Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Mandolin Picks?

I use a CT55 Bluechip pick most of the time on my mandolin. However, I have found that lighter weight picks work best for any songs featuring tremolo. The problem is that, even though I like the lighter pick during the actual tremolo, I don’t like it for the rest of the song. I am trying to find a happy medium.
Anybody have any advice?

If you get a chance to try a rounded triangle like a BC TPR 50, I think that might be a happy medium. The lighter pick that you like for tremolo allows the pick to flex and thus get through the strings easier. The rounded tip is similar in that it will deflect off the strings easier. As opposed to ordering a BC to see if you like it, it would be easier to try with a cheaper pick. Maybe get a pair of thick triangle picks, one with sharp points and one with rounded points. Then, see if you like the feel and tone of the rounded compared to the sharp point.

The above is the equipment route of fixing the issue. There are folks that use sharp pointed picks for tremolo on mandolin, so I figure we could do it as well with the right technique. I have a CT55 and use it primarily on guitar, but also like it for mandolin. I just played with it and I think I am doing a couple things to help it get through the strings for tremolo. First, I am altering the angle so that is not as flat to the strings. Second, I am not digging in as much… the pick motion is more brushing across with the CT55, where with the TPR 50, I am pressing into it more to get the volume I want.

Let us know what you find that works for you.


I’m really digging this one. It’s thinner than the 55 and has both a rounded and pointed edge:

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Ben, just out of curiosity, when would you switch over to the rounded edge in a song? Would you use that for chopping?

Honestly, I would hardly ever switch in a song, but if I’m doing a lot of tremolo and the tone calls for it, I go with the rounded.

The 1 rounded tip that Ben suggests seems like a really good idea. I don’t have one, but to me, it is really like two picks in one. I thought when I started BCs that I would find “the” pick and get a few of those. That didn’t happen, some days (or songs) I like my TPR 40 or 50, and sometimes I like the CT55s. I should have bought one of the 1Rs at the start and gotten two picks in one.

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Mike altering the angle is something that has worked great for me. My only issue is that I get cooking along in a song and launch into the tremolo and forget to angle off the pick. I guess it’s just a mental thing to always remember to angle off the pick.
Anyway, thanks for all your great advice here!