Arthritis and other joint problems can cause enlarged or swollen knuckles, making it difficult to keep a guitar (or banjo) pick on the finger. I adapted a steel pick like the ones shown here (on the right in the picture) so that my dad could keep playing his instruments a little longer.
My ‘fix’ is a little crude, but it worked well for Dad. I bought two metal picks, and used pliers to bend the ‘pick’ portion on one (that would be the blade part, not the band) back and forth until it broke off. (I made sure to bend it so that the rougher edge would be on the outside of the band, not next to Dad’s finger.) This left me with a ring-like band.
Then I cut a very small strip of stretchy Lycra fabric — it’s sold in most fabric stores, as sports, dance, or athletic material. Dad wore the first pick as usual, above his enlarged knuckle. I set the second one — now just an open band of soft metal — on the same finger, but below the joint.
I lay the Lycra fabric across the band on the unaltered pick, and stretched it to reach the second band just below the knuckle, making sure that the strongest stretch of the fabric went up and down. Once I’d eyeballed the fit, I hand-stitched the Lycra to the two bands — this was easy because both bands were perforated.
This is kind of a crude fix — it’s definitely not pretty, but now my dad is able to put the pick on his finger, and then push or pull the second band down below his knuckle. The Lycra provides enough tension so that the pick bands work together to keep the pick on his finger.
Dad’s hands — and his playing — aren’t what they used to be, but having a pick that will stay on his finger has let him play quite a bit longer than he thought he could.
Dad posed willingly with his adapted pick, but I’m afraid that we exceeded the limits of my digital camera, and I wasn’t able to get a usable shot. Motivated readers will find this little project pretty easy to troubleshoot once they’ve got the picks in hand, though.
Image of guitar picks from Flickr