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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Anybody use sandpaper to root their fingers?


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/390266

Bigbadbucksnort - Posted - 05/03/2023:  13:04:38


This is a curiosity post and also just to share a weird discovery.



I've been picking for about 25 years, and while I normally choose to root with just my pinky, I've always been able to hold both the ring and pinky down. I hate picking with my ring finger down, not because it's hard, but because it stiffened my middle finger. I.e., I didn't have the trouble that some people have with rooting with their ring finger: I could hold mine down just fine, but I couldn't control my middle finger when I did. So I've always rooted with my pinky.



Something started happening several years ago that finally peaked last year, making it impossible for me to play at all. Somehow or another, I lost the ability to hold my rooting finger(s) in place. Whether I rooted one or two fingers, no matter how hard I tried (or not tried -- trying to relax), my rooting fingers would jump around on the head and I lost all sense of where my fingerpicks were on the strings. I just could not control the root. And as a result, I could not control my hand position. The rooting fingers would curl and straighten, or kick out or sometimes curl into the strings. It was awful. Maybe I got focal dystonia in my rooting fingers -- I dunno. My rooting fingers didn't feel extra strong, but rather noodly, weak, and uncontrollable.



I tried everything I could think of to fix it -- bending fingerpicks every way imaginable, double-sided tape, rosin on the head, making small braces to hold my root in place. Nothing worked. On a whim I decided to try high-grit sandpaper (rough-side up). That is, I rooted my fingers onto the rough side of the sandpaper instead of on the head. Two things happened simultaneously: 1) my picking went right back to about 98% of my peak playing abilities, with me being able to play faster than before and 2) for some reason rooting both ring and pinky became just as natural to me as just rooting the pinky. These changes were both instantaneous. Using sandpaper not only made me hold my root in place effortlessly, but also made me an ambidextrous rooter -- I can root either one or two fingers now. And while each type of root requires a different hand shape, neither one of them is difficult to pick with. If anything, I seem to be favoring the two-finger root now, after 25 years of picking with just my pinky.



Now here's the weird thing: while double-sided tape and other braces did work to keep my root and hand still, they made my picking fingers stiffen up and cramp. Therefore, it can't be that the sandpaper somehow holds my finger in place better. The tape and braces did that just fine. My only thought is that it must somehow be the texture of the sandpaper that both allows me to keep my root still AND allows the rest of my hand to relax. Now, I should say that I have some of the thickest, roughest skin imaginable. I've shaken people's hands and had them literally jump at how leathery they can be. So maybe the rougher texture of the sandpaper is to me what normal head texture is to most other pickers. I dunno. But I do know I need that "biofeedback" from the sandpaper to let me know where my hand is and that it is staying in place while picking.



So to my question: has anybody else ever had a situation like this? What did you do to fix it?



Sorry about the longwindedness. Hoping the extra details will help out anybody who's ever been in a similar situation.



And just so you know: I attached the sandpaper (about 1.5" strip wide) parallel to the strings, using strong tape to attach it to the tension hoop and not to the head. 


Edited by - Bigbadbucksnort on 05/03/2023 13:18:55

Paul Roberts - Posted - 05/03/2023:  18:54:08


Very interesting. It would seem that what began as your search for a compensation strategy, fortuitously landed upon what appears to be an actual therapy. Have you done any explorations of the theories behind reflexology and meridian therapies like acupuncture, which view the body in terms of energy systems?

Bigbadbucksnort - Posted - 05/03/2023:  19:40:41


Not with regard to this particular issue, but I did use acupuncture to help me with chronic sinus problems.

TTtheBear - Posted - 05/04/2023:  05:30:14


I'm confused. You say you attached the sandpaper to the tension hoop rather than the head. Where do you root your fingers? I root mine near the bridge with forays towards the neck for tone mellowing.I don't see how sandpaper connected to the tension hoop could be positioned properly. FWIW, I sometimes use Gorilla Snot on my pinky and ring fingertips.

Bigbadbucksnort - Posted - 05/04/2023:  13:25:30


I explained myself poorly. This is what I mean:



banjohangout.org/forum/attachm...D=296111.


