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Picks or not to picks, that is the question...

As I'm exploring the banjitar, I am having to decide whether or not to use fingerpicks or not. For many years, as a guitarist, particularly as a 12-string guitarist doing Leo Kottke-style material, I used plastic/nylon picks. I used Dunlops and Nationals for a couple of decades, then I discovered the Alaska Pik brand. These are different kinds of picks that go over the fingernail, leaving the pad of the fingers exposed to feel the strings. I have favored these picks for the past 20 years or so.

Now with the banjitar, using light, electric guitar strings for a more banjoesque tone, I decided to try out the metal picks used by many 5-string banjoists. I liked the sound, but not the feel of the picks on my fingers. Oddly, even though I have used fingerpicks for over forty years, my fingers got tangled up with these. Even more odd, I find I like the sound of bare fingers best of all so far. For just sitting around the house, using no picks seems to work best, but I have to practice with the picks because any live performance is going to work better with them. The thing is, I play live so rarely anymore, it might not make a difference.

What's your preference as a banjitarist? Picks? No picks? If you use picks, what material do you like? Plastic, nylon, acrylic, brass, nickel, stainless steel? Let me know in the comments. 


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