it to my vocabulary.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    January 3, 2013 at 9:26 am

    I had never heard the word until I met my sweet wife from upstate SC. I was teasing her once and she said she was going to fram the h#% out of me if didn’t stop! I tease her from a distance now!

  • Reply
    grandpa Ken
    January 3, 2013 at 8:58 am

    I have heard an old carpenter use fram. He used it like this {a piece would not go and he might tell his helper I’ll hold it you fram the H— out of it it’ll get in then}. Some carpenter use hard words sometimes sorry.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    January 3, 2013 at 8:49 am

    “Frammer” and “fram pole” were both new words to me! Thanks for informing us! I’m sure, if we are honest, we can apply “frammer” to many things we do–pretending we really know how, but inside we fear our sham and supposed-expertise will be found out! This quotation from Henry Ford seems to go along quite well with frammer: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.”

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 3, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Never heard that word used in any context. I have, however, seen it done.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    January 3, 2013 at 7:24 am

    I have heard frail in the context of banjo playing, meaning a style of hard strumming and little picking. But fram is new to me and a good one.

  • Reply
    Donna W
    January 3, 2013 at 7:10 am

    I confess. I’m a frammer.

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