Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

363
Banjo Lovers Online


Blue Chip thumb picks... Worth the money?

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

Page: 1  2   3   Next Page   Last Page (3) 

Aug 22, 2019 - 5:28:10 AM
37 posts since 8/15/2019

I'm just a beginner, but pretty observant of some things. One thing I noticed was several videos of banjo players with a "funny looking" thumb pick. Metal around the thumb, but "plastic" for the actual plectrum piece that would contact the string.

After some research, I found said alien device on a couple of websites and discovered they were "Blue Chip" brand. Further research revealed the price of $40 or so.

I'm a bit of a cheapo, but bound and determined to amaze my friends after learning to make my Oscar Schmidt OB-5 sound more like Earl Scruggs and less like two drunk monkeys...

So, my question is concerning the cost of this item. Is it worth it? Has it improved the playing of those of you who are just starting out or those who are in the realm of Doug Dillard and company? I just need to convince myself it is worth it to get one before I do.

Aug 22, 2019 - 5:52:52 AM
like this

BobbyE

USA

2635 posts since 11/29/2007

I have used the JD Blue Chip thumb pick and like it. That being said, I have used picks that are far less expensive and didn't have a problem with those either. Picks are very personal and subjective and in my opinion, very hard to say for sure that what one player likes will be what every player likes. Not much help I know, but all I got.

Bobby

Aug 22, 2019 - 6:05:05 AM
like this

1503 posts since 10/12/2011

Personally as a beginner, I'd focus on learning to play the banjo and less on picks. Technique is more important that what pick your using.

On the flip side, I use and love, my JD Blue Chip for the comfort and tone it gives me. But I can use another pick and get similar tone. Keep an eye out on the classifieds as folks will buy a Blue Chip to try and just not care for it. They often sell for $25-30 and have only a few minutes of play time on them. Then it may be worth "trying." But like others you may not care for it.

Edited by - buckholler on 08/22/2019 06:06:13

Aug 22, 2019 - 6:12:25 AM
like this

14248 posts since 12/2/2005

Welcome to the Hangout - and be aware that you have likely just opened a can of worms.

Whenever this question comes up, there's usually some pretty predictable answers - including Blue Chip True Believers who will assert that no other pick is worthy; a handful of people who "won't never pay $40 for a pick", and some who (honestly) report that they tried one and didn't like it.

My own take is this. First, BobbyE has it right. Picks ARE personal and subjective; what works well for one might not work well for another.

I have been using Blue Chips since they were still in prototype, and I like mine very much. I have also had a fair number of students who bought them (sometimes against my advice) in the hopes that the picks would help them become better pickers. They never did - only practice can do that.

$40 IS a lot of money for a thumb pick, at least when measured against the rest of the market (much of which is very serviceable). Whether it's worth it is the question. From my perspective, for new players, I would far rather see them put money into lessons, music, and saving for a better instrument.

If money isn't an issue, then I see no reason not to - other than to note that new players probably won't recognize any difference between a Blue Chip and a less-expensive, well-fitted plastic one. The analogy I like to use is this: yes, you can learn to drive in a Ferrari, but the odds are pretty good you won't have any sense for what the car can do until you've driven a Ford for a few years.

Aug 22, 2019 - 6:14:05 AM
like this

601 posts since 3/12/2008

If you will PM me with your address and thumb size (small, medium, or large), I will send you an assortment of thumb picks to try. There won’t be a Blue Chip, but maybe you will hit upon a less expensive one that fits, plays easily, and produces a sound you like. In my search for what suits me I have been interested to find how much difference the size or shape of blade and the material of which it is made can make. Happy picking!

Aug 22, 2019 - 6:24:31 AM
like this

3240 posts since 3/28/2008

As usual, I agree with Skip.

Aug 22, 2019 - 6:25:55 AM
likes this

20 posts since 1/1/2006

I'll add my two cents worth. I agree with all the previous comments, but there is one thing I've noticed since I began using the Blue Chip thumbpick...I no longer "catch" the pick on a string. I was a longtime user of Golden Gate thumbpicks, but for some reason the tab on the top of the pick would sometimes grab the 5th or 4th string as I played and get stuck. I think the design of the Blue Chip pick keeps that from happening...at least it has for me. Like I said...just my two cents worth. "Keep your picks shiny" - Rick

Aug 22, 2019 - 6:30:02 AM

65 posts since 4/17/2014

I would only add that I have a JD Blue Chip (large) and I like it because of the fit. I had a hard time shaping plastic thumb pics to fit and they always felt tight. I’ve had mine for 5+ years and it’s great. I did find a resource on BHO for measuring your thumb for the right pick and that was helpful.

