Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Index finger placement

@BanjoBen, @thepurplehulls, @Jake & all Mandolinists,

I am interested to pose a question - as a newer player about 1 year in to my mando-experience (FYI: I have an Eastman MD-315 - a Birthday present proudly purchased from Jake! using a Dunlop Primetone sculped plectrum as my choice pick).

As I play my Mandolin, I start out with my INDEX finger “curled” across the back-side of the pick (parallel with strings - as I think I observe most often with @BanjoBen’s lessons or with other pro players)…

Some minutes later, I find my index finger begins to naturally shift… to where the finger tip rotates to actually “point” toward the tip of the pick (more perpendicular to strings).

Now, my fingers are not specifically wide nor are they exceedingly long… so this position feels natural and (I think) it happens for 2 reasons: 1) I used to play electric in my youth and 2) whether true or perceived - to have slightly better control during alternate cross-string picking.

I wonder if this tendency is developing a “bad habit” that I might regret later.

To conclude: Should I resist “pointing down at the tip” with my index pick finger?

Will it create chopping or rhythm strumming issues later?

In advance, I welcome all input from experienced players and look forward to the feedback.

Mine does the same to a certain extent. I’d say the answer to your question depends on how much it is doing that. I have seen guys that point straight down and have problems. If it is just migrating a little, it is probably no big deal. If I were starting out, I’d try to follow Ben’s advice as closely as possible. Habits are ridiculously hard to break.

I don’t know that my input will be of much value, I’m new to playing mandolin and really have no trouble with the pick altho a little more difficult playing all clean notes on guitar with pick. And I probably don’t quite understand or can visualize exactly what you’re saying.

Now maybe just me but I’ve never used the pointed tip of a pick, I’ve always used the rounded shoulder as it’s so much easier for me to hold onto and I much prefer the tone as opposed to tip. I also have always used a pretty heavy pick. Right now for my acoustic and mandolin I’m pretty well totally satisfied and comfortable with a 1.5mm that gives me a lot of volume and attack when needed or rather bite. Heavier gives too much bass response and lighter too trebly and brittle sounding if that makes sense.

I’m not familiar with the brand you’re using but one thing is you have to keep trying different shapes and thickness until you find one that suit you best and holding in different positions. I’m constantly trying different brands but I keep coming back to my VPicks particularly the Traditional Lite and the Nashville both are 1.5mm. I had a Blue Chip that was too light (my order fault) but I lost it… Just keep experimenting, it’ll come around.