Getting Better Control of Your Picking

Getting Better Control of Your Picking

Ask Banjo Instructors

Banjo Questions / Answers from Ross Nickerson


Getting Better Control of Your Picking

Student question

Hello from Australia, Ross!

Love your Banjo Encyclopedia and have found it a great help. I have been playing (or trying) for a few years now, and for the amount of time invested, feel I should be a pretty good player by now! Not so unfortunately as my biggest problem seems to be my right hand and fingers going everywhere once I start trying to pick up some speed. My hand cramped up terribly when I had two fingers on the head, so it was suggested that I try with just my pinky. I did this and it made me wonder why I didn't do it a few years ago! I use your metronome exercises at the start of your book which are great, but still have the problem of fingers flailing about with the onset of speed.

My answer

From the sounds of it Pete, I would actually recommend slowing it all down in the right hand and concentrating on keeping your fingers in tight close to the strings. Sounds like you may just be a little over anxious. Try and keep your fingers close to the strings after you pick with each of them.

The best way to retrain yourself in this case is usually to slow it down so that you can reset your muscle memory, if you continue to be overzealous, it may be harder to get control of your picking in the long run, hope that helps some.

How to Build Speed on the Banjo Book and CD by Ross Nickerson

 Maybe we'll meet someday in Australia! I could really give you better advice in person


Thanks again,


Ross Nickerson

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1 Comment

  • James Heckler

    James Heckler 05/24/2016

    Been practicing for years, and as I started bending my pick fingers more and more, I could increase speed till now I have flying finger picks when I do rolls and fast picking. Don't know what to do to stop flying off. I found I can't keep even my pinky down when I play, as I have a bent middle finger that bends down and slightly to left. Any suggestions.

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