Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

296
Banjo Lovers Online


Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!

Page: 1  2   Last Page (2) 

Jan 12, 2019 - 10:51:45 AM
like this
10 posts since 1/8/2019

Hello,
I am fairly new to banjo (2 years) I am originally a guitarist (20+ years,) although can play many instruments. I play clawhammer style banjo, but want to be able to also play Scruggs style 3 finger banjo as well.

I'm having a really hard time using finger picks. They feel really awkward and I just want to pull them off and toss them aside and just use my fingers. Any tips on getting used to them? I think I have them fitting correctly? They just are so annoying to me.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Please excuse my post if this question has been asked a bunch. This is my first post as I am new to banjo hangout and am not aquainted with the forum lay out yet. I am also on my phone and did not see a search bar.

Thanks.
??

Jan 12, 2019 - 11:03:07 AM
like this

Mooooo

USA

6895 posts since 8/20/2016

Everyone feels awkward. Welcome to the club. Keep them on and don't practice without them anymore. After a few months you will hate playing when you don't have them on. The sound and speed you get from Picks is tremendous. You are going to love them as soon as you stop hating them. Suck it up, get used to them, you'll thank yourself in the end. Good luck. ps. they should hurt a bit too!!!

Jan 12, 2019 - 11:10:53 AM
likes this

1566 posts since 11/16/2006

All picks are not the same. Some feel great, others feel awful. Try a bunch to find the right feel not to mention the best sounding tone. I am partial to Yates 8s and or Randall Wyatt's finger picks. They feel ideal to me and produce wonderful tone with very little pick noise.

Jan 12, 2019 - 11:28:15 AM
like this

14159 posts since 12/2/2005

Welcome, Eljaye. It is a common question, and a common problem.

Forgive me for asking what may seem a really dumb question, but... are you sure you've got the picks pointing the correct way? We HAVE seen folks here in the past who were actually wearing them backwards, apparently assuming that the picks pluck the string like a fingernail would. The blade of the pick should be opposite the nail.

Some picks are more comfortable than others, as has been noted. Some picks, for example, can really irritate the cuticles for some folks (particularly for those who believe that if God had meant for us to have long fingernails, he never would have given us teeth).

I've found that for my beginning students the split-band Pro-Piks are the easiest to adjust for comfort. They're not expensive.

Assuming that your picks are okay and you're wearing them properly, the key to success is... Keep them on and don't practice without them anymore. After a few months you will hate playing when you don't have them on. The sound and speed you get from Picks is tremendous. You are going to love them as soon as you stop hating them. Suck it up, get used to them, you'll thank yourself in the end.

Jan 12, 2019 - 12:17:34 PM
like this

1971 posts since 4/5/2006

What these guys are telling you is right on. In the old days, National picks were all there was, and they cut into your cuticles. They were either too loose & slipped off, or they hurt your fingers. There was no in between. They made bumps on my fingers where this holes were! Now days we have multiple choices. These were all brought about by fellow pickers who tired of those old National picks & decided to do something about it. You don't have to mortgage your home, or your first born, to try three or four different brands of picks. 

There is a rather new thread, I think on the Scruggs picking forum, about bending your picks to fit.  It would certainly be worth browsing.  And realize, some people like their picks straight & others bend the tips to curl around their finger tips, whatever works for you.  And yes, wear them all the time when picking. The first thing you'll notice, after you get some picks that don't hurt, is you'll be digging too deep into the strings. This is because your fingers are now a little bit longer than without the picks. You need to adjust. And when you get used to picking with picks, & then try to pick without them, it messes up your feel for where the strings are. That's why everyone is telling you not to get discouraged when they hurt & try to pick without them.

There are also little tricks you can do to keep your picks from slipping off without having them so tight they cut off circulation. Some people suck their fingers before putting on their picks. I keep a film canister of ground up (fiddle) rosin & dip my finger tips into it. There is a thread on those kinds of tips as well. You are in Seattle, there are a lot of pickers there. I assume you know of Dusty Strings? The more people you talk to & pick with, the quicker you become aware of & accustom to all of this stuff. Good luck.

