Picks

picks You will need a thumbpick and 2 finger picks. If you are thinking about playing with just your bare fingers—think again. Although it might seem easier without picks, you will never be able to produce any volume and quite frankly, I actually find it harder to play without picks. Start with them and stay with them—they will become your best friends and if anybody messes with them you’ll become quite upset. Picks come in different guages from .18 to .25. I like the .25 guage because I play with light guage strings and the thinner picks make my banjo sound too bright. Thumb picks come in medium and large and should fit snug enough not to fall off while you're picking. National and Dunlop are brands to choose from.

finger pickthumbpick

Strings

stringsStrings come in either medium guage or light guage. I have always preferred light guage—just easier to the touch. But if you plan on really attacking the strings, maybe you would like the mediums. Light guage strings are normally .009 .010 .013 .020 .009 and medium guage are normally .010 .012 .014 .022 .010. Strings also come in special packages such as Earl Scruggs Light Guage where the fifth string and first string are .0095 guage instead of the normal .009. Bill Keith Brand are .011 .011 .015 .022 .011. Banjo players change their strings at a variety of times from 3-4 hours playing time to "whenever they break" or as "little as possible".

 

Bridge

bridge

There are many types of bridges available. A 5/8 inch Grover is what I use and what I would recommend. I have replaced many on my students banjos because the Grover will give them wider string spacing. Every little
advantage counts! The bridge actually changes the banjo tone quite a bit. They're made of hard or dense wood and are responsible for transmitting the sound vibrations of the strings to the head. The size of the base also affects the sound. The narrower the bridge feet the brighter the sound. You can pay five dollars to over thirty dollars for a bridge. Understand we're talking only about sound not technique. A new bridge won't make you a better player.