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... for those of us who prefer the tuning and singing differences the LN provides. All questions & help welcome!

253 Members, Created 1/30/2011 -

Administrators: TonyS (owner) , Gary Blanchard , pastorharry , vega long neck


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Picks or No?

From TonyS on 6/3/2022 2:31:16 PM

Which do you use? Pete? Can't get used to the thumb pick...maybe one National ?

7 Comments

kwfolk1 says:
6/3/2022 3:57:55 PM

I might be the odd man out, but I don't use picks when playing banjo. Guitar - yes! Banjo - no! Did once upon a time back in the 60's & early 70's (3-Finger picking). I don't with clawhammer, PS's Basic Strum, Double-thumbing & a bunch of misc. fingerpicking styles I use of 3/4 & 6/8 tunes.

TonyS says:
6/3/2022 4:44:20 PM

Thanks! I feel better now lol!

phdm says:
6/3/2022 4:53:16 PM

I started out on the banjo religiously following Pete’s guidance in his book “How to Play the 5-String Banjo “. In it, he described using three finger pick. The first two, on the index and middle finger, facing inward, and the last one on the ring finger, facing outward, covering the nail. That reverse pic he used for the down stroke on his Basic Strum. He also describe using a thumb pick. But, over the years, I discovered that Pete rarely if ever used a thumb pick. Many times he didn’t use any pick. One of the things that banjo instructions seemed never to discuss was the common practice of growing your fingernails on the ring, middle, and index finger of your right hand and picking with your natural nails. I have never achieved that, though 45 years after following Pete‘s pick instructions religiously, I decided I would try to learn clawhammer, and was able to grow the fingernail of my middle right finger for the the down stroke. If you start using pics on the thumb index and middle finger, while adding a third pick in reverse on the ring finger, and you play Seeger style, you will easily be able to use those picks should you decide to go to Scruggs style, though the ring finger pick will be unnecessary.

reese158 says:
6/3/2022 8:28:39 PM

Pete’s banjo book discusses finger nail length.

I’ve seen photos of Peggy Seeger occasionally playing with a thumb pick. I have assumed she used it when she wanted to do some fast and clear drop thumb.

I have played with nothing but long fingernails for thirty years.

TonyS says:
6/4/2022 4:11:03 AM

Thanks all!

rands says:
7/3/2022 1:52:08 PM

I prefer to play without picks but I have a problem with my middle fingernail splitting. It’s as if a fault line runs straight to the quick. At first, I could not stand to wear picks. Softer ones are easy to shape but difficult to keep in place. Harder ones tend to stay put but can be very painful. I used pliers to adjust the metal picks and really hot water for the plastic ones. I suggest you take the time to make them comfortably functional and then make another set or two for back up. I still usually play pickless just because.

TonyS says:
7/4/2022 5:49:29 AM

Thanks Rand


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