Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

The Fred Kelly Freedom Fingerpick is my new favorite gizmo. I just can't keep a fingernail and when I can, it's jagged from wood working. That damages my gut strings. I never could get a brass thimble pick to stay on or feel right. Here's a photo of the Kelly pick. With some sanding to make it fit perfectly, and shortening the 'nail' area, it feels invisible and my notes are clear and consistent, and louder. There's a link on my site to a guy who sells them with 2 day delivery.

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 Part of the evolution of the small but growing stroke-style community has been a liberalization of how we discuss things like plastic.  I'm a liberal in general but I definitely fall in to the right-wing of early banjo playing.  That said, I'm glad we are more inclusive these days.  I will continue to lobby for period quipment, though.

All we are say-ing, is GIVE BRASS A CHANCE.

I have several of the Kelley picks...opposite result for me as the "large" is too small for my fat ol' fingers. Joel Hooks' brass thimbles fit me perfectly and I get the sound I like.

Good to have choices. My inclination is very much like Carl's...but in practice, I'm more apt to use whatever works for me.

without traditionalist, the tradition would die. so there must always be some.to preserve the history. I do think that some players including me are just enjoying the playing style, and old tunes.not as much into tradition.

I want to be guided and learn from tradition, but have no desire to be fenced in by it.

there has bound to be room for both.  no arguement here, just my thoughts


I hear ya Carl. In the meantime I'm gonna use clear plastic. Ssshhhhh.

Terry, Carl, et al.--

I've tried steel picks, plasic picks, Joel's picks, and probably some I don't remember, but I've never found anything that comes close to my own fingernails.  Yes, with the long nails people probably think I'm some kind of weirdo, but they probably would anyway once they got to know me.  That's just what works for me.--Rob Morrison

I'd never call Steve Howe a weirdo haha  The only pick I use right now is a tooth one.  I am curious, once I get going, what I'll experience and prfer in the long run. 


Here's a thought:  al-be-it "unmanly", how bout painting your finger nails with a clear coat of polish if you have nails that won't do?  Just a thought, don't hurt me! ;) 

I tried the clear polishand  hoof hardener  a few yrs ago when I was into classical guitar and wanted to grow them long,,, but it didnt do much but look funny , to me anyway.  , Segovia said , if you dont have the perfect composition of nails, you are lost as a classical player

oh and yes , your a big sissy if you paint them lol  joking

I'll tell you what I would tell my own kids, which is to stop whining , and do what I did, which was to get some shears, some sheet brass, and figure out what will work for you.  I've even posted what I use here on the site.  The template in Converse is a good starting point, as is the one I posted.  Try different gages of brass.  You could even try mimicing your favorite plastic thimble.  I'm sure with a lot of experimentation you can find something made of brass that will work.


The long and short of it is that everyone's hands/fingers are different, and different people will be comfortable with different thimbles.

Ya know, this all could explain Michael Jackson one sequined glove...it's what HE preferred. :D  or not

I agree with Carl...,I personally like the tone of the brass,... I don't use one very much, prefer my finger nail, but when it's feeling thin, Joel Hooks works best for me. And yes I think it is about keeping it traditional and true to period....if that's why you are playing this style of music, if not but for the pure joy of playing without categorizing it,.. no rules/ fences,.. anything is appropriate. Same with strings I guess, I know nylgut is great and most people use it, but I like hashing it out on Gut strings...barring that 4th string of course. Good Stuff!

Real tradition IS...bareback...(okay shoot me)

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