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 Playing Advice: Bluegrass (Scruggs) Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: I got in the Habit of using my fingernails instead of finger picks


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/359187

atlantis25 - Posted - 12/05/2019:  07:49:14


I find it less noisy to use my fingernails instead of finger picks when practicing.
does anyone else do this?
Also use a metal thumb pick when recording and also when practicing. Also I am
finding my metal finger picks tend to gradually slide off when playing.

eagleisland - Posted - 12/05/2019:  08:07:22


quote:

Originally posted by atlantis25

I find it less noisy to use my fingernails instead of finger picks when practicing.

does anyone else do this?

Also use a metal thumb pick when recording and also when practicing. Also I am

finding my metal finger picks tend to gradually slide off when playing.






As has been known to be said around here, "It's your banjo, son. Play it any damned way you like."



But if you plan to play with others in a bluegrass setting - like jamming - learning to use finger picks is pretty much a necessity.



Most new players find the adjustment takes time. It's worth it to take that time.



Now, as to the fact that your picks slide off: fundamentally, this is a technique problem. With practice (and it might take a year or two), if your picks are properly shaped, the problem should ultimately go away.



Short term, however, there are some things that can help. Having the right picks FOR YOUR FINGERS - not anyone else's fingers - can definitely help. Though I don't use them, I generally recommend my new students start with the split-band ProPiks, in that I've found these are by far the easiest to adjust for good fit and retention.



Another thing that can help is to lick your fingertips (and thumbtip) prior to putting the picks on. Sounds counterintuitive, but it actually does create a little bit of tackiness between the pick and the finger that helps retention.



For more aggressive stickiness, you can either rub your fingertips with fiddle bow rosin or obtain a jar of  Gorilla Snot,  which is an incredibly tacky (as in sticky) rosin-based paste.



Some members here also suggest putting a material like electrical wiring shrink wrap material around the bands of your picks to create extra retention.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 12/05/2019:  08:25:33


I hope you have good, strong, healthy, fingernails.

jan dupree - Posted - 12/05/2019:  08:32:28


It could affect your ability to play with fingerpicks. The feel and angle is different.

a g cole - Posted - 12/05/2019:  11:27:54


To me, fingernail picking makes a banjo whisper instead of singing out loud. As to picks sliding off fingers, I think most of us have had that experience, but most have found various ways to remedy that problem.

Mooooo - Posted - 12/05/2019:  11:56:32


Bluegrass banjo = finger picks

picking bluegass without finger picks = lazy self-taught guitarist 99% of the time.



Maybe you can look into taking a few lessons from a dedicated banjo instructor (not a guitarist with a banjo) and he/she can help you with your pick problems and many other things you may not think of, but are necessary to good bluegrass picking. Have fun


Edited by - Mooooo on 12/05/2019 12:00:44

doryman - Posted - 12/05/2019:  12:35:04


quote:

Originally posted by Mooooo

Bluegrass banjo = finger picks

picking bluegass without finger picks = lazy self-taught guitarist 99% of the time.






The remaining 1% being various other banjo playing ne'er-do-wells. 

atlantis25 - Posted - 12/05/2019:  13:34:30


Thanks for the replies men, a little background, I have been playing the Banjo
for 7 years (well 6 , spent almost a year in hospitals in 2015 & 2016) but I'm back
and I don't miss those places.) and I forgot most of the songs I learned before
that. I relearned Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Jerusalem Ridge though.
Cheers GatorGDC !

wi_gardener - Posted - 12/05/2019:  15:08:52


quote:

Originally posted by doryman

quote:

Originally posted by Mooooo

Bluegrass banjo = finger picks

picking bluegass without finger picks = lazy self-taught guitarist 99% of the time.






The remaining 1% being various other banjo playing ne'er-do-wells. 






Some of us are forced to. I rarely get a good chance to practice before 12 am. 



I do miss the sound of my picks, but bare finger picking still has a nice ring.

thisoldman - Posted - 12/05/2019:  15:26:46


When I first switched over from 2ftl (bare fingers) to Scruggs, I used to use bare fingers for some of my practice time and picks the rest of the time. Eventually I bit the bullet and went with just picks. It's just my personal opinion, but learning vary the volume of your playing is part of expanding one's playing skills. I play a lot of Tony Ellis tunes and there are some that sound better played softly (some of the slower tempo tunes) and others (like the BG arrangements) sound better when you play loudly. Playing softer also forces me to more precise in my picking.

RB3 - Posted - 12/06/2019:  06:55:42


If God and Earl Scruggs had intended for you to play the banjo with your fingernails they would have put them on the other side of your fingers!

BrooksMT - Posted - 12/06/2019:  09:13:57


I'm starting learning 2finger and 3finger old time. I don't use picks. I'm surprized my fingernails have not been ripped off. I take GLA oil (Evening Primrose oil) capsuls (1/day), which definitely make my nails thicker and stronger. This has helped my frailing nails persist longer (now, it's only outdoor accidents/dings/etc. that tear a nail).

bnlholic - Posted - 12/07/2019:  12:26:53


Its previously been stated on the hangout that if you think someone else can hear you when you're practicing then you're performing, not practicing. I'm shy about making others hear my practice....especially when its 2:00 AM and I can't sleep. I live in an apartment. So I use a 1960s openback Kay with a shirt stuffed in the back and play without picks. Nobody else can hear me. I'm free to practice any thing I want. It doesn't have to sound good to others. Of course, there's an adjustment period when I do use picks. But, my left hand gets great practice.

Bart Veerman - Posted - 12/08/2019:  14:21:57


I haven't used finger picks for many years. Although less loud than the other three finger pickers, I have no problems being heard. It does make it a lot easier switching back and forth between 3 finger and clawhammer style smiley



Every once and a while I do put on the picks, despite them feeling totally clumsy, and let my archtop rip for five or ten minutes until my ears tell me enough already.



Don't beat up on us non-pick players please - Alan Mundy is on record for saying he plays without them at times smiley


Edited by - Bart Veerman on 12/08/2019 14:23:24

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