Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Right hand problems

I’m still struggling with my right hand technique. One advantage of watching yourself back on video is to see all the bad things you do.
One thing I cannot seem to cure is my middle finger flaying around like a cartwheel when picking, and wasting energy. :grimacing: I also think it is the cause of my hitting wrong strings from time to time.
I’ve tried altering my right hand angle or position, but cannot seem to stop this bad habit.
Any tips/help appreciated.

For starters, practice picking over and again with your middle finger only, concentrating on minimizing the motion. Let your finger know what it feels like to stay close to the string.

Next, I’ll need a good video to create a custom drill to address the underlying problems. 99% chance this is mental, first of all, so that means we can address it by tricking your brain.

Don’t know if this is any help. No sound but shows my middle finger.

It’s worse on some tunes than others. Seems to be a habit I’ve slipped into and been unaware of for a while. :roll_eyes:

Thanks Ben. I will try with just my middle finger and see what happens. :+1:

Amazing video to me, as I had the same trouble with my index finger. I’ve got it under control at that moment, but took MUCH reprogramming. Specifically, I chose exercises & songs that forced my misbehaving finger to work such as single-string exercises. The new song “Shove the Pigsfoot” really works the index and now I find that my exercises have paid big dividends, but I still have to watch it.

Warning: B.Ben may give you an exercise that will drive your middle finger & brain crazy, but will be pulling that bad habit out by the roots if you keep at it. Good Luck & Happy Picking!!!


Well anything that can cure it will be good. I hope I can cure it anyway. :wink:

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I am not a banjo player, but something from introductory lessons on classical guitar seems to apply in line with what Ben suggested (training the muscle memory). We think of striking the string to make a noise. What really makes it happen is the release of the string off the pick. The movement is broken down into three steps: 1) Plant (or place) 2) Pressure and 3) Release.
So instead of slapping at the string, the movement is broken down into placing the finger (pick) on the string, displacing or pressing the string (more displacement = more volume) and then releasing through the string. This kind of movement takes the “wind up” and velocity out of the equation.
Again, I am not a banjo player, and I realize the instruments are quite different. However, given the symptoms you describe, I thought it might be beneficial to spend some time very slowly and methodically plucking a string. Place, press, release. It’s worthwhile noting that the volume and tone variations come quite easily from altering the pressure and release.


Thanks Mike. Will try that.