Tag Archives: picks

Red Henry

Red Henry

Folks, I was just looking through some old posts, and I realized that I'd never talked about flatpicks. This is an important and interesting subject for those guitar and mandolin pickers who are learning to play.

Some new pickers try out a thin, light flatpick, and get used to it, and use it from then on. Now, everybody will have his or her own preference for picks, but I'd recommend trying out a medium pick when you get a chance. If you've gotten used to the thin pick it will take a little getting used to, but a medium pick has some advantages. A few of them are: (1) you get a more solid sound from the instrument; (2) the pick doesn't bend as much, so you hit the strings with it more accurately; and (3) your motion and energy go less into bending the pick, and more into making the note.

. . . . .

On the other extreme, there's been sort of a fad in the last several years for using really heavy picks. Some of these are made of exotic materials, such as caribou horn, buffalo hoof, or the teeth of a Siberian timber wolf (just kidding-- a little). But these extra-heavy and rigid picks do not bend at all, and can cause clumsiness in playing and a lack of clarity. I use a fairly heavy pick, but not an extreme one -- and it's not made from fossilized Triceratops skull, either!

Try lots of picks, and Take Your Pick.


Murphy HenryShort blog today, folks. Just back from picking all afternoon with David McLaughlin (banjo), Marshall Wilborn (bass), Red Henry (mando), Chris Henry (guitar), and moi (fiddle, and a little banjo after David left). And still need to find time to watch last night’s episode of the Marty Stuart Show featuring Eddie Stubbs as the genial announcer which I videotaped (RFD channel).

Okay, so here’s my Word to the Wise: Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT let anyone borrow your fingerpicks. I’m talking about the set of fingerpicks you use all the time. Most borrowers will take the picks and, without thinking twice about it, bend them to fit their fingers. And even if they don’t bend them, their fingers could be bigger and will stretch them out. So when you get them back (IF you get them back!), they will no longer feel right on your fingers! You’ll have to go through the shaping process all over again.

If you’ve not had this happen to you yet, great! You can’t imagine how much you will notice the smallest change in your comfortable, well-fitting picks.

So, what to do? Carry a spare set of fingerpicks that will be your “loaners.” If someone asks to borrow your picks, give them these.

And, by the way, you should also be breaking in a spare set of picks for yourself. This is for when your thumb pick breaks or for when you lose your fingerpicks.

So at the very minimum you need three sets of fingerpicks in your banjo case: your regular and favorite set, a spare set, and a set that you can lend.

Thanks to Chick for suggesting this blog. Of course, the fact that he had loaned out his best set of picks and had them bent all to pieces and was having to reshape them gave him a good excuse for missed notes at his lesson!