Getting the right Folk Accessories can be a bit confusing if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for: Even more so if you’re buying for someone else! Some of the main accessories that should be needed for any Folk player, specifically players of the Banjo, Ukulele or Mandolin, are as follows.

 

Strings

Regardless of your instrument, you will need strings. Less of an accessory and more of a necessity. Strings are arguably the most important aspect of the instrument. Having spares or extra packs is always handy in case of breakage, or for when you feel the strings have surpassed their lifespan.

D’addario offer some very popular high-quality strings that should stay in tune and sound good. This applies whether you play the Banjo, Ukulele or Mandolin.

A more affordable pack for emergency purposes are the Stagg options. Again for Banjo, Ukulele and Mandolin. While affordable, these strings still retain a high level of quality.

folk - ukulele

Picks

With these folk instruments, many players will use a pick. It may be you prefer fingerpicking, but specialised picks are often used for maximum volume and projection.

With the Banjo, both fingerpicks and flat picks are used. However, all in all finger picks tend to be the more popular option. These come in a set of four finger picks and a thumb pick. We offer a medium and large size to allow for size variance. These picks have a bit of flex available so don’t worry if your fingers are somewhere in-between medium and large.

Players of the Ukulele generally shy away from picks but they have their uses. Usually Ukulele players prefer the use of Felt picks. These provide a much softer and rounder tone which compliments the sound of the Ukulele: Opposed to the harsher sound that would come from a plastic pick. Mahalo offer a 3-pack of these felt picks if you were interested in straying from the traditional finger-picked style.

The Mandolin is often played with a standard flat-pick, similar to those used in guitar playing. You can find manufacturers who specifically create picks designed for Mandolin playing, though standard guitar picks are still very popular.

folk banjo

Tuner

With the majority of Folk instruments being designed for ensemble use so it’s important to stay in tune!

A Chromatic Tuner will be perfect for any instrument. A clip-on (chromatic) tuner can be very helpful for any acoustic instrument. However, you do need to know the notes you need to tune to. This can be a bit tricky for beginners, but once you know the note names of the strings it’s a great option for tuning up!

If you play a Ukulele or Mandolin, the Rocket RT40 tuners offer a very simple method of tuning. It identifies which string you are playing and lets you know how far out you are. The only downside to these Tuners? They are bound to the “standard” tuning of the instrument. Although, this isn’t an issue for most beginners.

folk mandolin

Gigbag or Case

If you’re going to be taking your instrument anywhere, it’s important to have a bag or case. Even a fairly thin cover is more protective than carrying your instrument around unprotected. However, a padded bag or hard-case is always preferable.

Having such a thin neck while being bottom-heavy, Banjos are much more prone to damage than instruments with a smaller footprint and more even weight distribution. Due to this, I would recommend a good quality padded gigbag – or even a hard-case – to ensure the most protection. A padded gigbag is perfect for basic storage and transport. However if you were placing a lot of equipment into a car or van (or a Plane *gulp*) it might be safer to go to a more robust alternative. A wooden hard-case will ensure that even if bumped or knocked, the banjo inside will remain in-tact and protected. If there are any plans to be performing or travelling with your instrument I would recommend the investment in a hard-case for Banjo players!

Ukuleles can afford to have less protection because of their low weight. Even if they do get knocked a bit they tend not to damage as easily short of being really thrown about! Be this as it may, a padded gigbag will mean that if placed amongst multiple instruments or other equipment the risk of dents or damage will be greatly reduced. Even more so with a hard-case. Hard-cases are wooden cases for your instrument that will protect even against weight or force being applied. Alsoe they look a-maz-ing.

Similarly to the Ukulele, Mandolins aren’t the most delicate of instruments. Generally you can get away with a good gigbag to transport and store your instrument. But it is always nice to have that extra protection of a hard-case if you are planning on moving your instrument around often!

About the author

Rory joined Normans in October 2017 as a member of the sales team. Primarily he plays the guitar and bass, but he has picked up a few other instruments in over 12 years of playing. He most enjoys performing live and playing jazz music.

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