Edited by - Bigbadbucksnort on 05/04/2023 13:26:31



 

TTtheBear - Posted - 05/05/2023:  05:09:17


Ah! Got it. I'm actually unsure that using a some double sided tape to stick a piece of sandpaper to the head would have a measurable effect on tone, but your solution avoids the problem entirely.

Mark Styles - Posted - 05/05/2023:  09:02:43


I used pritt-stick(a form of tac/glue). It worked great to feel the head.
Ps have to carry this darn banjo around all the time now lol.

TTtheBear - Posted - 05/06/2023:  09:10:41


I have some Gorilla Snot. Originally for guitar picks, works nicely for this as well. Put ot on mu finger tips.

steve davis - Posted - 05/06/2023:  09:19:17


I lost the ability to hold my picking hand in place around 2002 after 30 years of playing.
I tried gluing a wooden finger rest onto the head,taping my fingers to the head and making an arm sling to hold my hand in place.
After giving up on all that I went to the doctor and found out I had a brain tumor.
After I had that removed in '06 I could play normally,again.

Tractor1 - Posted - 05/06/2023:  10:33:49


This Is what I would tell someone based on what seemed to work for me---can't really guarantee beyond that

I have been thru that time and again--I suggest getting your hand in a perfect angle for clarity ,a position that lets you slide to and from the bridge -- Looking at the back of the hand--the area from the wrist to the knuckles will have a certain angle ===and also - the angle the hand is turned in relation to the head at other directions should be noticed--now try holding that steady with only a bit of pressure applied to the arm rest --slide to and from the bridge --raising them D$%^&-ring and little fingers up--make them relax or at least not touch the head while they wiggle --after a while -----try playing some -that way --If you can't play--- you have let the angles get away ----After a while of doing this---the fingers will calm down --The pressure needed on the arm rest calms down also--You will likely never be quiet as good with the fingers floating but the good news is--you can start letting them down again --but only in their new relaxed manner --they still have to be some where and will still wiggle a bit but no pressure should be applied--

Bigbadbucksnort - Posted - 05/16/2023:  05:09:51


quote:

Originally posted by TTtheBear

Ah! Got it. I'm actually unsure that using a some double sided tape to stick a piece of sandpaper to the head would have a measurable effect on tone, but your solution avoids the problem entirely.






Unfortunately I wear the tape out real fast -- basically before I'm done playing. The tape loses its stick and starts to bunch up. That's what I get for having lizard skin. 

Bigbadbucksnort - Posted - 05/16/2023:  05:12:29


quote:

Originally posted by Mark Styles

I used pritt-stick(a form of tac/glue). It worked great to feel the head.

Ps have to carry this darn banjo around all the time now lol.






Yours and TTtheBear's suggestions about using glue stick and gorilla snot are definitely worth looking at, as well. You can see white powder on the sandpaper -- that's my fingernails being sanded away. The sandpaper is the best solution so far, but gotta find something that doesn't cut to the literal quick. 

Bigbadbucksnort - Posted - 05/16/2023:  05:17:29


quote:

Originally posted by Tractor1

After a while of doing this---the fingers will calm down --The pressure needed on the arm rest calms down also--You will likely never be quiet as good with the fingers floating but the good news is--you can start letting them down again --but only in their new relaxed manner --they still have to be some where and will still wiggle a bit but no pressure should be applied--






That's actually all right on par with what I've been working with. For several weeks now I've been trying to pick with the ring and pinky floating just above the head. There's simply no question that I pick WAY more relaxed and easier without rooting at all. SO MUCH BETTER FEELING. The problem is that it is harder to pick accurately, so I compensate by anchoring my forearm more strongly on the armrest. But so far that's just not good enough for accuracy's sake. If there was some way to pick 1) without anchoring my fingers and 2) in such a way that I could hold my hand right in place, I would. 



Maybe there's a dobro-player solution to anchoring the right hand for banjo players! 


Edited by - Bigbadbucksnort on 05/16/2023 05:24:23

steve davis - Posted - 05/16/2023:  06:40:42


Have you talked to a doctor?

