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 Playing Advice: All Other Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Why do I need a pick?


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/333737

Aschmuckwithstrings - Posted - 08/18/2017:  14:30:10


Seriously, I keep finding people saying that I do need picks to play, but I'd rather play without. So, here's a chance for the pick people. Why do I need to use picks? 

Bill H - Posted - 08/18/2017:  14:35:55


There aren't any rules, just personal preferences.

Beardog - Posted - 08/18/2017:  14:38:02


You don't, unless you want to reproduce the sound of bluegrass/Scruggs style or anything else that uses picks as part of the style/resultant sound/dynamics. If you want to do your own thing and create great banjo music without picks of any sort/number, then do so. Plenty of other musicians have done the same thing.

Texasbanjo - Posted - 08/18/2017:  15:09:14




I agree with Sam.  If you want to play bluegrass banjo, you need picks.  If you ever plan to jam and/or be in a bluegrass band, you must have picks to be heard over the loud fiddles and dreadnaught guitars and to have that bluegrass banjo "sound".     If you just wish to play at home and/or for friends and family, then play bare fingered or with a flatpick.  It's your banjo, play it your way.  

WayneConrad - Posted - 08/18/2017:  15:32:04


I find up-picking easier (not just louder) with picks, although it wasn't easier when I first started.  But now that I'm used to picks, and have shaped them to my preference, up-picking is easier with them than without them.  I like using picks for thumb-lead, which is up-picking.



Some (many?) pickers bend the picks using pliers to shape them to their preference.  Some want the picks to closely follow the pad of their finger, some want them to "stick out" more.  For me, bending the picks made all the difference.



 

csacwp - Posted - 08/18/2017:  15:46:57


With nylon strings and a proper bridge, you can play as loud as a Mastertone set up with steel strings and played with picks. Some banjos are even louder set up this way.

banjo bill-e - Posted - 08/18/2017:  16:25:07


You generally need a pick to be heard in a band. If playing by yourself, suit yourself.

cb56 - Posted - 08/19/2017:  10:34:27


Try the Fingertone picks by Pro Pik for a nice compromise. I use them on my tenor guitar.

YojoBeckons874 - Posted - 08/19/2017:  14:06:19


When I first started playing banjo, I decided to play Bluegrass style and then switched to Clawhammer some time later. With both, I absolutely abhor using picks. I think you get a cleaner sound if you get really good at it, but I equate it to using thick winter gloves to perform a complicated oral surgery. Besides, I feel that playing an instrument should be an intimate experience and that picks just stand in the way of the player getting to know his or her instrument. To each his own and I don't pretend to be a professional, but I've done pretty well on both playing styles without picks.

Fathand - Posted - 08/21/2017:  05:44:13


Picks add volume and help you to play faster as metal slides over metal strings easier than the soft flesh of your finger tips. Also if you got into a 8 hour jam with bare fingers I am guessing you may not have much skin left on your fingers. I have raised blisters fingerpicking a guitar without picks in under an hour and a bass in 20 minutes. If you can pick with fingernails as classical guitarists do it may be an option if you have strong nails.

johnedallas - Posted - 08/22/2017:  06:39:02


I've always played the banjo with longish fingernails. The actual length depends on my current whim, or on whatever other instruments I'm playing. For a purely banjo gig, I'll let the nails grow a bit, but for a mixed banjo and concertina gig, I'll trim the nails a bit, though still leaving enough to engage the strings.

The advanage of nails over picks is that with the bare nails, you can execute the occasional downstroke or guitar-style rasguedo without anything flying off!

Cheers,
John

Fathand - Posted - 08/22/2017:  07:41:26


quote:

Originally posted by johnedallas

I've always played the banjo with longish fingernails. The actual length depends on my current whim, or on whatever other instruments I'm playing. For a purely banjo gig, I'll let the nails grow a bit, but for a mixed banjo and concertina gig, I'll trim the nails a bit, though still leaving enough to engage the strings.



The advanage of nails over picks is that with the bare nails, you can execute the occasional downstroke or guitar-style rasguedo without anything flying off!



Cheers,

John







I do the occasional downstroke or strum with thumbpick or ring finger if I need to stroke down up much like a ukulele strum. I can approximate a rasquedo with ring and pinky for the rare time I want to play one.



If you are playing your banjo most everyday, then nails need to be a suitable length most everyday. Picks will remain at a suitable length and some of us cannot grow or keep suitable nails.

Mooooo - Posted - 08/25/2017:  11:09:15


If you play Clawhammer you don't want to use them, but for Bluegrass you should use them if you don't want to be the nerd without picks...come on, all the cool kids are using them. Suck it up and make yourself learn to use them...otherwise "They're all gonna laugh at you."

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