Forum - Banjo Ben Clark


After swearing off fingerpicking for the last year and a half while I focused on flatpicking, I’ve decided to devote some more time to it. This time, I’m trying to learn to use thumb and fingerpicks, but I’m concerned I’m going to damage my guitar with the fingerpicks. Maybe it’s just my poor technique, but my picks seem to hit the top of the guitar periodically. I tried sliding my picking hand forward so that it’s more over the sound hole (and less likely to make contact with the guitar), but it seems unnatural.

Is there an easy solution? Will my technique eventually smooth out to the point I don’t have to worry about my guitar?

No good answers from me, I never could get comfy thumb and finger picks. I try it now and again, but I have never committed to it. When I play fingerstyle, I generally play more over the sound hole as I like the tone, so from my perspective, that’s not all bad. I also anchor with my pinkie. That is something I have at times regretted, and other times, I think it’s a good thing. I do have good control as a result. Anyway, I generally don’t have problems hitting the top with fingerpicks. With a flatpick, I drag my fingers and sooner or later, I’ll have some relic’d tops, but that is a whole different story. I will say this… if you are concerned about it until you get your flying fingers reigned in, you could use a flamenco golpeador. Here’s one such thing:
Note: In theory, one is supposed to remove them when not in use.

That’s a neat product, but the MacGyver in me says I can make something similar out of something I already have. Maybe a piece of rubber shelf liner temporarily clipped to the soundhole would work.

I love the MacGyver moments in life. You could also choose your shelf liner to coordinate with a shirt… now that’s spiffy!

Seems my fingers are already settling down a bit. I don’t think hitting the guitar is going to be a problem for me much longer.

Now, my issue is string noise. I thought there was a thread about this in the banjo section, but I couldn’t locate it. At times, I can keep the noise to a minimum and other times it is really annoying, but I can’t pinpoint exactly what I’m doing different. Anybody got any technique advice for me?

Going back to my brief foray into classical, the big emphasis at the start was on tone. Instead of swinging or striking at the string, there was a three part process. Place the finger on the string, press the string, then release through the string (initially taught as a rest stroke). I think the terminology was plant, pressure, release. Of course, these three steps occur so quickly at normal playing speed that they are hard to discern. Thus, one has to slow the note making down to a very methodical speed. Also the movement was supposed to not use the smallest joint (the one towards the tip) to avoid plucking and get maximum drive. The idea was that one plays “into” the top, keeping the movements close to the soundboard. I have no idea if those thoughts will help with finger picks, but I throw them up against the wall to see if something sticks.

Good stuff. Seems like it might be a little beyond my abilty at the moment, but I’ll give it a try.

I’ve had similar problems with string noise myself. When you’re molding the picks to your fingers, make sure that they’re flat against the strings when you pick. That should get rid of most of the string noise.

Thanks. I do notice my picks are hitting the strings at an angle. If I could get my right hand in more of a classical guitar postion the picks would strike perpendicular to the strings, but when I shift my hand to palm mute for Travis picking everything gets tilted at an angle.

I’ll try reshaping the picks. Guess I’ll need to get one set of finger picks for guitar and one for dobro so I don’t have to continually reshape the picks.

before my flat picking adventures I finer picked for around 10 years. I could never get used to wearing picks and finally decided to quit attempting them at one point and simply used my fingers.

I’ve resisted using finger picks on guitar for a long time, too, but since I starting using them on dobro, it didn’t seem so daunting. And, I love the volume I can get, now.

Are you back home, oldhat?

Yep got in this weekend.

Just getting caught up with the grass cutting, honey-do’s, etc. Today will be a day of wearing a couch on my back playing guitar.
Gonna try and coax my daughter into doing some vocals for Hard Times today.

Wanted to mention that I also tried to grow my finger nails out back-in-the-day for finger picking…that never worked…kept breaking them doing daily work.

Have you ever tried Fred Kelly speed (thumb) picks? They are a bit different. I have a couple and I could send you one if you are interested in trying. It’s not something I have found stocked locally (I ordered them).

I hadn’t looked at the Fred Kelly picks before. Interesting, but the speed pick looks like it has a pretty small blade and I’m not so sure that’s what I need with my D18. I get a pretty bright sound with the metal finger picks, so I think I need to get all the thump I can out of my thumb pick.

I need to order up several different models and A/B them. The picks I’ve been using are the ones that came with the dobro when I bought it in a Louisville pawn shop back in the early 90’s. I’m using a National thumb pick and Dunlop finger picks, but up until now hadn’t been serious enough about finger picking to consider other options.

Hope this doesn’t lead me to the point where I need a $25 pick on each finger.