Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Finally got some Sammy Shelor and blue chip picks

So I grabbed some Sammy Shelor picks and a blue chip thumb pick that came up for grabs on a local UK auction. Just got them today.
Let’s start with the Blue chip thumb pick. It feels lighter than my other picks so felt lacking at first as I’m used to a bit more weight. Also the thumb pick is angled more than other picks, so I tend to be stricking the string with the edge of the thumb pick as my thumb curls up slightly. Is this the norm with these picks?
The shelors are great comfort wise and slicker. Though I feel some of the warm tone is lost.
How do you guys get on with these picks and what’s your opinion on these?

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@Jono Well I have had a “Blue Chip” pick for some time I did like mine. the problem now is that I cannot get the band to where it sits securely on my thumb. As for the finger picks, I cannot say I have used either .225 Dunlop or angled Pro Piks. I have gone through a bunch of different type of picks. It might be you just have to get used to them,


The angle should be about the same with other common thumbpicks (like Golden Gate, etc.). I didn’t notice an issue there. I use the Shelors as well and really like the way they feel. I have to admit that I’m more of a feel-seeker than tone-seeker…not that I care nothing of tone, but I am drawn toward what is comfortable to play as long as it sounds good.


Which thumb pick did you get? I got the JD Crowe model and haven’t noticed a problem, but the pick part is a different shape depending on the model you get.

The Sammy Shelor picks are news to my novice ears, so thanks for mentioning them. However, the JD Crowe Blue Chip thumb pick is now my favorite. It took a few days to get used to, but there’s been no looking back for me. I started with a speed pick, and later favored the Golden Gate confetti but always felt it was too long (guess I could have trimmed it back some). Like @Mark_Rocka mentioned, the JD Crowe model is shaped different than the other Blue Chips in that it is shorter, which suits me better.

I experienced the exact same thing with my Blue Chip. So much so, that I brought this up before the forum asking if it was proper technique to curve my thumb a bit when playing.

The general consensus was, that the thumb should always be kept straight, and so I abandoned trying to curve my thumb a bit. There is one small exception though. Whenever I do a brush, I curve my thumb just a tiny bit. To me, it makes a brush cleaner and easier to play.

With that said, the only pick I use now is my blue chip. One very minor issue I noted though, is that it doesn’t have the elasticity of an all plastic pick. And over time, I THINK it will start to loosen a bit.

I say this, because though my Blue Chip is not loose fitting, it requires much less effort to slide on than it used to.

All that, the Blue Chip is a phenomenal pick. It “glides” across the strings.

It’s the JD model. Maybe I just hadn’t noticed before seems more comfortable today. Guess it’s just getting used to something new. :wink:


I think it’s hand position. I curl my thumb slightly but my hand is also turned slightly as to keep the thumb pick almost horizontal to the strings.

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I got some Shelor picks about two years into my playing but never used them much. So today, I thought I would give them a try.

I wore them for the first couple of tunes of my practice session then switched back to my normal National NP2s. The Shelors were okay. The bands are less uncomfortable I guess but at this point, my picks are not uncomfortable in general so it didn’t make much of a difference. Other than that, they seemed like my NP2s.

But then I practiced the rest of the time with the NP2s and tried the Shelors again at the end of the session. And then, they were very slippery on the strings to the point of being distracting. I am sure that after 5 or 10 minutes, I would get used to the feeling but right off, the way they slid off the strings felt…different.

Being stainless steel as opposed to nickel for my normal picks has something to do with this, I think.

But to me, it comes down to what you’re used to. I’ve been playing with the Nationals for a long time now and I’m just used to them and like them.

I never tried a Blue Chip thumb pick (though I have a one for mandolin and it’s the best sounding mandolin pick I have). I just use plastic clown barf picks.

I continue to use the shelor picks…still not totally convinced about the blue chip thumb. I think I may need the medium JD and not the small which I’m using. It was bought in an auction so didn’t have a choice. It feels a bit light in weight on my thumb so don’t know if the medium feels a bit more substantial?

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I would imagine most adults would at least wear the medium, yes.

I have quite slim fingers and thumb so the small fits snug, but then I can also wear a medium in another pick.

@Jono @BanjoBen I have a Blue Chip in the large size I can’t get mine to stay put. That is the reason I don’t use mine. I have a tough time trying to get the band to the correct size. I have an oddly shaped thumb due to all the bowling i have done over that last 53 yrs. But, I did buy some of that “Gorilla Snot” from the BanjoBen Store, I will have to give it a try with some of that stuff on there.

@Jono im from the UK so if you fancy selling it to me im on the lookout for a BlueChip JD Crowe…


I’ve been trying the blue chip (small) bent it open a bit more to fit my thumb. Just can’t get comfortable with it yet. Still going back to my trusty Fred Kelly medium thumb pick which just feels right. The Sammy shelor finger picks are awesome though, very comfortable and glide across the strings.

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I’ll probably hang onto it for now but I’ll let you know. :wink:

Sorry i’m late to the party

I eventually got a JD BC pick and i now cant see me using anything else as ive got so used to it but im on the lookout for some Sammy Shelor Fingerpicks if you come across any

have a good day ya’all

As I mentioned, I didn’t get on with my jd bluechip but wondered if the Russ Carson BCThumb would sound any different? Has anyone done a comparison in tone on the different BC thumbs?
On my gold star there was a definate slight but softness in tone from the Kelly to the BC Crowe. It may be due to the strings/banjo model and how I strike the string that effects this, but at the moment the Fred Kelly has a crisper tone more in balance with the other strings.

I don’t believe the tone is any different, just the feel of the attack since it’s a longer blade.

OK thanks Ben. Someone just suggested to me the tone may be different due to it being a bit longer with that slight hook. I so wanted it to work for me as it is a very comfortable thumb pick, but when I used one it was noticeably softer in tone against my finger picks compared to when I was using Fred Kelly. Guess it’s just the way I play. :grinning: