View Full Version : Bad old picks...

11-19-2014, 04:31 PM
I don't really think they are bad, but I have a 9 year old and a 6 year old who are having strumming troubles and I think trying without the pick for a while would loosen things up and make a natural strum more possible. Am I on the right track with this? I want them to get a feel for the strings and have a relaxed strumming pattern.

11-19-2014, 04:35 PM
I have never used a pick on the ukulele. Have nothing against them; I flatpick guitar, mandolin and use metal fingerpicks for five-string banjo. But I have always preferred the tone and the feel of plain ol' fingers on the uke.

11-19-2014, 04:45 PM
I don't really think they are bad, but I have a 9 year old and a 6 year old who are having strumming troubles and I think trying without the pick for a while would loosen things up and make a natural strum more possible. Am I on the right track with this? I want them to get a feel for the strings and have a relaxed strumming pattern.

I started out learning the uke thinking a pick would make things easier - I even bought some felt picks. It didn't take long to discover that the pick wasn't helping me any. I'd guess that kids would learn pretty quick that their fingers work as well or better than the added dexterity needed to hold on to a pick.


11-19-2014, 05:15 PM
Jenny I tried picks too. All they did was impede me. Nothing like good old fingers!

11-19-2014, 05:29 PM
it all depends upon the tune. For certain genres (folk, especially), the old fingers work the best. For Southern Rock and other R&R, I find a thin pick works the best.

11-19-2014, 07:34 PM
Plectrums can be useful when teaching strumming & rhythm patterns. They do need to be fairly light gauge with little resistance, 0.5 mm or maybe a tad less and with grip for the thumb & index finger.


11-20-2014, 01:36 AM
How long have they been playing? I see little kids strumming all the time without picks. May be just as well to move them along slowly, as they strum properly, with short sessions during the day, until their little fingers "toughen up." They will.

11-20-2014, 02:00 AM
The thing is what sort of music and how are they wanting to play it ....if strumming tunes then finger first I would recommend .......if the pleccie is being held correctly ..on the side of the middle knuckle of the first finger...... and gripped firmly (not in a death grip !!)and the three other digits curled in to the palm ...with a straight thumb ..ask the player to do that and show you...slide the plectrum out from the grip and asked the player to just straighten/ extend the first finger a bit,cock the tumb back a little hold it all gently but relaxed and you have a near perfect strumming ready right hand.........and if they start clattering their fore-finger or wear out the cuticle at the back of the nail and make it sore they can revert to the plectrum and continue....

I also find it helps to make large strumming action ,this gives you some "hang time " for the right hand while chord changes are made........watch a balalika player like Alex Sinavsky:bowdown:.....I think that for similarity in strumming picking technique the Balalaika..."belly scratcher" and the "dancing flea" must have been seperated at birth:rofl:.

I used to loathe the idea of playing the uke with picks ...but I now believe (and do it )that it can sound very effective , but I would say (though not from a lofty peak and in tablets of stone)learn to finger strum and then melody pick with the fingers first......and in the end ..as long as they play the damn thing ..that's what counts.:D

11-20-2014, 02:53 AM
Correctly using picks is a skill in itself. The variety of sizes, stiffness, shapes, styles, etc. all result in unique sounds. Also, how one uses a selected pick (especially incorrectly) can impact string life. Guitarists (and many mandolinists) often learn the hard way why proper pick selection and use can be important, especially how much damage can occur to soundboards by improper pick use.

Using a pick with a ukulele may be considered as heresy by traditionalists, but for folk who play mainly rock, pop and certain C&W styles a pick makes a whale of a difference. Again, it's all about the music, and certain genres require more "oomph" and individual string clarity than others.

11-20-2014, 02:58 AM
I have rarely used a pick, even when I played guitar. I like to actually feel the strings personally. I have found that teaching kids it seems easier for them without a pick. Some younger kids don't quite have the motor skills developed yet to hold a pick, and feel out the strings with it. it gives them just one more thing to think about and just seems more natural to them to not worry about how to hold a pick. When they get older and better, they can make that choice for themselves later.

11-20-2014, 03:04 AM
I started out with a felt pick, think it was a Mahalo, after about a year, I just started strumming with my finger. I think it made me the amazing strummer I am today! ;-D

11-20-2014, 03:18 AM
Use a pick most of the time on the guitar, I do fingerpick so obviously no pick used on those songs. On the uke, never used a pick.

11-20-2014, 06:52 AM
Thanks so much guys, I really appreciate it. I think I'm going to ask them to go pick free for a while and try to get them strumming in a relaxed style.

I use the thinnest of the wedgie picks sometimes - when I need to get more sound to keep our group together, but usually go without a pick.

They are using heaven only knows what kind of rigid plastic picks. They put them in their mouths, so I don't touch them. And, no, they don't hold them correctly, so it gets their wrists and hands all twisted. This not only makes it a hit and miss strumming pattern, but they are hitting the wood a lot.

Okay, so I'm good with it now, no picks until they start strumming normally and then they can learn how to use one and hold one and incorporate it at home if they wish. Of course, I can't control what they do at home.

11-21-2014, 09:32 AM
Del Puckett makes good use of a plectrum here;


11-21-2014, 09:44 AM
Kind of funny, I just responded with my reference to treasure of the Sierra movie with the statement below on another thread.

"pick? What pick,
I ain't got no pick,
I ain't gotta play with no stinking pick" :smileybounce:

11-21-2014, 04:12 PM
In response to the OP, picking is an aqcuired skill. Fingers only is probably not a bad way to get children started.

As for the Great Ukulele Pick Debate... It is just another tool in the toolbox. Why wouldn't you want to know how to use one?