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I should know more about finger picks

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Oct 20, 2019 - 5:00:23 AM
568 posts since 10/10/2004

I've been picking since a kid when my brother gave me 1 metal finger pick and 1 plastic thumb pick to use on a guitar. A few years later I discovered 3 finger style. Not till the late 90's did I start picking a banjo. I've used the same set on guitar and banjo. The current pair are Dunlop .020's that I have used as long as I can remember.
I've tried to bend up a new pair many times but never get them comfortable enough to retire the old pair. They are either too tight where they hurt or not tight enough and they don't feel secure. I have almost a lifetime supply of the .020's because I bought a whole sleeve of them years ago.
I stay with the old set but know there is something better. I should try other brands and gauges.

Oct 20, 2019 - 6:26:53 AM

Fathand

Canada

11502 posts since 2/7/2008

I think you will find most bluegrass players prefer the thicker .025 gauge. I did use .0225 for a long time but as my hands got stronger I started to feel them flexing as I played and didn't like it.

You can also get Dunlops in Brass and Stainless. The Brass sound nice and warm to me and are easy to bend into shape but start to flex again. The Stainless are a bit stiffer than the original Nickel Silver but sound harsh to me.

Last ones I ordered from Elderly were 75 cents each so you can afford to buy several and experiment.

Oct 20, 2019 - 7:03:43 AM

geemott

USA

236 posts since 7/7/2005

I think P. G. Wodehouse wrote a golf story about a fellow who hit a hole-in-one on his first try. He went mad spending the rest of his life trying to hit another one.
Be careful not to be that guy.
You are lucky you have found something that works for you. Me, I never touched a banjo until I was 50, and in the following 14 years have acquired a set of just about every style of fingerpick there is. Ain't none of 'em do what I want. (Maybe it's me? Nah, that can't be it.)

Oct 20, 2019 - 7:06:37 AM

Dragonslayer

Mozambique

150 posts since 10/9/2019

When I used nationals, I preferred the .016 gauge IIRC, because I could bend them into shape. I haven't been able to bend the .020 into shape properly. But I was given a set of Sammy Shelor picks and I use those exclusively now. They're so comfortable

Oct 20, 2019 - 7:28:52 AM

1300 posts since 2/10/2013

I use Showcase 1941 fingerpicks. In my case, I just kept trying different kinds of picks, one set at at a time, until I found something I liked. A person has to provide enough time to become adjusted to something different. I also use "simichrome" to periodically remove corrosion and allow fingerpicks to have a better chance of sounding better. You don't think your fingerpicks are tarnished, but clean a little while and you are surprised by bad they were.

I ignore endorsements. What is fine for someone else doesn't mean it is the right thing for you.

Oct 20, 2019 - 7:36:29 AM

14347 posts since 12/2/2005

Fingerpicks are a deeply personal thing, and everyone has their favorites.

Tell you what, though - although I don't personally use them anymore (I did for about five years) I do think quite highly of the split-band Pro-Piks, to the extent that I recommend them to my students who are just starting out.

The thing I like about them is that the split bands make it very easy to shape them precisely to your fingers, so you can make them very comfortable with minimal risk of slippage. They're really easy to adjust.

The do come in a variety of blade shapes, gauges and even metals. They're not expensive. If you're looking to fiddle around with different picks (and I think everyone should have at least one backup set) I suggest you give these a try.

Oct 20, 2019 - 7:48:54 AM
Players Union Member

banjoec

USA

568 posts since 10/10/2004

Thanks for some good feedback.
I can understand when you say Flexing. That is the "Don't feel secure" feeling I mentioned. I will try polishing the existing set and also try a thicker gauge set. I'd like to try the Sammy Shelor picks too.

Oct 20, 2019 - 8:01:11 AM

14347 posts since 12/2/2005

quote:
Originally posted by banjoec

Thanks for some good feedback.
I can understand when you say Flexing. That is the "Don't feel secure" feeling I mentioned. I will try polishing the existing set and also try a thicker gauge set. I'd like to try the Sammy Shelor picks too.


If you've got the coin to do so, why not? I moved from the Pro-Piks to the Shelors and haven't looked back. But again: picks are very personal things, and what one person likes another may not. The good news with the Shelors is that if it turns out you don't like them you can probably sell them here on the Hangout classifieds and recoup a fair amount of your money.

Oct 20, 2019 - 8:12:59 AM

610 posts since 11/7/2003

quote:
Originally posted by eagleisland
quote:
Originally posted by banjoec

Thanks for some good feedback.
I can understand when you say Flexing. That is the "Don't feel secure" feeling I mentioned. I will try polishing the existing set and also try a thicker gauge set. I'd like to try the Sammy Shelor picks too.


I moved from the Pro-Piks to the Shelors and haven't looked back.


+1 for both the split wrap ProPiks and Shelors.  I used the ProPiks for years until I discovered the wide band Shelors, they sound good to me and are the most comfortable I've ever used.  But Skip's right, it's a very personal thing, the only way to know is to try 'em.

Oct 20, 2019 - 3:40:14 PM

2709 posts since 5/29/2011

I am 55 years old and I have used the same set of Dunlop picks(.025 gauge) since I was in high school, metal thumb pick and all. Only in recent years have I started using .018 gauge finger picks and a Dr. Sherpa metal thumb pick. They are my go to picks now but I still get the old set out and use them once in a while.

Point is, if Dunlop picks work for you, they are as good as anything else on the market. Nationals, Sammy Shelor's, Roy's Own, and many other brands are great picks but they are no good if you can't get used to them. All you will be doing is spending money.

Edited by - Culloden on 10/20/2019 15:46:12

Oct 20, 2019 - 3:55:43 PM
Players Union Member

banjoec

USA

568 posts since 10/10/2004

Getting a 2nd pair to fit right is my goal. Seems the new sets have a flair on the side band that I don't like. Like they are made to stack together in the tube. I've tried to bend that out with pliers.

Oct 25, 2019 - 6:49:02 PM

mrbook

USA

1957 posts since 2/22/2006

I started out with Nationals in the 1960s. The new regular Nationals seem a little too stiff to me, but I like the new National NP2s. They feel and sound good for my playing, and they are cheap enough that I can keep a pair or two in all my banjo, guitar, and dobro cases. I bought a set of Showcase 1941s and really like them, but only bought one pair, and now that I want another I haven't been able to find them. I lose one now and then taking them off in the dark, but so far the missing one always turns up in my banjo case. Dunlops never seem to fit me as well, but I have done a little more adjusting with a pair of pliers and they seem to be better lately. They are about the only ones sold at my local music shop. I have tried the cobalt plated ones and am still not sure how I feel about them. I got some brass Dunlops once, and thought my playing sounded dull, but others really like them.

There are a lot of different picks, and they all sound different with different banjos and different players. I think it's more important to have a pair that is so comfortable you don't think about wearing them. Once you decide on finger picks, you can start the search for the perfect thumb pick.

Oct 26, 2019 - 3:05:22 PM

155 posts since 10/6/2011

I got tired of finger picks and thumb picks that would not work or stay on so I invinted a entirly different design, These are so unique that they each have a US.Patent. They can be seen to your left and if you would like to see a video Google, Saddle thumb picks videos. If you want to make your finger picks stiffer I can tell you a easy way to do that with a screw driver. The problem is not so much stifness as it is the base of the pick is not long enugh to prevent tipping when you pick the strings.

Oct 29, 2019 - 1:40:23 PM
Players Union Member

banjoec

USA

568 posts since 10/10/2004

Problem solved. I ordered 4 different sets of finger picks. Thankfully one of them was Sammy Shelor picks. What a difference and comfortable too.

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