Welcome to the Hang Out.

Edited by - monstertone on 01/12/2019 12:20:57

Jan 12, 2019 - 12:22:12 PM
likes this

Eljae83

USA

10 posts since 1/8/2019

I have a couple different finger & thumb picks. I will keep my eye out for others as well.

I am pretty sure I have them on correctly.

I will keep using them. I just want to play fast, and I know that takes time, I'm pretty impatient, which has been my greatest downfall when it comes to playing banjo. I keep hearing "learn slow to play fast." I know this is true, and using finger picks has been the hardest thing for me to get used to. But I'll keep at it.

Thanks for the words of wisdom.

Any exercises to help me get used to them? Just work on rolls?


Jan 12, 2019 - 12:33:43 PM
like this

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

22890 posts since 8/3/2003

If that's the type of pick you are using, you might want to get a regular bluegrass type finger pick. I think they would be more comfortable and be able to strike the string(s) better. Those look like they might either hook on the string or maybe miss it entirely.

Jan 12, 2019 - 12:34:07 PM
like this

3777 posts since 9/21/2009

That thumb pick may be a little heavy to begin with, especially when matched with the finger picks you have. And yes, you need to learn to play clean, while playing slow. Otherwise, you will develop bad habits that will be really hard to break later on. Speed will come on it's own, when you're ready for it.

Jan 12, 2019 - 12:41:31 PM
like this

3777 posts since 9/21/2009

I agree with Skip that the split band pro pics would be a good choice to begin with. You might match it with a Geipel thumb pick. They're very light and will feel much more natural that the pick you are using in the photo.

Jan 12, 2019 - 12:45:04 PM

Eljae83

USA

10 posts since 1/8/2019

quote:
Originally posted by banjoman56

That thumb pick may be a little heavy to begin with, especially when matched with the finger picks you have. And yes, you need to learn to play clean, while playing slow. Otherwise, you will develop bad habits that will be really hard to break later on. Speed will come on it's own, when you're ready for it.


This thumb pick in my photo does seem a bit on the heavy side for me.  I will try some thinner ones.  I do have a Dunlop thumb pick around here some where, it's a bit thinner.  Not sure what the gauge is since I lost it.  But I'll hit up the music shop at some point this weekend and get a few others.  Thank you.

Jan 12, 2019 - 12:49:29 PM
likes this

Mooooo

USA

6895 posts since 8/20/2016

I haven't tried those fingerpicks, but it looks that if you learn to pick with those, without hitting your finger skin, you will probably pick really cleanly. It is hard to train yourself to pick with as little of the surface of the pick as possible to avoid scraping and pick noise, and those picks are all tip. I don't know, but it seems like it may be more difficult, but in the end may serve you much better than regular picks that cover your entire fingerprint area - not sure what the real name is for that part of the finger. They may force you to pick better if you can avoid rubbing your fingerprint skin as you pick.

I hope someone who knows better about these picks than me chimes in. It is just a conjecture on my part.

Edited by - Mooooo on 01/12/2019 12:52:36

Jan 12, 2019 - 12:49:50 PM
likes this

Eljae83

USA

10 posts since 1/8/2019

Thanks for all the replies. I am going to go pick up a few other picks this weekend.

I do have the standard Dunlop metal finger picks as well in .013 gauge. Do you think that is a good thickness to start getting used to them?

Thanks for the tips and advice everyone, I really appreciate it. I love banjo so much, I wish I started playing sooner.

Jan 12, 2019 - 12:58:39 PM

Eljae83

USA

10 posts since 1/8/2019

Found my other thumb pick. And here it is pictured with my other finger picks. Their gauges are .013 and .0225. (I thought they were same gauge, I must have not paid attention when I bought them.)


Edited by - Eljae83 on 01/12/2019 13:00:02

Jan 12, 2019 - 1:09:28 PM
likes this

15 posts since 9/1/2018

And a very beautiful hand it is!

