Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Picks - a beginners perspective

Just picked up an Eastman guitar from the general store a few weeks ago. Like my banjo, I’m practicing everyday, but unlike the banjo, it’s a more sedate practice. Just trying to do the chord exercises to a moderate pace of 60 bpm as precisely as possible. Not even worried about songs yet. I’m finding that I like playing the guitar more for the purity of the sound, and I like playing the banjo just because it’s insanely fun.

I already had my banjo picks figured out. I like the Sammy Shelor stainless finger picks and the JD Crowe version of the Blue Chip thumbpick. Done, simple, works.

I’m learning rather quickly, how amazingly different guitar picks sound and feel. Today, three different John Pearse picks arrived (from the General Store, of course… I feel like I’m going to send Ben’s kids to college before mine… lol) and I just wanted to share my first impressions.

Keep in mind, these are from a newbie, and in no way should influence your decision to buy or not buy.

I had been playing with the Dunlop Primetone Sculted Plectra 1.4. I like it. It has a nice feel. Easy to hold, and sounds good.

John Pearse Rosewood pick - this is the quietest, most mellow of the four picks. It has a very comfortable, warm sound to it. The only thing I noticed it’s not the quietest at is string slap. The string slap was noticeable, but not as much as the bone pick or the Dunlop.

John Pearse Bone - this thing sounds like its a power pick. It really comes across as the pick you want when it’s time to get loud and rowdy. Powerful sound, little on the brigher side, and very noticeable string slap.

John Pearse tortoise shell - okay, according to the GS, not real tortoise shell, but it’s my favorite out the four. It has a nice full sound, not bright, not too mellow, just full and rich, with almost no perceptible string slap.

Honestly, after watching Jake’s video, I was intriqued that there could be so much difference between picks, but also very skeptical.

After this little test, I’m sold. Picks DO make a noticeable difference in the sound. Even to a newb. My ears are more trained to the tinny twangy banjo than a guitar, and I could tell the difference.

Kind of excited. I learned something new today that I didn’t expect. So, there’s that.


I was also shocked when I first learned how different picks affect tone. For years I thought people were suckers for paying $40 for a pick. Then my wife insisted I needed to give her a Christmas gift list, so I put a BlueChip on it. Wow! Not only was the tone from my guitar better than it had ever been, my playing improved. The BC seems to glide off the strings effortlessly.

I enjoyed reading your experience. Thanks for sharing.


A Blue Chip is up next. I figured I’d start with the $2 - $7 picks before going nuts. After this, I’ll try a $40 pick. Worst case, it gives a different feel and different sound, but now I’m not worried about it being a “bad” sound or feel.


Thanks for your support of the General Store! Yep, I agree with you. I have a couple picks I just keep coming back to. One I believe is a Primetone but the print is worn off so I’m not sure.