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Mar 31, 2020 - 10:56:06 AM
24 posts since 4/29/2012

I wanted to try Dunlop Ultex thumb picks but like many found the shape of the band caused an uncomfortably tight fit for either the medium or large size. I tried the boiling water fix, but the ultex doesn't relax at that temperature. I read a post by someone that said ultex picks needed to be heated to 400+ degrees. I tried a hair dryer but that didn't seem to work very well, and I tried a flame which does work however is very hard to control. I picked up a Papa Murphy's pizza and thought while my oven was preheating to 425 degrees that I'd try the oven after the pizza was done. I found a 1/8" thick by 1 1/4" round washer to which I attached a small C clamp. I placed a thumb pick over the washer, which caused the band to open up by 1/8". I suggest putting the C clamp/washer/pick assembly inside a small baking pan or the like so if the pick falls off after it warms it won't end up in the bottom of the oven. I tried several picks, both mediums and larges, and tried times of 1, 1 1/2 and 2 minutes heating time. All three times worked so probably 1 minute is plenty if the oven is 425 degrees. The bands now have a full 1/8" gap between the pick and band and even the medium picks, which have a shape and size I prefer, are now comfortable. Instead of a round washer, I would suggest a square piece of oven safe material that is the correct thickness so the pick won't fall off after it relaxes. A word of caution: do NOT place the hot pick on your thumb until it cools! Now if I just had a silicone model of my thumb I could shape the picks even more precisely, but this method does work for now. Perhaps the intelligencia here at the forum can improve on this system.

Mar 31, 2020 - 1:00:55 PM



548 posts since 1/11/2005

They are difficult to reshape, but I found if you boil them in water and use two pair of needle nose pliers you can reshape them, even bending the blade to desired angles if you prefer the "Zookie" shape.

Mar 31, 2020 - 4:01:17 PM



11581 posts since 2/7/2008

Some thumbpicks can be bent easily after a few seconds in the microwave.

Mar 31, 2020 - 5:14:56 PM

163 posts since 10/6/2011

Have you ever looked at the SADDLE thumb picks? They are one size fits all , won't come off on the back stroke off if you snage it on a string. they are in the photo to your left and you can Google them. Go to Saddle thumb picks videos.

Mar 31, 2020 - 6:34:46 PM

573 posts since 11/21/2018

Dang, I invented those (saddle picks) just the other day in my daydreaming! Looks like someone beat me to it ;-)
Here's a review by a pedal steel player:
I'd be interested in hearing from people who use these for banjo.

Wow Tom, that was a lot of work! I'm in Anacortes if you'd like to PM and say hi, while our sheltering in place goes on. Maybe we've already "met" at the 5 Starr Bellingham Jams? Didn't remember seeing a Fender Artist though... time to 3D print a copy of your thumb? ;-)

Apr 1, 2020 - 5:53:04 AM
likes this

2674 posts since 11/15/2003
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Nothing to do with banjos is worth that much trouble...

Find another thumb pick!


Apr 1, 2020 - 9:02:39 AM



24 posts since 4/29/2012

My gamer thumb pick has been a Blue Chip JD for several years, but I do like the sound of the Ultex picks. Since I could do half a dozen picks (or more) at once with the oven technique and it only takes a couple of minutes to set up and one minute to loosen the bands it's really not that time consuming, especially if you eat a Papa Murphy's pizza and the oven is already heated. Keith, did you place the pick in boiling water and continue to let it boil? If so, how long did you leave it in the water? I found the usual 5-10 second dunk in hot (not boiling) water to be totally ineffective.

Apr 1, 2020 - 3:37:58 PM



548 posts since 1/11/2005

Thom, I gave them maybe 20 sec. but I'm sure you can leave them a lot longer because they sure don't go slack by themselves like other makes. I also like their tone better, but that's just my choice, everyone has their own.

Apr 3, 2020 - 1:43:03 PM

163 posts since 10/6/2011

The above review by Greg Cutshaw was done by a Steel Guitar player in 2011 with the first design.
The product was re-designed in 2012 to work better with guitar as well as other instruments it worked great for me on the banjo but the original design would hook in the strings when guitar players rotated the pick face to duplicate the position of previous thumb picks. The Patent was issued in 2013 and I have a folder full of customers who would not purchases any other thumb picks. SADDLE picks are Nylon and don't break.
I have records of a banjo picker who has been using the same pick sense 2012.
This pick has the same problem as all thumb picks in that the average thumb has a 5 to 7 degree taper , but 10% of the thumbs have a greater taper on the sides of there thumb and no pick will stay on a "A" shape thumb. There a lot of reviews here on the hangout, Cutshaw was the only one mentioned here. and he did not play the banjo.

Edited by - Richard McVicker on 04/03/2020 13:44:45

Apr 4, 2020 - 2:45:25 PM



495 posts since 7/13/2005

This was quick and solved the problem.

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