Jan 12, 2019 - 1:17:43 PM
likes this

1971 posts since 4/5/2006

The thumb pick shown is either a Dunlop or a Dobro, it's been so long ago I forget. Notice it's been cut back quite a bit where it wraps around my thumb. Those picks always gave me trouble getting caught on the 5th string. I cut grooves on the inside like Earl suggested in his book. It never hurts to carry a couple extra thumb picks hooked on the hooks of your banjo,,,,,just in case you need one in a hurry. smiley

When Dunlop came out with their curved blade tips, I went down & checked them out. They are available in brass as well as steel & in different gages, maybe even smaller sizes. I use a brass one on the middle finger so I don't get them mixed up. .0225's both fingers Some people paint a small mark on one pick with nail polish. 

I also have a set of Pro Pics, floating around somewhere, which I bought when they first came out. They are comfortable. I just never got around to using them.

I don't think much of those skinny Ernie Ball picks. Try to stay with the ones having a more conventional size blade. Have fun trying on all the different picks. 


Edited by - monstertone on 01/12/2019 13:19:58

Jan 12, 2019 - 1:22:50 PM
like this
Players Union Member

Neil Allen

France

774 posts since 6/15/2014

That should work pretty well. There's quite a discussion about choice of fingerpicks and fitting them here.

The thumb pick will probably be the hardest to get used to; the length makes it feel like having a paddle strapped to your thumb at first. When I first started, I shortened the thumb pick which initially made it easier, but I came to feel that this was counterproductive as it made my hand play too close to the strings and made it harder to drop my thumb onto the second string (a long movement made easier with a long pick). I feel that, for me anyway, the Dunlop mediums are the right length as they are.

You might need to just adjust the tips of the picks slightly so that they bend upwards. Also, the picks can be rotated slightly to make them strike the strings flat on, which gives you better tone.

If you practice only with the picks on, after about three weeks they will feel perfectly natural and not awkward at all.

Edited by - Neil Allen on 01/12/2019 13:25:21

Jan 12, 2019 - 1:41:22 PM
like this

1795 posts since 5/2/2012

When I switched over to Scruggs style, I tried some "butterfly" picks, similar in construction to the first set you pictured, 'cause I had been picking bare fingered with the 2ftl style. Wrong choice, in that the picks would drag along the strings, causing too much noise and slowing things down. I tried a bunch of picks. One set was picky picks, because they don't have much surface area out there on the tip. They were OK, but you had to have them rotated to the correct angle and pick very cleanly - not much room for error. I eventually settle on Pro Pics, with the split band, for adjustability and comfort. The last set shown should work. Do look at how the picks are rotated on your finger, as that can help with clean picking, especially if you have to pick the 4th string with your pointer finger. Personally, I wear my picks where the band is around the upper part of the cuticle, not up by the first joint of the finger, like I see in that last picture. More of the pick "hangs out" past the finger, but it works for me. If you look at lots of close up pictures of pickers you will see a variety of lengths past the finger tips, curvature of the picks, etc. You will need to experiment to find what works for you, just like everybody else does. Took me about 3 months to really get used to picks. By that I mean when I first put them on for that practice it felt natural, rather than having some big piece of metal hanging out over my finger. Probably after that first month they would still feel awkward when I put them on, but after a few minutes of practice I wouldn't really notice them.

Jan 12, 2019 - 1:48:34 PM
like this

pickin_fool

Canada

2415 posts since 6/30/2017

a 13 thou pick is pretty thin..i would scrap those and go heavier..with a pick as thin as .013 you would be forever adjusting it..the dunlops I use are .025..they serve me well..picking hand2 pic..the thumb pic is similar to what I use..pics are hard to get used to...no doubt..but once you get used to them its almost impossible to play without them...
dont be in too big a hurry..take your time..go slow..and just practise

Jan 12, 2019 - 3:47:06 PM

gtani7

USA

900 posts since 3/22/2017

That amber thumbpick is an Ultex, impossible to reshape with hot water being polycarbonate. I think you're shopping at Dusty strings, there aren't too many places that sell fingertones. Dunlop fingerpicks are fine except the wide bands don't agree with me, I like pretty much anything w/narrower bands like the premium ones from Hoffmeyers, Yates, Randall Wyatt, Roy's own.

