A banjo pick, or fingerpick is a type of plectrum that is most commonly used when playing bluegrass style banjo music. Fingerpicks may be composed of metal or plastic. Differing from the more common flat guitar pick, which is usually held between the thumb and finger, banjo picks clip onto or wrap around the end of the fingers and thumb.
Anyone who plays Scruggs-style banjo knows that it is played with picks on the thumb, index and middle fingers.
Metal banjo picks are made of a blade-shaped striking surface joined to a ring that will hold the fingerpick around the end of the finger. To wear the banjo pick correctly, you fit the picks on your index and middle fingers. Make sure that the striking surface of the pick is on the opposing side of your hand from your fingernail.
There are a plethora of banjo picks available on the market. Many of them vary in size and thickness as well as what they are made of. Some will even have a curvier striking surface and others are flatter.
You might want to experiment with different types before finding the picks that fit and suit you best. It should be noted that they can range dramatically in price from around $4 to well over $35 for a set.
How to Choose Banjo Picks
All banjo picks, whether finger or thumb are either made out of metal or plastic. Metal picks tend to create a louder sound. There are different types of metal picks. Brass picks sound smooth and warm while nickel picks tend to be louder and clearer. Some people prefer the more expensive Cobalt picks. When you are starting out, you might prefer plastic picks, as they are cheaper and easier to fit, though they don’t last as long as metal.
It should be noted that it is fairly common to see people using metal finger picks and a plastic thumb pick.