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Banjo Picker’s Quick Tip: Glue Those Picks On!

Glue those suckers on!

If you are like me, it can sometimes be a challenge to keep your picks on. For me, I use the Sammy Shelor stainless steel picks and I love them, but boy are they slippery! There is nothing more embarrassing than being onstage and having one of your picks go flying off to the ground. I found a solutions that works for me.

Glue those suckers on!

After much consternation and study, two things converged in my mind one day: my bowling experience and the fiddler in my band. After joking with myself many times that I wanted to “glue those suckers on”, I remembered my days of accidentally glueing my bowling ball to my fingers. Not literally, but what I’m referring to is having accidentally grabbed the rosin bag instead of the baby powder. If you aren’t familiar with bowling and the paraphernalia that goes with it, some bowlers carry a little cloth bag of rosin powder for when their bowling ball is slipping from their hands before they throw it. If they apply the rosin to their fingers, the bowling ball sticks to the fingers and they have better control. In my case, my fingers had swelled up after an extended period of bowling and I needed the opposite of rosin. Applying baby powder can help the ball to release better. Imagine my surprise when accidentally using the rosin! I almost threw myself down the lane when the ball wouldn’t release.

You probably know that fiddlers use rosin as well, for the same reason that bowlers do: without the rosin, the horsehair of the bow just slides effortlessly and almost frictionlessly across the strings. There is no “bite” or no “grip” of the horsehair on the strings. Applying rosin to the bow causes the horsehair to have much more friction and produce a sound; it causes the bow to “grip” the strings.

Rosin up them fingers!!

I asked my fiddler for an extra cake of rosin one day so that I could try an experiment. (Bowler’s rosin comes in powder form; fiddlers rosin is a solid cake.) I simply rubbed my fingers on the rosin cake and then put my picks on. GOLLEE BOB HOWDY!! Holy Mackerel did that work! My picks stayed put! Problem solved. Now when I play a gig, I “rosin up my fingers” and pick my little heart out. At the end of the gig, when removing my picks, they actually stick to my fingers pretty good and I can tell they are pretty well glued on. Not literally; not enough to tear the skin or cause problems. They just kind of “stick” a little, as if some gentle paste has been used to glue them on. If you can identify with this problem of picks falling off your fingers, pick up some bowler’s rosin or a cake of fiddle rosin and give it a try. I’d love to hear your experiences.

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