Forum - Banjo Ben Clark


Is it a sacrilege to play the banjo without fingerpicks?
I play the guitar and my bass without picks, all my life I have played this way.

Howdy horseapple,
I tried playing banjo for a bit and didn’t feel comfy with picks, so I kind of ran into the same question. The problem is that you won’t be able to get the traditional BG sound or volume without picks. There are styles of playing banjo that don’t use picks, but it won’t have the Scruggs sound. As a result, I’d say it’s not sacrilege to go without, but it won’t sound like typical “BlueGrass” banjo and it will limit your volume when playing with others.

I think part of problem before was that I didn’t tweak the finger picks to correctly fit my fingers. If I try to get into banjo again, I plan to get some picks, fit them and just do rolls until my hand gets used to it.

Just my two cents,

I resisted fingerpicks for Dobro for the longest time. They seemed so foreign to me, I figured I would need to devote countless hours to getting used to them, but it really didn’t take that long once I committed to it.

hey horseapple, there is a style of banjo playing called clawhammer that does’nt use picks .think grandpa jones and stringbean on the old hee haw show.but mike is right,without the picks you won’t get the volume or the scruggs type of sound.i tried every type of pick i could get my hands on until i just bit the bullit and got me some sammy shellors and i’ve got to tell you they really are the most comfortable picks i’ve put on.not to mention they get the best tone out of my banjo.

There are two men that have come up with a new finger pick it covers the entire finger down to the knuckle joint and you can do down strokes with it with oput fear of the picks coming off . look for them they are called "Ultimate finger picks the name of the two is a Mr. Cobb and Gustavason not sure I have either spelled correctly but that should get you to the site or you tube presentation , just type in ultimate finger pick andf Cobb that should do it

Those are some weird looking fingerpicks, welder. I’d love to hear how they work if anyone gets a chance to try them.

I do intend to buy a couple of sets as long as they are not over $20 each mayby two to a set, index and middle finger. If they come out like a lot of these other picks and wanting 100 bucks and up I will pass and make my own. Cost means a lot when there is no raises in sight . LOL I still have to keep warm and eat . Now let me see do I eat today or do I get a new set of strings mmmmm? decisions, decisions, decisions. The strings are worn a tad .

It’s your instrument…play it however you want.

That being said, don’t expect to jump into a bluegrass jam playing Scruggs style and be able to hear yourself. You will also attain different tones using fingers or nails than you will with picks.

If your a beginner I’d suggest trying different things until you decide what is right for you, and compels the instrument to sound like you want it to.