More About Picks

Murphy HenrySo now that you know not to share your picks, let me remind you that, generally speaking, those little pointy fingerpicks are not going to be your best choice. (And thanks to Steve for the idea for this blog!)

Steve had read all this talk on Banjo Hangout about these pointy fingerpicks and how good they were, and he thought that he’d try them out. Naturally my first comment when I saw them was, “What are those?” My second comment was, “I don’t think they will give you the sound you’re looking for. They tend to produce a rather thin sound. You’re already getting a really good sound with your other picks. And you’re not having any problem with your tone or your ability to play.”

And after he played one song using those pointy picks my third comment was, “See? I told you so.” He took them off. And put his old ones back on.

Now, there may be some good reasons for using the pointy picks. Like if you want to play with a really light touch, or perhaps if you’re playing in the melodic style, or maybe if you like a tone that isn’t particularly Earlish or hard-core bluegrass. But if you’re looking for a big fat bluegrass sound, you need a fingerpick that has more area with which to strike the strings. (IMHO, of course!)

After all these years I’m still using my favorite old-style Dunlop fingerpicks, the kind with three holes and a longer blade than they are offering now. I use the heaviest gauge, 0.025. (I think that’s right....) I know old Nationals are all the rage (or at least they used to be) but those never felt good on my fingers. Ditto a lot of the newer picks, especially those made of heavier metal. They just don’t work for me.

But fingerpicks are a very personal item. Experiment around and see what you like best. Give yourself time to get used to a set and see how you like them. But then, stick with that set! Constantly changing fingerpicks in hopes that THAT will cure all your ills and make you a better banjo player is a pipe dream. And stay away from the pointy picks!

One thought on “More About Picks

  1. Jeff Hays

    I have been using Ernie Ball Pickey- Picks (they have a name, you know) since about age 5, and I just want to state that I will meet anyone , anywhere, anytime to show them exactly what “earlish” sounds like. Ms. Murphy, not only do you have a serious case of tunnel-vision about banjo music, but who died and made you Darth Vader? When are banjo-players, including the A-listers of today, going to stop trying to sound like each other, or whatever sound that is hot now.
    So, if you think me a big mouth, let’s do a pick-off. My “pointy-shpointy picks against your holy mother of dunlops.
    r u game or chicken?

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