DIY Banjo Finger Picks

Written by nicole fotheringham
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DIY Banjo Finger Picks
Banjos can be played with the fingers, but many players prefer the sound of a picked string. (Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The banjo, despite appearances, is one of the easiest instruments to play. Banjo players use picks to increase volume and clarity. Banjo players generally don't lend out their picks. Each pick is moulded to suit the player's fingers and may be stretched out of shape by another player. If you haven't found a pick that suits you, you can custom make your own picks using household items. Easy to make ping pong picks will allow you to determine the length and shape that best suits your playing style.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Ping pong ball
  • X-Acto knife
  • Marker
  • Small piece of paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail file

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  1. 1

    Use the X-Acto knife (and a good deal of caution) to cut the ping pong ball in half along the seam.

  2. 2

    Use the marker to trace out a pattern for your pick and cut it out on the paper. The pattern should look like the top of a gingerbread man. The two arms and should ba at a 45 degree angle with the head in the middle. The bottom should be a crescent shape. For an example of the pattern, see the Resources section. Fold the paper around your finger to ensure that it fits well.

  3. 3

    Place the bottom of the pattern on the open, outside edge of the ping pong ball. The top of the pattern should be on the rounded side of the ball. Trace the pattern out with the marker onto the surface of the ping pong ball. Remove the pattern and cut out the pick shape using the X-Acto knife. You can use the pattern to cut an additional pick from the other half of the ball.

  4. 4

    Wrap the pick around your finger and secure it with some tape. Trim the pick to the desired length. You can do this with nail clippers. Smooth rough edges with a nail file. Start with a long pick and try it out, cutting and shaping until you have a pick that feels comfortable and produces the ideal sound that you want.

Tips and warnings

  • You can experiment with the picks by trying several different lengths and shapes until you find one that suits you best. Use this as a pattern for future picks.
  • Picks can be used on all four of your fingers, excluding the pinky. You can use the same design to create custom picks for each finger.
  • Practice caution when using an X-Acto knife on a rounded surface.

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