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whistleman123
08-07-2015, 08:38 AM
Just started with uke. I would like to play jazz standards and swing, both comping changes and playing chord solos. Should I use a pick or not. If yes, should it be a hard plastic one or soft felt. i'm playing on an electric uke with Aquila Reds low G.

hoosierhiver
08-07-2015, 08:45 AM
Playing with a felt pick used to be quite common decades ago, but these days I think very few people use a pick, no clue as to why it is so out of fashion.

philrab66
08-07-2015, 08:50 AM
Playing with a felt pick used to be quite common decades ago, but these days I think very few people use a pick, no clue as to why it is so out of fashion.

Personally it makes me cringe hearing played with a pick.

RichM
08-07-2015, 08:52 AM
Play what sounds good to you.

mikelz777
08-07-2015, 09:03 AM
I'm a no pick guy. Just last night I was playing my uke and wondering why it was sounding so loud and kinda harsh. I needed to trim the nail on my strumming finger. My strumming was all nail and no fleshy part from the tip of my finger. The sound I'm accustomed to is a combination of both. For me, playing with a pick is too hard on the ear and is not a pleasing sound.

Bill Mc
08-07-2015, 09:15 AM
You don't have to be devoted to any style of playing. Try both and learn the advantages and disadvantages of either way. It's entirely your call.

PhilUSAFRet
08-07-2015, 10:18 AM
If a pick gets you the results you are seeking, go for it. I see many fine players use one occasionally, even if they usually don't. Depends on the uke, the sound they want, strings they are using etc. Take the Risa LP's, and similar beasts with metal strings. Fingertips frequently won't give you the sound you bought the instrument to get. Lots of mellow jazz that fingertips would be preferred. No one way to do anything.

CeeJay
08-07-2015, 01:32 PM
Play it how you want to ..with without ...combos of both....hard picks give a brighter sound ....felt picks can sound a bit soggy ........finger pick , strum ....some use finger and thumb picks .......

I use all of the tricks above ...except the felt or leather pick ....I haven't got one....

Rbh32
08-07-2015, 01:48 PM
I'm one of the few that uses a pick I guess. Ultex .60 triangles for me. Partly because I have no useable finger nails whatsoever and partially because that's what I use for acoustic guitar. It sounds good to me. I did notice a few members of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain uses picks, so that makes me feel better... ��

k0k0peli
08-07-2015, 02:04 PM
As mentioned, it depends on your preferences. Make whatever sounds you want! (Outside with the rude ones, please. ;))

I've been a guitar (and sometimes banjo) fingerpicker for a half-century, often with metal fingerpicks. I never thought much of flatpicks. But I've been playing a lot of mandolin lately and a flatpick is just about required there -- although I abuse mine with fingerpicks too! Flatpicks are in my fingers often now, even when playing a composite-string 'uke. I don't use Grandpa's felt pick much unless I need to be *quiet*. (Grandma made him use it on his banjo-mandolin indoors.)

Ah, and which picks? A fifty-buck Blue Chip is probably overkill; so is an endangered tortoise-shell pick. If you don't need a lot of volume and want to protect the strings, a wiggly Jim Dunlop .38mm nylon pick is gentle and a felt pick is even more so. For a bit more bite I use a Dunlop 207 Jazztone with the edge sanded down a little. I fear anything stiffer and sharper would eat composite strings. No, for noise, I don my National metal fingerpicks and whack at the 10-steel-string Martin tiple, the guy that tenor 'ukes evolved from.

vanflynn
08-07-2015, 04:27 PM
IMHO Non steel strings are better with fingers rather than picks (uke and guitar alike). The uke string spacing also warrants finger picking and rolls.

Btw if you want a pick, a piece of leather (part of an old belt) will work.

Camsuke
08-07-2015, 04:50 PM
Just started with uke. I would like to play jazz standards and swing, both comping changes and playing chord solos. Should I use a pick or not. If yes, should it be a hard plastic one or soft felt. i'm playing on an electric uke with Aquila Reds low G.

Maybe a combination of plectrum & fingerpicking?

CeeJay
08-07-2015, 04:53 PM
IMHO Non steel strings are better with fingers rather than picks (uke and guitar alike). The uke string spacing also warrants finger picking and rolls.

Btw if you want a pick, a piece of leather (part of an old belt) will work.

I disagree to a degree..and agree to a degree ...which is a bit like sitting on the fence .....I think that you should play whatever you want how you want and if you don't want then don't......experiment .....I like to occasionally use plectrums on an amped up Concert or Tenor uke if playing rock and roll licks or electric blues....

For a little soprano then digits all the way..

