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Sep 13, 2020 - 9:11:22 AM
60 posts since 3/9/2008

What's the best thumb pick out there? I've heard the Blue Chip is and if so how do I know what size?

Sep 13, 2020 - 9:14:28 AM

21 posts since 5/1/2016

Each individual probably has a preference. Mine is a Large National. They fit my thumb well, don't cut off the blood flow and don't slip off....

Sep 13, 2020 - 9:28:38 AM
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3339 posts since 5/29/2011

You are opening up a can of worms here. You will get as many opinions as there are people who reply to this post and you won't know a bit more than when you asked. Everyone has their own preference but what works well for one person won't work as well for another. My personal preference is a metal Dunlop that I have used for forty years but most people on here wouldn't have a metal thumb pick.

Sep 13, 2020 - 9:37 AM
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60 posts since 3/9/2008

I've been playing for 35 years and I use a metal pick too but I've been hearing a lot about the Blue Chip pick. Just wanted to basically see if that came up so I guess it was a trick question.. ????

Sep 13, 2020 - 12:11:17 PM
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261 posts since 10/4/2018

Everybody and their cousin has their own favorite thumb pick. I like my Fred Kelly Delrin, the white one. Try as many as you can to see which is the best for you.
Now if you want to talk toothpicks, you should try DenTek Tripple Clean Floss picks. You won't find a better toothpick out there. They're minty flavored too!

Sep 13, 2020 - 2:57:15 PM
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2283 posts since 4/5/2006

I dunno, I'm old. Last time I bought thumb picks, they were what, maybe a quarter a piece? I probably bought a couple bucks worth. I think they were Dunlop, Dobro, something like that. Plain white nylon, some kind of plastic, one size fits all. If not, Earl told how to heat it over a steaming tea kettle & tweak it to suit. I always had to trim the back edge of the wrap around the thumb, which is how I can tell if I have "tweaked" it or not. Cut some grooves on the inside ala Scruggs, to help keep them from slipping. At $0.25/piece, you can try a lot of picks to find what works for you. Oh I forgot, I do have a set of Pro Picks. Bought them from Dave as he was a friend of mine. Tried them once or twice, not bad, but I'm used to what I'm used to.

You used to see guys would have two or three extra thumb picks on the tension hooks of their banjo, just in case one went missing. At the price they're getting for some thumb picks today, I doubt you'll see many  people carrying "spares" on their tension hooks. I would be so upset if one of those high dollar picks went missing, I wouldn't be worth a tinker's damn for weeks.    

Sep 13, 2020 - 3:02:13 PM
Players Union Member



1559 posts since 6/20/2014

I have used Nationals for years always liked the fit. I picked up a barely used Blue Chip from a friend for half the normal price and absolutely fell in love with how comfortable it was and totally amazed at the tone I could get. The real plus was I have been picking with this pick now for almost 3 years and it shows very little wear on the tip. Now by this time I would have worn out at least a dozen of my National Thumb Picks. YES, the Blue Chips are expensive but they will outlast a plastic thumb pick ten times over plus the better feel and tone you get when using one.....IMO.

Sep 13, 2020 - 3:14:04 PM

13353 posts since 10/30/2008

I like the large Golden Gate "clown barf" thumb picks, but over the years I've used delrin Nationals, Gibsons, Dunlaps etc of similar shape.

The last "different" thumb pick I used was in the 1980s when the rage was the sky blue slimm-ish NYLON thumb picks -- they were also very popular with country steel players. I think the brand might have been Herco? They weren't all that stiff, so I was happier with the large clown barf type when they came out, and I've stuck with them because they've been very consistent.

Sep 13, 2020 - 3:28:25 PM

2176 posts since 1/16/2010

I’m not a fan of the Blue Chip pick. Tried one several years ago, wasn’t “wowed”. Way too expensive...didn’t feel or fit well to my liking, didn’t produce the sound I was after.

Fred Kelly delrin thumb picks give the best tone to my tinnitus stricken ears. Although they take getting used to with a shorter shank.

I like the Golden Gates for my gut string guitar playing.

Sep 13, 2020 - 3:31:51 PM
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4312 posts since 5/29/2004

Blue Chip every time, well worth the expense..

Sep 13, 2020 - 5:59:07 PM

570 posts since 1/28/2013

Originally posted by Culloden

You are opening up a can of worms here. You will get as many opinions as there are people who reply to this post and you won't know a bit more than when you asked. Everyone has their own preference but what works well for one person won't work as well for another. My personal preference is a metal Dunlop that I have used for forty years but most people on here wouldn't have a metal thumb pick.

