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Jun 15, 2021 - 11:47:46 AM
5 posts since 1/22/2016

Why are the old National finger picks sought after by banjo players? Are they better than other modern available finger picks? If they are better, why don't they still make them? Another question: What causes finger pick chirp? Some of my banjos have the chirp and others don't. All have the same strings and I use Dunlop .0225 finger picks.

Jun 15, 2021 - 12:15:53 PM
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6283 posts since 9/21/2007

They are made out of magical metal. WW2 set off vibrations that recalibrated the aura and crystallization of metal mixed before the war started. These vibrations aligned the natural energy of the metal producing the exact tone that Earl Sgruggs wanted.

All metal made after WW2 has not be calibrated with the vibrations of that specific war. Since the process of fabricating the picks (or banjo parts) negates the vibrations, only parts made before the war will have the special vibrations.

Also a big factor is that before WW2 each foundry employed an alchemist to mix the metals. These metal formulas were protected by a secret collective of alchemists, which were part of the Illuminati, that all vowed that their metal formulas would die with them. The art of mixing metals has been lost and now modern scientists only attempt to get close with lab analysis of pre war metals.

No post war metals will have the correct vibrations or crystallization (unless Earl used the picks, he had the power to change the crystallization of metal).

This is similar to wood used in factory floors and reclaimed to make $50 banjo bridges.

I have read that soaking all of your banjo picks in colloidal silver potion will help achieve the pre war sound.

Jun 15, 2021 - 12:33:38 PM
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2114 posts since 4/18/2006

While some don't or can't hear or feel the difference, the old pre-usa nationals (my favorite are the oval 8's,) for whatever reason, do sound more complex and direct, and they respond quicker, and feel softer and more comfortable than any other finger pick. There are some new picks that come close in tone to me, but none that have matched that super quick easy response that those old oval 8 nationals have. I've tried basically every pick available and haven't been able to find one that has that feel. It's funny that people get up and arms about whether they are different or not.

As for pick chirp, this can be tricky to get rid of. IMO it's a technique thing. I found that the longer the face of the blade of my pick is in contact with the string, and how it hits the string, cause the chirp (especially on more resonant banjos.) I found that bending the picks up a little bit more and working on making my finger movements as deliberate and with as little extra motion as possible (and thinking of it as more brushing the string with the pick than picking the string) I cut down on pick chirp quite a bit.

Edited by - banjo1930 on 06/15/2021 12:34:19

Jun 15, 2021 - 2:01:54 PM

5 posts since 1/22/2016

Thanks Gabe. Excellent answers. I once had a sound engineer complain about my pick chirping. Didn't know how to stop it. It seems more prevalent on maple banjos, but I can see how bending the pick more could deaden the vibrations. I'll try that or just have to live with the chirping. I never noticed it until the sound engineer mentioned it.

Jun 15, 2021 - 3:25:57 PM

653 posts since 8/14/2018

quote:
Originally posted by banjo1930

While some don't or can't hear or feel the difference, the old pre-usa nationals (my favorite are the oval 8's,) for whatever reason, do sound more complex and direct, and they respond quicker, and feel softer and more comfortable than any other finger pick. There are some new picks that come close in tone to me, but none that have matched that super quick easy response that those old oval 8 nationals have. I've tried basically every pick available and haven't been able to find one that has that feel. It's funny that people get up and arms about whether they are different or not.
 


Listening to your demo video, I can hear differences between the different picks, but I'd be hard pressed to say which was 'better'. I guess it comes down to personal preference and the context of what you're trying to do musically. I have Yates picks and a set of Showcase 1941s myself.

I have to admit I don't quite get what you mean by 'respond quicker'. I mean, I guess depending on the material and thickness of the pick, the pick would deflect a tiny bit when you pluck it against the string. Do you feel a drag when it does this?

Jun 15, 2021 - 5:01:08 PM

2114 posts since 4/18/2006

I guess what I mean is that they respond easier than other picks. I feel like I have to put in a noticeable (small, but any amount of resistance will hinder) amount more of effort behind each pluck of the string with other picks (some more than others) whereas the oval 8's have the least amount of that resistance.  That being said, this is so minimal that a lot of people wouldn't care or notice, but, personally, being a fairly light player, I am very sensitive to it.

Just like with the "pre-war tone"argument, imo, it has just as much to do with the feel of the thing than the tone of it.

Edited by - banjo1930 on 06/15/2021 17:02:21

Jun 15, 2021 - 6:23:14 PM

14072 posts since 10/30/2008

Pick squeak or chirp is a damned hard thing to deal with, once you learn to hear it at all.

I find it more noticeable when I'm playing alone at home, sitting down, playing rather "easily". I think if you stand up on your hind feet in an outdoor jam pick squeak (if any) kind of disappears with the power and excitement of playing in that situation.

For the last few decades I've used. 0.0225" Dunlop picks strictly because they bend to more finger shaper more comfortably. I have some old Nation 0.025" and also modern Dunlops of that thickness. The "comfort" factor is more metal thickness than anything else. Recently I have followed Gabe's advice and bent the blades up more toward more fingernail. Maybe it helped a bit? I really think he's right that it's your attack -- how much of the pick blade you pull across the strings.

I've been reading a bit of Richie Dotson's marketing about his new picks, and how he offers flat blades and spoon shaped blades. Perhaps that has something to do with it.

Work on the shape of your right hand and try to minimize the amount of time your pick drags across the string. That's what I'm trying to do.

Even the greatest have dealt (or not) with pick squeak. Listen to some of Bill Emerson's recordings with Jimmy Martin for instance.

Jun 15, 2021 - 9:42:42 PM

gtani7

USA

1016 posts since 3/22/2017
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If you want to read detailed analysis of pick blade shape, there's Hatfield's "Exercises for 3 Finger" book and the "Masters of the 5 string " book by Trischka/Wernick. Both books are great but i don't think it's necessary to read that much about pick blades, you can look at pictures of Earl's p[icks, they were pretty curved around the fingertip

billevansbanjo.com/blog/rememb...hment/186

Jun 17, 2021 - 6:55:13 AM

2686 posts since 2/10/2013

I don't think the "older is better' philosophy is always valid. In addition the demands by very good banjoists may not suit he needs of every individual. Some of the things we admire sometime resulted from countless hours of banjo playing and networking with other outstanding musicians.

Finally, some folks have a tendency to acquire things that a hard to get. But that doesn't mean they are superior to things made today. I think the best way to improve your music is to increase your knowledge and improve your playing skills.

Some pro's techniques just developed over time, and were not something the banjoist consciously strived to obtain.  J.D. Crowe remarked that how he positioned the wrist of his picking hand just naturally happened.  He said that if he was starting out out again, he may not even be using his wrist in that position.

Edited by - Richard Hauser on 06/17/2021 06:59:00

Jun 17, 2021 - 10:20:14 AM

gtani7

USA

1016 posts since 3/22/2017
Online Now

Also i've seen advice (here and steel guitar forum) to experiment a lot with fitting fingerbands and cutting/spooning/beveling blades by buying maybe a dozen thin Dunlops and cut/bend them to see how you like different shapes.

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