Back Soon

I am powering down my computer for a few days so that I can catch up on several offline projects.

The Daily Frail will return on 2/4/2019.

If you are looking for help with a specific guitar or banjo issue, be sure to look through the archives of our YouTube channel. with over 800 video workshops you are sure to find something to keep you busy!

See you next week!

God bless,

Little Banjo Dude!

A package arrived in the mail today.

I love unexpected packages in the mail, so this was already a good thing.

I opened the box and found a little wood carving of a banjo player!

Kerry carved the figure and wrote me a really nice note.

I love this – but so did mom. As soon as I opened the package she made a place of honor for the little banjo dude on her mantle – right next to her Wedgewood pitcher!

Thank you, Kerry. I will treasure this!

God bless,


I broke my frailing nail to the quick packing up to go home after Monday Music Night.

Part of being an old-time banjo player is being neurotic about your frailing nail.

I do not use my fingernails like flatpicks. I actually strike close to the middle of my fingernail. Even painfully short nails can produce good tone with practice. Long nails just make things a tad easier.

I do not recommend salon nails. I tried it and it was more uncomfortable than watching Basic Instinct with my parents. The plastic is so thick that it kills the tone of the strike.

The best solution I have found is a custom sterling silver frailing thimble by Ellington Silver Picks. The pick was hand made to fit the measurements of my finger and engraved with my initials.

The pick features a wide striking area with a downward curve to avoid getting snagged on the banjo strings. The interior of the band has a sandpaper texture to help keep the pick in place.

How does it sound? It’s not the same tone that I get with my unadorned fingernail. There is more volume and that seems to draw out the strong points of my banjo. It sure feels nice when the pick strikes the string.

The only downside to plying with a pick is that there is a chance you can catch the pick on the strings and send it flying through the air. It doesn’t happen often, but when it dies everybody knows it!

Do the picks need to be silver? Yes. I think they do. The picks have a lovely tone on steel string s without a lot of scratching, The material also forces me to be aware of where my picks are, so I am less likely to loose them or loan them out.

After using the pick yesterday to record The Daily Frail for my Patreon sponsors I was struck again by how good the frailing pick sounds. I think I will keep my nails short and my silver picks handy.

Ellington picks are no longer available, but I am sure there is a craftsman out there willing to make his or her own version of this amazing tool.

In addition to the frailing pick I was also given a silver fingerpick and bladeless thumb pick. The are awesome on my Dobro resophonic guitars!

Snow Geese

Friends of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge sent out an email announcing that the snow geese are back for the winter.

On Valentine’s Day 2010 I took Amy out on a date in Easton, MD. At 40, I had never been on a date for Valentine’s. My hearing had put up such great walls around me that the whole experience was new for me. When she kissed me it was the first kiss of my life.

The next day I took her to Blackwater. I had always wanted to visit the place, but I never imagined what we would find.

I had taken Amy to Chincoteague a few weeks earlier and a baby seal swam up to her feet. I was sure Blackwater would not be able to deliver that kind of emotional punch.

Man, was I wrong.

In the MP3 file you can hear Amy calling for me. After I set my little Zoom microphone on the hood of my Mercury I ran to her side and we stood in awe as thousands of snow geese circled overhead.

With driving being difficult for me now, I can’t get to Blackwater or Chincoteague. Dear Old Dad has offered to give me a ride, but he isn’t a photographer so it would be a boring trip for him. My Nikon is just gathering dust now.

If you have the chance to get out to a wild place to be our among God’s glory, don’t miss it. Just pick a place, go out and be still. Don’t look for anything specific and you will be amazed at what comes to you.