Once upon a forum (ah me ) I didn't get the "fad" for putting Ukuleles on straps ...or "leashes "or whatever ...but I moved into a tenor for a have a go and can see that if you want to play that stood up...a strap could be advantageous and have actually fitted me Banjo uke with one (those metal bits dig in at my age now ) and me gitalaylay has a button fitted.....and a strap used ...so does my Les P epi......How you use a pick is what makes the difference...if you are constantly flailing away with a felt pick up and down etc then NO....you are missing out on the nuances and delicacies available with digital manipulation .


Balalaika for example has both,one steel and two nylon strings and it is considered traditional to play it with the flesh of the fore finger and thumb ....so it beggars the convention of steel and finger ...so you can equally have nylon and pick in my book......Horses ...courses and i would not have it any other way...

itsme
08-07-2015, 05:42 PM
IMHO Non steel strings are better with fingers rather than picks (uke and guitar alike).
I agree that I think nylon strings sound better with fingers than picks.

Use a pick if you like, but most of the people I know who play don't use a pick.

kohanmike
08-07-2015, 09:15 PM
When I played guitar (almost 50 years), I only used a pick, but when I started on ukulele 2 years ago, I never touched another pick (as well as any of my guitars). But I also say play whatever sounds good to you.

CeeJay
08-08-2015, 04:11 AM
I agree that I think nylon strings sound better with fingers than picks.

Use a pick if you like, but most of the people I know who play don't use a pick.

Depends on what type or genre of music you are playing.....and that's the problem here .....some people only play ONE style or genre...and though they may do it very well tend to forget that others can and do play different styles .

CeeJay
08-08-2015, 04:28 AM
Well it's up to the individual what style or what genre they want to play ..so many punters on here seem to only play one style anyway ...some are multi stylists....so it's a very personal issue...just take your pick. Or , not.

k0k0peli
08-08-2015, 04:49 AM
Depends on what type or genre of music you are playing.....and that's the problem here .....some people only play ONE style or genre...and though they may do it very well tend to forget that others can and do play different styles . Yup. Fingerpads, fingernails, fingerpicks, flatpicks (of various thicknesses and materials) and even bird quills all give varied effects and have their place with different styles. Hmmm, I wonder if anyone makes a bowed 'uke? Anyway, we attack the strings with whatever we wish (or have available) to make the sounds we want. Certain attacks may be standard for certain styles -- and some of us twist paradigms and subvert styles.

The very diversity of 'ukes invites such varied attacks and twisted styles. What we call 'ukes may be hollow or solid wood or plastic (thick or thin), or more-or-less metal, or cigar box, papier-mache, coconut shell, or probably other materials. They may be electrified. They may range from pocket-size to almost a guitar. They may be strung with metal or composite or gut or whatever, with one to twelve or more strings, or even no strings if it's totally electronic. They may be shaped like almost anything. They may have resonator disks or banjo heads or thin skins like a Tahitian 'uke. The may be harp-ukes or multi-neck or part theremin.

Given such, it's hard to dictate one genre, one style, one mode of producing sounds. Jump in and have fun.

kypfer
08-08-2015, 12:28 PM
As a long-time finger-style guitar picker I recently learned to use a plectrum when I took up mandolin. Inevitably one thing led to another ... yes, there's "pick acquisition syndrome" as well ... and I've now got a couple of dozen different plectrums, most of which are actually used, but all on different instruments.

For a nylon-strung ukulele (I'll include Aquila red's here, I use them so I can), I use a thin nylon pick, 0.46mm on a soprano up to 0.73mm on my baritone, for melody work, a Jumping Cow artificial felt pick for strumming on all of them (note to self, must order a spare).

I also finger/thumb pick and strum as the mood takes me, but that's by-the-bye for this conversation ;)

I've tried harder picks, I don't like the tone, but that's on an acoustic instrument, YMMV on an electric. However, I would have reservations about using a harder pick on nylon strings, especially for strumming, as it may cause excessive (and uneven) wear on the strings, possibly giving tuning problems before they prematurely snap. That aspect of things may not concern you, that's your privilege and I don't have a problem with it, but I thought I'd mention it :)

Whatever you do, enjoy it ... it's not called "playing" the ukulele for nothing !!

Wicked
08-09-2015, 04:13 AM
It's always comical to me when people make blanket statements regarding the "proper" way to play the ukulele. It's a folk instrument. Play it however you want.

Personally, I almost always play with a pick. Not because I cannot play without - because I most certainly can. The fact is, there are certain techniques and timbres that are more easily achieved with a pick.

k0k0peli
08-09-2015, 09:03 AM
It's always comical to me when people make blanket statements regarding the "proper" way to play the ukulele. It's a folk instrument. Play it however you want. Even non-folk instruments can be variously approached. Take a piano. Please. Without doing anything weirdly substantial like pulling felt pads from the hammers for a honky-tonk effect, or tuning in just intonation, or even a simple John Cage 'preparation' (stick bits of debris in amongst the strings for a gamelan effect), pianos can be widely attacked. Try Eric Satie softness, or Jerry Lee Lewis ferocity, or Henry Cowell "tone clusters", or a Stephen Scott bowed-piano ensemble (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Scott_%28composer%29) -- each is 'right' in its own realm.

