Since the earliest days of bluegrass music, National brand picks have been used by banjo and reso-guitar artists. Endorsements from Earl Scruggs in his 1968 book, Earl Scruggs and the 5 String Banjo, made National finger and thumb picks de rigueur among bluegrass pickers, and the custom has continued for a large percentage of players.
The right to manufacture under the National brand has changed hands several times since they received patents in 1930 for the metal fingerpicks, with pick aficionados insisting that the materials used and the quality of finishing have varied tremendously over the years, so much so that some pickers are willing to pay several hundred dollars for National picks made prior to WWII. There are currently several small companies offering finger picks that claim to be made like the old Nationals, often hand made in small batches.
This week the D’Addario company has announced the acquisition of the National brand for both thumb and finger picks. As the largest manufacturer of music accessories worldwide, the company known widely for its high quality strings has plans to resurrect National picks to their former glory. The D’Addario National finger picks are available now in either stainless steel or brass, and beginning in 2022, also in nickel. Though their announcement doesn’t say so explicitly, it is hoped that the nickel picks will be made with the nickel/silver alloy so prized by collectors of vintage Nats.
The National celluloid thumbpicks will remain available in large and medium sizes in black, white, and shell colors.
See the D’Addario web site for more information about the D’Addario National picks, available in 4 packs, 6 packs, and 12 packs.