I think it's easiest to start w/short bladed thumbpick and fingerpick tightly curved over the fingertip. You can cut and file thumbpick blades and lay fingerpicks on some thick carpeting and use a small socket wrench to shape the blades. There's a few folk at Dusty that re knowledgeable about these things, just ask them

There's also vids on utube about fitting/bending the bands, rotating fpicks towards the thumb, etc from Banjo Ben, Warren yates and others

Edited by - gtani7 on 01/12/2019 15:49:18

Jan 12, 2019 - 4:02:09 PM
likes this

213 posts since 4/14/2017
Online Now

As thisoldman noted, those picks are shoved onto your fingers more than most people do. Since I haven't noticed it anywhere here, I'll repeat my usual bit about putting either glasses nose pads or adhesive velcro on the inside surfaces of the pick which helps them stay gripped on to your fingers and also keeps the metal from digging in to your skin. Finding out how you like picks to be bent takes a lot of experimentation, both in terms of contouring to the finger and also in the degree of curve you want on it.

Jan 12, 2019 - 4:04:51 PM
likes this

14159 posts since 12/2/2005

Eljae, I'll add to the chorus regarding the picks you've shown. Most of us wouldn't like those either (and yes, you ARE wearing them the right way). The Dunlops are probably better but even they might not be right - for you, for where you are./

Being in the Seattle area I'm sure you've got access to decent acoustic music stores. I do recommend trying some Pro-Piks. I'd add that I generally stay away from providing specific product advice because picks are a very personal thing, but in my experience as a teacher I've found that with most students they're the easiest picks to adapt when starting out, and the pick hejira is something we all go through.

I'd also recommend this: find a teacher, if your schedule and finances permit. There's gotta be some good ones out your way. Even though you're an experienced musician, it can be hugely valuable - one of my favorite ex-students was a classical guitarist, and a good one; he's had time to forget more about music than I'll ever know. But he found formal lessons on the banjo intensely valuable, because there are subtle but real differences in technique.

Jan 13, 2019 - 9:36:39 AM
like this

146 posts since 11/13/2018

I'm new to banjo too, about 2 months. Guitar for 30 years.

I started out with the Dunlop index and middle finger picks shaped like yours, kinda straight like they come originally. I seem to have settled on the flat wrist position, that feels natural for me. So I have needed to shape my picks accordingly so they strike the strings squarely, without plucking.

For my wrist position, playing with them shaped like yours, I got too much downward striking angle on the string, toward the head. Lots scraping and pick noise.

Bending them up as shown in my picture allows a better striking angle to the string in an upward direction, without plucking it. Plucking would be striking the string in such a way that the pick pulls it out away from the head, a no no. I also have to rotate the pick a little on my middle finger so the flat surface of the pick strikes the string and not just its edge. After you get you 2 finger picks shaped and fitting like you want, you'll need some way to mark them so they always go on the same finger.

I've worn a thumb pick for years, playing guitar, so I'm used to it and I've played with shaping it for the feel of banjo playing. I'd have nasty scars on my banjo head if I'd left my thumb picks tang as long as it was originally. As far as hooking it on the strings, I heated it and bent it in such way to make it wrap better up against my thumb.

I guess I have an odd size thumb, as a small is too small and a medium didn't have enough grip tension. I cut about 1/16" off the pick wrap end, reshaped and smoothed it then heated the pick and closed it to make it slightly smaller for more grip tension.

I agree with whoever said it looks like you have yours pushed too far onto and too close to your thumb joint. That was probably just for pictures sake, but I wouldn't want to wear mine like that for playing.

I've never liked Dunlop thumb picks. It's like, when they make them, they wrap them around a flat/non tapered sizing bar. Well our thumbs need some taper in a pick to keep it from digging into our cuticle. But you can heat and custom shape a pick to suit.

