Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!
Feb 22, 2020 - 1:35:53 PM
9 posts since 8/27/2019

Hey folks,

I am about 7 months in using the Brainjo method. I am using my middle finger for my down picking finger, but have recently been trying with my index as well. (I am also re-learning 3-finger style..) I want to have options as I get more experience in playing as I love all kinds of banjo picking. I'd love to know what y'all are doing out there!


Feb 22, 2020 - 3:18:30 PM
like this
Players Union Member

R Buck


2743 posts since 9/5/2006

Yes. I use both at different times.

Feb 22, 2020 - 3:38:13 PM
like this

3784 posts since 10/13/2005

Type that question into "Q" to the left of this page, keep you busy a few evenings. banjered

Feb 22, 2020 - 3:42:06 PM
likes this

517 posts since 10/21/2012

First middle, then changed to index. I can pretty much use either, but prefer the index.

I started with my middle, because my hands are very small and I didn't have to stretch my hand so much when picking the lowest string. Using the index caused a lot of tension in my hand when plucking the lowest string.

After a few years I needed to rest the middle for medical reasons, so started using the index. I found that the stretch no longer stressed my hand, and my melody notes were louder. I've stayed with the index because of the better sound.

Feb 22, 2020 - 4:19:55 PM
likes this

11 posts since 2/16/2020

Index, but I play thumb lead 90% of the time. I just can't do it otherwise.

Feb 22, 2020 - 6:28:33 PM
like this

490 posts since 8/14/2018

I use my middle finger mainly. I find I can more easily control the position and strength of the picking without unnecessary tension.

Feb 22, 2020 - 7:35:25 PM
likes this

Bill Rogers (Moderator)


23228 posts since 6/25/2005

I use both. Almost always middle on the 1st string and index on the inside strings. If I break a nail, I’ll use the intact nail for everything. I’ll also play the 1st string with my ring finger on occasion.

Feb 23, 2020 - 3:16:36 AM
likes this

4791 posts since 5/14/2007

I can use both, but mostly use the index. I also do light brushes with my ring finger. (Long boring story behind that.)

Feb 23, 2020 - 6:03:04 AM
likes this



963 posts since 3/22/2017

Index is good, my middle finger only works if I tilt the neck way up, for some reason.

Feb 23, 2020 - 9:36:44 AM
like this

3910 posts since 11/29/2005

I started with my index finger, but soon changed to my middle finger after my brother showed me (had me listen to) the difference in tone. To us, the middle finger produces a mellower tone than the index, and that is what I prefer.

I can use the index when I feel the need for a brighter tone, usually along with moving the hand closer to the neck.

Feb 23, 2020 - 10:23:33 AM
likes this

89 posts since 3/16/2014

I use whichever finger has enough nail at any given time. I prefer the index finger for tone and subtle striking, and the middle finger for driving thru the other instruments in a band situation. Sometimes i switch between them depending on what string im fretting. In jams I sometimes find myself using my middle on the first string while my index does the rest, but that might be a bad habit. The other advantage (or disservice depending on sensibility) of the middle finger is for clucking, at least the way i do it.. I'd think that developing the use of both fingers to be a great benefit overall, and if nails are like mine, a necessity. And as Banjo Brad points out, there is definitely a difference in tone between the two to be played with. More tricks in the bag as some say..

Feb 23, 2020 - 3:22:41 PM
likes this



7271 posts since 9/29/2004


Feb 23, 2020 - 3:51:54 PM
likes this



3000 posts since 8/7/2008
Online Now


Feb 23, 2020 - 6:00:23 PM
like this

Paul R


12438 posts since 1/28/2010


I used the middle finger, but it splits up the middle, so I had to train the index. If the middle is in good shape I can use it for a bit until it splits again. Having two is good 'cause you have one available when the other shuts down.

I also do a bit of two-finger thumb lead, also three-finger with fingerpicks.

This topic comes up fairly frequently.

Feb 23, 2020 - 9:39:18 PM
likes this

Jim Yates


6640 posts since 2/21/2007

I use the middle for clawhammer.

Feb 24, 2020 - 7:06:53 AM

9 posts since 8/27/2019

Thanks everyone! I will search the Q box too, banjered!

Feb 24, 2020 - 8:38:43 AM

6417 posts since 6/27/2009

I started with index and switched to middle. It feels more balanced to me. If my middle finger nail breaks, I use a plastic Alaska pick.

Feb 25, 2020 - 3:31:21 AM



8416 posts since 10/5/2006


But I can pick just fine with my index too. I just prefer middle.

Feb 25, 2020 - 5:24:11 AM
like this

3809 posts since 5/12/2010

As a beginner it is a good idea to practice alternating between index and middle. Later on you will have an extra tool in your kit. Many experieced players use both to good advantage.

I mostly use my index to pick melody notes, and my middle to brush and sometimes add notes on the counter beat similar to what many use drop thumb for.

I also sometimes use my other fingers on brushes and other embellishments.

Edited by - OldPappy on 02/25/2020 05:25:41

Feb 25, 2020 - 12:11:10 PM

160 posts since 12/9/2012

I started ala. Seeger and Perlman and the 60's/70's ilk, and use my middle. As time has gone by, the habit has proven useful. I have diversified my rudiments and genre. Preserving a down stroke only finger, preserves a traditional rudiment, having it be the middle finger frees up the index and thumb for other rudiments, and leaves open the possibility of exploration and expression in other trad genre.

Feb 25, 2020 - 9:51:31 PM
like this

Bart Veerman


4557 posts since 1/5/2005

You have four fingers available to choose from: index, middle, ring and little.


  • tone
  • volume
  • playability
  • condition of nail
  • durability of nail

Let your own hand and fingers tell you what's best for you. It wouldn't hurt to train at least one other finger as a spare in case whatever prevents you from using your main finger.

If you also happen to play 3-finger style then using your ring finger lets you keep your picks on so you can switch back and forth between clawhammer and 3-finger on the fly.

Mar 1, 2020 - 6:17:42 PM

5 posts since 2/28/2020

I am relatively new to clawhammer. Started out using my middle finger, then switched to index after breaking my nail. I really like the idea of using 3rd finger and switching back and forth.

Mar 1, 2020 - 6:39:56 PM

118 posts since 1/2/2019

When I started I tried playing with both, but the middle finger eventually won out - it just feels much more natural to me. I suggest trying both, but eventually one will feel more natural to you.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories