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Jan 17, 2021 - 11:15:42 AM
2 posts since 4/4/2020

Anyone else have thumb pick issues with it hanging on other strings?
Also, how do you determine what right fingers to place on the banjo head? I've tried both and none feels comfortable. Will it be easier as I continue? Total newbie!!

Jan 17, 2021 - 11:34:27 AM

63 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by JanieE408

Anyone else have thumb pick issues with it hanging on other strings?
Also, how do you determine what right fingers to place on the banjo head? I've tried both and none feels comfortable. Will it be easier as I continue? Total newbie!!


Hi Jamie

I trim away some of the plastic hook with nail clippers then file the edges smooth. Be careful not to cut off too much. A bit trial and error is required.  Your picking angle can cause this problem too, so don't go in too deeply between the strings. 

As for fingers on the head the goal of most banjo pickers is to have the pinky and ring finger on the head, but if you can only place one I'd opt for the ring finger since that is the only finger that is likely to interfere with the first string.  It does feel uncomfortable at first but stick with it and soon it will feel right like an old pair of slippers

Edited by - FenderFred on 01/17/2021 11:36:49

Jan 17, 2021 - 11:35:58 AM

15090 posts since 12/2/2005

quote:
Originally posted by JanieE408

Anyone else have thumb pick issues with it hanging on other strings?
Also, how do you determine what right fingers to place on the banjo head? I've tried both and none feels comfortable. Will it be easier as I continue? Total newbie!!


Welcome, Janie - both the Hangout and the banjo itself.

You are describing two very common challenges for new players.

Let's talk about the pick snagging first. What that tells you is that you're digging too deeply. There are mechanical fixes - including picks with metal bands (thinner) and shaping the inside of the band by snipping off the corner where you're snagging. But realisitically, the fundamental problem remains: digging too deeply. And this brings is directly to the second issue: finger planting.

Do you NEED to plant fingers? No, but if you're digging too deeply anyway it's a good habit to develop. There are three options: plant both the ring and the pinky; plant just the ring; plant just the pinky. Top pros typically use one of these three.

Planting a finger or two gives stability, and helps you shape your picking hand. If you can imagine it: working from your plant, can you position your hand so that a tennis ball could fit between your palm and the head of the banjo, if the strings weren't in the way? That's not a bad way to visualize things.

There are no magic bullets to solve either of these problems. The first is being aware of them - which you are - and then practicing and developing solid right hand technique so that neither of these problems will be a bother in the future. It will take time, and practice. But learning the banjo is a process, not an event.

Jan 17, 2021 - 3:31:51 PM

234 posts since 4/14/2014

Good advice all around. I'd also add that I spent a long while searching for the ideal thumbpick. I prefer one with little clearance because I like to dig in more and often play without picks. I found the Fred Kelly and Propiks to be preferable.

So, in case it's not yet been said, I'd add exploring different thumbpick makers and shapes to the list.

Edited by - Nic Pennsylvania on 01/17/2021 15:32:41

Jan 17, 2021 - 3:40:10 PM

234 posts since 4/14/2014

On the subject of planting your fingers - I tell folks starting out that planting your fingers helps give your hand a point of reference, which can help you from hitting the wrong string. Planting can also provide some additional leverage. That said, you don't have to plant at all and can keep a "floating hand" though it may take longer for you to develop a sense of confidence with the picking hand.

Classical guitarists like Segovia were real strict about maintaining a floating hand, but plenty of great fingerpicking guitarists plant a finger or two. I believe classic banjists have had this conversation as well. I'm sure Joel Hooks or another person deep in classic banjo and banjo history could shed some light on that.

Edited by - Nic Pennsylvania on 01/17/2021 15:40:31

Jan 17, 2021 - 4:50:26 PM

beegee

USA

22188 posts since 7/6/2005

You don't have to plant your fingers, but doing so correctly will give your picking steadiness and drive. I plant primarily the ring finger and pinky, and that is predicated on having enough arch to your wrist (see Skip's comment on the tennis ball) so as to have the most concentrated area of contact for your TIM. Economy of motion is the key.

Correctly-fitted fingerpicks and thumbpick are essential. You can heat your thumbpick in hot water and bend it to whatever angle gives you a solid square contact with the string and you can shape the blade by sanding, making sure to polish when the final shape is reached. If you have small fingers, consider the Dunlop mini-fingerpicks.

Edited by - beegee on 01/17/2021 16:51:34

Jan 17, 2021 - 10:45:58 PM
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rvrose

USA

778 posts since 6/29/2007

I get the orange Fred Kelly speed picks. They come in different sizes. It helped me with same problem. But as stated above mostly practice will help.

Edited by - rvrose on 01/17/2021 22:46:37

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