I used a Metal Dunlop for years, but went to a Bluechip about a year ago. I have no problem with either one. Some players say the you get a different sound on the 4 th string with a non-metal pick, and that it brings out the bass more. But I barely hear a difference if at all.  

Sep 13, 2020 - 7:33:31 PM

506 posts since 6/2/2011

I like the zkel Koydon large thumb pick from American Banjo. I tried Dunlop, Nationals and Golden Gate. I tried fitting them not too succesvilly using HOT water, the ones from AMB fit right out of the box for me. Plus, the are longer lasting than the others and tend to match tone with my oval 8’s or Kyser metal finger picks.
After a lot of searching I found MY thumb pick.
P.S. I used Bluechip picks on guitar and Mandolin, but like my plast KK’s from AMB too much to want to change.

Sep 14, 2020 - 6:11:59 AM

2159 posts since 2/10/2013

Once I started using "Golden Gate" thumbpicks I haven't had any reason to switch. But when ordering them, be aware that the "Large" size is really a medium. I don't know what size thumbpick someone with a really big thumb would require.

Sep 14, 2020 - 6:39:51 PM



755 posts since 8/28/2011

I think the main thing is find a pick with the correct length point. med nationals fit me the best. even though i like tortoise- like guitar picks and will pay for them, i could never bring myself to do so with banjo thumbpicks. id rather have a bag full of nationals with several hangin on my brackets. bluechip prob the best, but its like capo's. some folks would never pay for a mckinneyof which i have 3. hey but thats banjo pickers and their quirky ways for you...

Sep 14, 2020 - 7:17:36 PM
Players Union Member



577 posts since 10/10/2004

I have a large Blue Chip thumb pick sitting in a box somewhere. It didn't fit securely. Every other brand of thumb pick in large fits fine. My current favorite is Fred Kelly Delrin Slick picks in heavy gauge.

Sep 15, 2020 - 4:22:57 PM
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7103 posts since 11/4/2005

I've been picking for over 50 years. I am still jere to tell you that there is no best thumb pick out there, it depends on the picking style and taste of each individual musician what is best for them. Over the years, I have tried a bunch, metal and plastic. but never tried the Blue Chip, I just can't see paying $40 for something I am might lose after a few weeks.  About 20 years ago, I settled on the Herco Blue Flex thumbpick, and bought a couple of dozen.  Still working through that batch.  I've been extremely happy wth them; comfortable, with just the right balance/compromise of warm tone and crisp clarity that I am looking for.  But I'm not a Scruggs picker, or even a bluegrass picker, anymore.  But for 69 cents each, you can afford to experiment.  I was pleased at one point to learn that my great banjo hero, Jim Reed of Sidney, Kentucky, uses a Herco Blue Flex also.

Edited by - Don Borchelt on 09/15/2020 16:26:11

Sep 15, 2020 - 7:17:44 PM

464 posts since 1/24/2004

I recently tried Dunlop Ultex thumbpicks on Gabe Hirshfeld's recommendation and really like them. I've been using the first one for six weeks now and it isn't any more worn than my BlueChip was at the same point. They're also more comfortable and secure feeling to me and are $1.19 apiece. They're worth a try.

Sep 15, 2020 - 11:55:32 PM

473 posts since 2/5/2014

I used Dunlop picks when I first started playing banjo. I snipped off the end and filed it smooth. I happily used those shortened picks for a few years.
Then I began fingerpicking a guitar, but didn’t like the feel of the short picks. Now I use medium Nationals, and oddly, I prefer them when playing my banjo as well.

Edited by - talljoey on 09/15/2020 23:56:07

Sep 16, 2020 - 9:07:48 AM



1344 posts since 11/3/2016

Don ,
Thankyou for the link on the blue Herco picks . 

Ive been using these I think since they first came on the market & need some more . (I'll be 82)
To keep them on my thumb , I add thin foam double sided tape & trim it to the inside of the pick .
I like these picks as they offer a little flexibility & don't get rough & scratchy during normal wear as I have always picked rather aggressively .

Another comment , I think I recently read that Stoneham Ma is now the home (or maybe has been ) of The All American Banjo Company ? i recently purchased a used but like new KK10 Charlie Cushman model banjo & love it ! 

Edited by - heavy5 on 09/16/2020 09:17:56

Sep 18, 2020 - 7:49:12 PM



179 posts since 6/6/2006

Blue Chip & Golden Gate “clown barf” are my favorite.

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