Bigbadbucksnort - Posted - 05/16/2023:  06:58:41


quote:

Originally posted by steve davis

Have you talked to a doctor?






I have. This has been going on for years, and I've had a number of health issues so I've been scanned for just about everything on every part of my body. I'm glad they got your tumor and put you back on track. 

TheBrazos - Posted - 05/24/2023:  19:53:29


quote:

Originally posted by Bigbadbucksnort

This is a curiosity post and also just to share a weird discovery.



I've been picking for about 25 years, and while I normally choose to root with just my pinky, I've always been able to hold both the ring and pinky down. I hate picking with my ring finger down, not because it's hard, but because it stiffened my middle finger. I.e., I didn't have the trouble that some people have with rooting with their ring finger: I could hold mine down just fine, but I couldn't control my middle finger when I did. So I've always rooted with my pinky.



Something started happening several years ago that finally peaked last year, making it impossible for me to play at all. Somehow or another, I lost the ability to hold my rooting finger(s) in place. Whether I rooted one or two fingers, no matter how hard I tried (or not tried -- trying to relax), my rooting fingers would jump around on the head and I lost all sense of where my fingerpicks were on the strings. I just could not control the root. And as a result, I could not control my hand position. The rooting fingers would curl and straighten, or kick out or sometimes curl into the strings. It was awful. Maybe I got focal dystonia in my rooting fingers -- I dunno. My rooting fingers didn't feel extra strong, but rather noodly, weak, and uncontrollable.



I tried everything I could think of to fix it -- bending fingerpicks every way imaginable, double-sided tape, rosin on the head, making small braces to hold my root in place. Nothing worked. On a whim I decided to try high-grit sandpaper (rough-side up). That is, I rooted my fingers onto the rough side of the sandpaper instead of on the head. Two things happened simultaneously: 1) my picking went right back to about 98% of my peak playing abilities, with me being able to play faster than before and 2) for some reason rooting both ring and pinky became just as natural to me as just rooting the pinky. These changes were both instantaneous. Using sandpaper not only made me hold my root in place effortlessly, but also made me an ambidextrous rooter -- I can root either one or two fingers now. And while each type of root requires a different hand shape, neither one of them is difficult to pick with. If anything, I seem to be favoring the two-finger root now, after 25 years of picking with just my pinky.



Now here's the weird thing: while double-sided tape and other braces did work to keep my root and hand still, they made my picking fingers stiffen up and cramp. Therefore, it can't be that the sandpaper somehow holds my finger in place better. The tape and braces did that just fine. My only thought is that it must somehow be the texture of the sandpaper that both allows me to keep my root still AND allows the rest of my hand to relax. Now, I should say that I have some of the thickest, roughest skin imaginable. I've shaken people's hands and had them literally jump at how leathery they can be. So maybe the rougher texture of the sandpaper is to me what normal head texture is to most other pickers. I dunno. But I do know I need that "biofeedback" from the sandpaper to let me know where my hand is and that it is staying in place while picking.



So to my question: has anybody else ever had a situation like this? What did you do to fix it?



Sorry about the longwindedness. Hoping the extra details will help out anybody who's ever been in a similar situation.



And just so you know: I attached the sandpaper (about 1.5" strip wide) parallel to the strings, using strong tape to attach it to the tension hoop and not to the head. 






Funny you mention this, I was wondering if anyone ever use grip tape for handguns in this manner. I decided not to do it because it is the original head, but boy I bet it would keep my finger in place! I can't for the life of me anchor my ring finger and bend my middle at the same time. Finally gave up and just going with the pinky to keep progress moving along...

TheBrazos - Posted - 05/24/2023:  19:56:43


quote:

Originally posted by TTtheBear

I have some Gorilla Snot. Originally for guitar picks, works nicely for this as well. Put ot on mu finger tips.






Does it stain the head and does it leave a residue on the head after?

TTtheBear - Posted - 05/25/2023:  04:26:29


Not that I've noticed. I put it on my finger tips.

Texasbanjo - Posted - 05/25/2023:  04:46:19


Whatever works for you is what you should do. You can plant one, two or no fingers. There's no rule about how many or how few must be planted. If sandpaper works for you, go for it.

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