Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Drifting Too Far From the Shore

I used a pick! I used a pick! I actually did a song using a pick!


Cool Billy! :slight_smile: Very meaningful and appropriate for this time. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you!


That was great Billy!!! Thanks!!!


Nice! I love that song! Been working on that off & on for a while. Trying to do the Grisman Garcia Rice version from the Pizza Tapes album. Someday…!!!


That’s a great version of this song to be sure! I’ve had a bootleg of the Pizza Tapes for a really long time, and finally decided this last Christmas to gift myself a legitimately procured 3 CD extended version of those sessions straight from David Grisman and then I listened to it for two days straight when I drove to Texas recently. I really love all three of those musicians, so to hear them hang out like that is just. plain, special.

But the version I originally learned was from a Country Gentlemen Reunion concert I saw in Charlottesville one memorable Saturday night thirty years ago. Another song that I took away from that night was “He’ll Set Your Fields on Fire” which I’m trying to get under my belt as a solo singer… it’s so NOT a single-voice song that I’ll probably have wide latitude to make stuff up to make it work. But if I succeed in getting through the entire song in front of a video camera, I’ll post it here for your amusement!

Anyway, thanks for listening, yall!

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Nice job Billy!

You have a unique picking technique as well as your grip (kinda like a rocker)! No offense there and there’s nothing wrong with that, just an observation.



Hi Jeff!
Thanks for the note! Yeah, I have some reckoning on the pick grip to have to deal with. That was a great observation, and I do think I need to spend some time learning to hold the pick proper. Fortunately, I haven’t been picking long enough to have it too deeply ingrained into my hand. And I certainly agree it’s a red flag;
I’m gonna start paying more attention to it. You’ve got a good eye and I appreciate it!

I have noticed that if I start holding the pick the right way (like the way Tony Rice describes in a video appropriately titled “How to hold your pick”) the pick’s attack angle on the string starts working right. It also sounds better than holding the pick like I’ve got a dead bug in my hand. I’m gonna keep working on it!

Billy Shaw

Oh I didn’t say it was wrong, I just noticed it was different.

It’s hard to really tell how Tony actually holds his pick because he changes many times throughout any given song… and, he has the best economy (travel distance) I’ve ever seen from any player! He also changes his angle frequently with just movement from his fingers without ever changing his wrist or arm angle. He’s amazing to study or even just watch.

Do what works best for you but don’t make a habit out of something that isn’t working right. If you feel you need to make a change, try a different approach and stay dedicated with it for a good while. Force yourself to do it until it starts coming to you more naturally. This may take several weeks of one or two hours a day (or even more). If after a long time it just never happens or feels right, you may want to try something else.

One last thing, check out some Dan Crary videos… He definitely has a different grip of the pick! It’s actually slightly similar to yours now that I compared (at least from what I can see).

Just always make sure you’re enjoying yourself!

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Thanks for these thoughts! I’ll check out Dan Crary videos for sure! While we’re on the subject, what thickness picks do you normally use? I’ve been using Fender “Extra Heavy” and “Heavy”, plus those free picks that say “Banjo Ben” on 'em that he sends you when you buy something.


Great Voice! Well done Billy! Like it!

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I’ll be honest… I’m just really still up-in-the-air about this whole piece of plastic in my hand thing. It’s kinda like surfing with your knees duct-taped together.Now I know why banjo players do more smiling most of the time. I’m gonna persevere because I like the sound, but it sure ain’t easy.

I like picks between 1.14mm and 1.5mm. For guitar, my favorite is my faithful Blue Chip STP-50 (with NO speed bevels) It’s right in between there somewhere. For cheaper picks, I don’t think you can beat the Dunlop Primetones (I like the 1.4mm) or the Dunlop Ultex (1.14mm). Not the pointy ones but the standard teardrop. They also make the triangle version, but I think they’re too big and bulky. My STP is a very small triangle. A quarter will sit perfectly at all three edges with no overlap from either the quarter or the pick.

I’ve never really tried the Fenders but the XH sounds about the right thickness.

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Good job!

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