Be sure to check out the links the folks here have suggested and watch other YT videos on pick selection and shaping for your style and your arm/wrist interaction to the banjo. I've found the folks here to be awesome in helping with anything you want to know, and even with info you didn't know you wanted to know. lol




Edited by - Trailryder42 on 01/13/2019 09:37:51

Jan 13, 2019 - 3:09:39 PM
likes this

Mooooo

USA

6895 posts since 8/20/2016

Since you play Clawhammer and are learning Scruggs style, you may want to try out the picks that I use. They are Clawjam picks. I use a Clawjam double blade on my index (for both Scruggs and frailing) and a normal single blade on my middle finger (by clawjam), then my thumb pick is metal (there is a derlin one too) and short. It is also made for both frailing and Scruggs picking, and is made by Clawjam...I am faster with the shorter thumb pick since I don't have to lift my thumb so high to get over the 5th string, and I only hit the head when I am frailing. They sound great and it's great to pick either style whenever I want, or switch mid-song. here's a link: Clawjam They take a bit getting used to, but not too long, and since you are just starting, probably quicker still. Good luck.

Edited by - Mooooo on 01/13/2019 15:12:15

Jan 14, 2019 - 6:35:01 AM

147 posts since 9/21/2018

So much good advice in this thread. I'm fairly new to banjo as well, and everyone has personal preferences, and with the variety of picks available you just have to spend 20 bucks and try a few. Personally, I like the Dunlop finger picks, they flare at the back end slightly making them a smidge more "comfortable" to me. I also use the Dunlop thumb pick, but the steel one. I think it is technically a dobro or resonator pick, but I like the short blade for the same reason Mooooo does, takes less lift to clear the strings. I like the metal band on my thumb for adjustability, the Blue Chip seems to be the standard for that, but the Dunlop quite a bit cheaper.

Stick with it, find what works for you, develop your own opinions.

Oh yeah, there is a finger pick style that grips farther up on your finger. I was given a set, and while they were more comfortable, the set I got was rather thin and wouldn't stay tight on the sausages attached to my palms.

Jan 14, 2019 - 9:57:13 AM
like this

1971 posts since 4/5/2006

As you get more into this Scruggs style picking, you'll get more fussy about your picks. Shaping them, sanding them to get all the burrs off. Rotating one, or both, on your finger to strike the string squarely, checking the wear marks to see how & where they are hitting, dragging across/thru the strings. Identify them in some way to assure you put them on the right finger, every time. Store them in some sort of container so they're protected, rather than just tossing them in with everything else in that middle compartment. 35mm film cases are great but they may be getting scarce now days.

You'll start watching other pickers hands. Paying attention to every little detail, how they shape the tips of their picks, how flat or curved the palm of the hand. How high off the head they hold the wrist.  Which digit of the finger flexes. Classical guitar players, vs steel guitar players, dobro players, & Scruggs style players. BTDT

The clue is, classical player hold their hand the way they do because it works for that style of playing, Steel guitars have a hand rest over the top of the bridge so they can lay the hand flat on it & only curl the index & middle fingers. All these different styles evolved to best enable picking in that particular style. It ain't called Scruggs style for nothing! Earl was the master & everyone else copied him. Yeah, you'll see variations of Earl's right hand, but it all comes back to him. Strive for that. Sure it'll give you fits, nothing comes easy. I've been at this for decades, & I still have to concentrate to keep both fingers down.    

Jan 14, 2019 - 1:41:04 PM
likes this

Eljae83

USA

10 posts since 1/8/2019

Picked up this thumb pick this weekend. Went to 2 different shops and they didn't have much of a selection of finger/thumb picks. It was disappointing. However, I saw this "Zookies" pick (I guess, they're made by Dunlop) has a curved tip (at an angle, the "30" stands for 30° angle, they also have 10°, and 20° angle ones) I bought it, and tried it out when I got home, and I really like it. It is not catching on the strings and I am not stumbling over them. I want to find a thinner one, but so far of my 4 thumb picks (I did pick up another thumb pick, a clear, no brand name one this weekend as well) this Zookies one is my favorite. It is comfortable for me.  So this may be a winner while I work on my finger pickin'.

Does anyone else have these Zookies thumb picks? Do you like them?

I appreciate all the feedback I have received on my thread. Thank you! Helped me a ton already. I think I like it here. :)


Edited by - Eljae83 on 01/14/2019 13:46:02

Page: 1  2   Last Page (2) 

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.421875