Aug 22, 2019 - 6:32:09 AM
like this

86 posts since 7/28/2019

Blue chip for the thumb and Shelor stainless for the fingers. Can't go wrong.

Aug 22, 2019 - 6:37:57 AM
likes this

47 posts since 3/10/2006

Skip hit it right on the head! Also, as a beginner, I'd save the $40 and invest in a lesson with a good teacher. Another point to consider is all the original banjo greats (Earl, J.D., Don Reno, Sonny, etc.) weren't using Blue Chips on their classic recordings. One could say, "Well, J.D. uses a Blue Chip now," but that's besides the point.

To address Rick's point about the band snagging on the string, here's a solution I found that works very well (at least for me). Heat the tip of a pair of needle-nose pliers in boiling water and then gently grab the edge of the thumb pick band (the porting wrapping around the top/nail side of the thumb) for a few second. Once the plastic has softened a bit, use the pliers to curl the band back into where it would sit on your thumb. I've found doing this causing the thumb pick to dig into the side of my thumb just enough to prevent the string from slipping underneath and snagging.

Aug 22, 2019 - 6:41:19 AM
like this

637 posts since 9/28/2006

The Blue Chip thumb pick and Sammy Shelor stainless steel finger picks are the most comfortable for me of any picks I have tried. (I see kmwaterstz and I share the same experience/conclusion.)
And true, as has been said, it is an individual matter as to what picks work best for each person.
The contours (especially the edges) of the Blue Chip and Sammy Shelor finger picks are comfortable for me because no edges dig into my thumb/fingers.

Aug 22, 2019 - 6:57:10 AM
likes this

Owen

Canada

3860 posts since 6/5/2011
Online Now

re. catching the band on a string... ACRI also has a solution.   

Not that it matters, but for ME, thinking I need a "Blue Chip" is like thinking I need a $50,000 banjo.  It ain't gonna happen ... not even if/when I win the lottery.

Aug 22, 2019 - 7:15:10 AM
like this

14248 posts since 12/2/2005

RE: catching the band...

I do think that Blue Chips make it a little easier to avoid doing this, primarily because the stainless band of the Blue Chip is much less thick than the bands on most plastic picks.

With that said: snagging the band is a technique issue with the right hand, generally caused by digging too deep and/or imprecise string strikes. From my perspective it's better to address the technique problem than to try a technological fix, which merely puts a band-aid on the underlying problem.

Aug 22, 2019 - 7:25:46 AM

hartley

Canada

85 posts since 1/23/2010

quote:
Originally posted by eagleisland

RE: catching the band...

I do think that Blue Chips make it a little easier to avoid doing this, primarily because the stainless band of the Blue Chip is much less thick than the bands on most plastic picks.

With that said: snagging the band is a technique issue with the right hand, generally caused by digging too deep and/or imprecise string strikes. From my perspective it's better to address the technique problem than to try a technological fix, which merely puts a band-aid on the underlying problem.


Aug 22, 2019 - 7:39:40 AM

5186 posts since 10/13/2007

quote:
Originally posted by eagleisland

RE: catching the band...

I do think that Blue Chips make it a little easier to avoid doing this, primarily because the stainless band of the Blue Chip is much less thick than the bands on most plastic picks.

With that said: snagging the band is a technique issue with the right hand, generally caused by digging too deep and/or imprecise string strikes. From my perspective it's better to address the technique problem than to try a technological fix, which merely puts a band-aid on the underlying problem.


I put and end to snagging by heating some needle nose pliers. (turn on your stove and leave them sit over the electric burner).  then i curled the top of the thumb wrap part of the finger pick in. Heat the pliers long enough so that the plastic bends easily when they are applied to it.  It not only prevents snags but keeps it more securely on the thumb.  Sorry for thread drift.

