For many musical instruments, you will find that they have specific accessories designed to enhance the quality of sound they produce, or to bring out something completely different. Banjo picks are excellent accessories that enhance the sound you send out from the instrument. You can indeed play your banjo without picks, as many of the more popular banjo players have done with ease. However, it also depends on the style of the music you choose to play. Bluegrass, for instance, calls for banjo picks to bring out that unique sound.

As you go through learning how to play the banjo, you may be hoping to play the instrument without the use of picks. However, it is considered best to use picks comfortably first. Typically, banjo picks are either plastic or metal. They are designed to fit onto the banjo player’s fingers and thumb.

When it comes to the brands and sizes of banjo picks, there are many options available, depending on your preferences. You may also want to understand more about this instrument and how to play it correctly, with or without banjo picks, by taking banjo lessons from Joff Lowson’s Banjo Academy. You get to learn everything you need to know from the expert.

Here’s a little more information about banjo picks to help you with your choice should you decide to use them.


What are finger picks?

Fingerpicks are those small, flat accessories worn on the tips of the fingers. They are used more frequently when you play the bluegrass style on your banjo. They may either be made of plastic or metal.

Most banjo players prefer to use metal finger picks to because the sound is crisper,for many people the plastic fingerpicks just don’t sound right. However, it is a matter of preference.

Metal fingerpicks come in different thicknesses or ‘Gauges.’  The different thicknesses have a different sound, but the main consideration is how well they keep their shape.  You will need to bend the picks to fit your fingers., This is easier to do with the thin gauges, but they may come loose while you play!

What are thumb picks?

Thumb picks are similar to fingerpicks except designed slightly differently. Like fingerpicks, they have a flat blade part which is the part you actually play with, plus a band that goes around the thumb. The blade part is in a different position for a thumb pick because the Thumb touches the strings at a different angle to the fingers.

Thumb picks can also be made of metal or plastic and come in a wide variety of sizes and thicknesses. Most banjo players use plastic thumb picks. Unlike metal picks, you cannot bend these to fit your thumb, so you will need to buy them in a suitable size.  The blade part that strikes the strings comes in different widths too, and this has an effect on the sound you will make.

If you decide to use banjo picks, you should try several out first. You might need to try several different makes and sizes before finding the picks that are right for you. If you are happy with the sound you get from your banjo picks and are comfortable with them, you should use them. However, if you try many different types and can’t find any that suit you, you can still enjoy playing the banjo with bare fingers. It’s entirely up to you!