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 Playing Advice: Bluegrass (Scruggs) Styles

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Chino - Posted - 02/05/2007:  15:06:22

Just how important is it to have a plastic pick?
I've looked around my local music shops (not many) and can only find metal thumb picks.

Are these OK or should I look harder?

And now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go and spontaneously combust

Texasbanjo - Posted - 02/05/2007:  15:08:57

Most bluegrass players use plastic thumbpicks, however, there are some that prefer the metal. I think it's according to the sound you want.

If you can't find plastic thumbpicks, check out or or some of the other vendors on this list. Thumpicks are very inexpensive so you can order a bunch and try them and see what fits and sounds good to you. They DO come in different sizes, so you might try a variety of sizes, too.

Let's Pick!
Texas Banjo

Harry - Posted - 02/05/2007:  15:31:08

Let a couple of friends ask for plastic tumbpicks at the local music stores too, maybe they'll stock them (the way Heineken started in New York)

We tune because we care (Doc Watson)

PickinNGrinin - Posted - 02/05/2007:  15:47:10

Plastic Thumb picks are just easier to use. They are more flexible, and lighter. Also I dont notice the difference in sound. But go to that is the Best store for bluegrass. they have everything for banjo. I like the Propiks.

Pickin N Grinin With Christ,
Trey Reed

ole blackie - Posted - 02/05/2007:  16:41:18

As a rule, a plastic thumbpick will give you a more mellow sound, while a metal one will give you a brighter sound. Its just a matter of preferance.

..."The Lord opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble". I Peter 5:5

JonT - Posted - 02/05/2007:  20:01:22

Here's another vote for PropiksOops - sorry for the double post - got a message that said the first one had timed out. My apologies.

Peace - JonT

Edited by - JonT on 02/05/2007 20:03:17

JonT - Posted - 02/05/2007:  20:02:08

Here's another vote for Propiks.

Peace - JonT

Chino - Posted - 02/06/2007:  02:23:51

Thanks for the suggestions.

And now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go and spontaneously combust

Benjor - Posted - 02/06/2007:  10:35:07

I've been using plastic thumbpicks since I started banjo 2 years ago, because that's all I could find in Chicago music stores.

But -- when visiting my in-laws in North Carolina over xmas, I found a store with metal thumbpicks, and I fell in love. I really dig the bright sound, and I'm never going back!

CurtissWhite - Posted - 02/06/2007:  10:41:37

A metal thumpick may damage your strings more because it may hit the stringswith the picks edge. Whereas the finger picks hit the strings with the flat surface.

Earl's the man!!!

jasonmke - Posted - 02/06/2007:  11:39:20

i'm sorry- i really don't want to step on any toes but some times i think too many people worry about the things that are least important. there is no advantage to using one pic over another, they both have qualities that the other doesn't. the best thing in the world for making your banjo sound and feel better is to quit f'n with it and play the darn thing. practice is waaay more important than which pic you choose. i don't know about anyone else but I'd rather listen to someone who can play, jam out on a 30.00 kmart special than someone who can't play sweating his way through cripple creek on a pre-war gibson

flake - Posted - 02/06/2007:  12:29:05

Jason---The only way he'll know which he prefers is to try them both. No big deal.
But in the long run, and as experience begins to build, I'd put choice of picks (thumb and finger) on an almost equal level with choice of strings when it comes to pulling the tone you want, and getting the kind of response you like, from your banjo.


Benjor - Posted - 02/06/2007:  13:44:58

So the original poster asked, "How important is it to have plastic picks?"

I guess the most consise answer is: "It's not important at all. Like your choice of strings and capo, it's just a matter of personal preference and comfort. It's not going to make you a better or worse player".

n8lhg - Posted - 02/06/2007:  14:44:07


I switched to a metal thumb pick because I was breaking the plastic ones too easy/fast. The metal ones last longer for me. Other than that, there was no reason for the change. Honestly, I didn't notice a sound change, but I wasn't looking for it either.

Chino - Posted - 02/07/2007:  03:50:05

Thanks all

And now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go and spontaneously combust

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