Ken

Aug 22, 2019 - 7:41:25 AM

hartley

Canada

85 posts since 1/23/2010

I too have switched to a blue chip . With regard to catching the 5 th string, when I used to use plastic picks I would mold them to my thumb by holding them by the blade with regular pliers in a pot of boiling water. Then bend the band using needle nose pliers . The heat can damage the pick but with practice you can get a pretty nice fit . (old school )

Aug 22, 2019 - 8:07:14 AM

20 posts since 7/20/2019

Propik is my choice for thumbpicks.

When I tried this pick
guptillmusic.com/propik-metal-thumb-pick
I fell in love. Even before I addressed my technique issue with the right hand it stopped the snagging some people here are addressing.
The tone is amazing, and you can bend the pick itself to fit whatever shape you want to get the best tone and easiest contact to slide off(Probably something you shouldn't mess with for a while) Your thumb wont change colors from being constricted and suffocated either.
I'm giving their plastic a try. Looks alot like the blue chip you are asking about.
guptillmusic.com/propik-metal-...humb-pick
Not that big of a fan, mostly because i've gotten used to the shape of all my picks i've used.

But the metal thumbpick is worth a try.

Aug 22, 2019 - 9:35:23 AM
likes this

kjcole

USA

1164 posts since 4/21/2003
Online Now

Like many others here I currently use a Blue Chip (and love it) but learned on a standard plastic thumb pick (complete with heat the pick to change the blade angle, etc). I'd recommend that a beginner focus more on proper mechanics for generating good tone than fall into the trap of 'gear solves everything.' Hand position working with pick geometry (or vice-versa) together determine tone more than anything else. Discovering those by yourself can be a hit-or-miss proposition, so a session with a knowledgeable instructor can work wonders. It all begins with that right hand and a rock-solid sense of timing. Then add the left hand (with apologies to southpaws).

Edited by - kjcole on 08/22/2019 09:36:39

Aug 22, 2019 - 10:01:08 AM
Players Union Member

jjonzee

USA

24 posts since 12/19/2010

Yes, they are worth the money...to me anyway.

Aug 22, 2019 - 10:19:06 AM

204 posts since 9/21/2018

I like mine. Given, I didn't buy it, even at 37 I can con my mom in to buying me ridiculous things for my birthday. That said, if I lost or broke it, I would buy one to replace it. All depends on what you like. The shape, length, and positioning of the pick is perfect for me, and the metal band is my preference for such.

Aug 22, 2019 - 10:58:17 AM
like this

37 posts since 8/15/2019

Thanks for all the replies! As a fly fishing fanatic, this reminds me of similar posts in fly fishing forums about scissors, vises, etc... LOL

Good advice from all and I do agree that I need to concentrate on technique as a beginner, but I also know that if you start fishing with a Wally World fly rod kit, soon you can wind up with bad habits due to inherent features of the cheapo rods.  That being said, I am really looking to find a better fit for my thumb, which I have had some luck with a Dunlop metal version.  That has helped me build some confidence and just "feels better" than some of the plastic ones I've tried.

Got to get in a short practice session in.  If you hear my basset hounds howling, I apologize.  They may accompany me at any time... LOL

Aug 22, 2019 - 11:03:36 AM

116 posts since 6/22/2012

The biggest problem I have with thumb picks is I wind up buying a whole bunch to find a couple I use. Right now I have some I will never use.

I should trade unused with someone else in the same boat and we can both hope ;)

Aug 22, 2019 - 11:05:38 AM

jbgreen

USA

245 posts since 3/6/2013
Online Now

I love them. I think I'm on my third one.

Aug 22, 2019 - 11:10:01 AM

116 posts since 6/22/2012

How do you know you will like it unless you tried it at a festival or somewhere?
Thumbs, hands and preferences vary. No matter what it costs, it may be less comfortable than a $1 pick.

I think I'd need to try one on, like fitting shoes.

Edited by - sirtwangalot on 08/22/2019 11:10:30

Aug 22, 2019 - 11:39:18 AM

319 posts since 1/28/2013

I had a Dunlop all metal and liked it. I went to a Blue Chip J.D. Crowe but had to sand the blade shorter. The tone is the same. Blue Chip is light and comfortable, that's about all I can say about it. I use Hyatt finger picks. They are $40 also.

Aug 22, 2019 - 12:44 PM

496 posts since 9/22/2012

Love it...both JD crowe and Russ carson blends. Never catches the band. I think I have 6 of them now....

Page: 1  2   3   Next Page   Last Page (3) 

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.515625