But I would avoid using metal picks on nylon strings.

KikonuMedia
08-09-2015, 09:59 AM
Personally I've tried and don't like the use of picks, the sound it creates doesn't sound as soft as I would like it to. Also when I do pickings its harder for me to use a pick rather than using my thumb and index finger. Like everyone else has said though, to each his own!

Uncle "Ule"
08-09-2015, 10:45 AM
Could depend on the situation. If among a group, pick might be the way to go if playing melody.

Shady Wilbury
08-09-2015, 11:38 AM
It's personal choice, really, but there are certain techniques which are made more difficult by the use of a pick. :)

Wicked
08-09-2015, 03:54 PM
As with all techniques, the use of a pick requires practice, but there are many sounds that you can get with a flatpick that you cannot get with fingers. It's all about having the tools in your musical toolbox.

terrgy
08-12-2015, 04:31 AM
I love the sound that felt picks give. Regular guitar picks much to harsh.

k0k0peli
08-12-2015, 05:26 AM
I love the sound that felt picks give. Regular guitar picks much to harsh. Ah, softer sounds. Leather picks are available for non-vegans; one could experiment by cutting up old belts. Flatpicks can also be cut from bike tires, sheets of cardboard or styrofoam (not very durable), and soft woods. And don't forget quills / feathers.

On a different tack: long ago, I used thimbles as fingerpicks. Very different effects with plastic, metal, ceramic, and glass.

upskydowncloud
08-12-2015, 06:06 AM
I'd go with a no for this one. I've never really seen the need.

VegasGeorge
08-12-2015, 04:34 PM
I am so totally scatter brained about this issue. Just when I think I've decided on something, I change my mind again. It wasn't but a few days ago that I had settled "once and for all" on using ProPiks. Then I started getting worried about the effect of the steel on the strings, started hearing "twangy" harshness in the sound, and got worried again about scratching the top of the instrument. So now, I'm sure that the Fred Kelly Freedom Picks are the answer. Sheesh! I wish I could just grow callouses on my fingertips and forget about the whole thing.

Wicked
08-13-2015, 01:51 PM
I use a bone pick. I don't usually say whose bone it was, though.

k0k0peli
08-13-2015, 05:20 PM
I use a bone pick. I don't usually say whose bone it was, though. I just flashed on the disturbing image of mandolin-picking mafiosi who knock-off whomever and instead of putting them in cement overshoes or whatever they're dropped into an acid vat and the cleaned bones are used to make picks. Wouldn't it be ironic if you were picking with Jimmy Hoffa? [/me scuttles away to avoid thrown objects]

whistleman123
09-05-2015, 08:44 AM
Since I started this thread I thought I should post what I've decided fits my ear. First I should say I would like to concentrate on playing jazz/swing standards. Comping changes and melodic soloing. I tried my thumb and liked the sound, but it just isn't fast enough for up tempo single note runs. With the back and forth action of a pick fast runs become much easier. I tried several different thicknesses of plastic picks and all seemed too harsh. Then I tried a felt pick and it too seemed a bit harsh. I'd pretty much given up and was working on ways to soften the attack of a plastic pick when I had a thought. The felt picks I had bought were fairly thick with a sharp hard edge. I worked the tip of one down with some sandpaper making it thinner, softer, and without athe sharp edge. Wow, what a difference. The advantages af a pick and a softer sound like strumming with the meaty part of your thumb.

For now this is what I will use. Who knows in the future. I do see some finger picking in my future!

CactusWren
09-05-2015, 12:06 PM
Picks sound bad, but they are loud, fast, and easy to learn. Fingers sound better and are much more versatile, but much harder to play fast, loud, clear single lines. A felt pick would seem to be too soft to project. Thumb picks seem to be a good compromise since they leave the fingers free.

I like to use the thumb myself for lines. It sounds and feels good. Ohta-san does an amazing amount with just the thumb. (Also, watch flamenco player's thumbwork--they show how far it can be taken). If you have to burn, then add the index finger, pi. It's a pick-like motion, easy, and you can play as fast as you want. And sounds better than a pick. Another way to get easy speed is to use the index finger itself or the thumb itself like a pick, up and down, when speed is necessary.

Speed really isn't necessary as much as most think.

johnson430
09-05-2015, 01:49 PM
For now this is what I will use. Who knows in the future. I do see some finger picking in my future!

Learn finger picking.
I am using the Pekelo book 1 to learn finger-style. I just started the book and I can already tell a difference in my playing. Most obvious: I don't anchor my little finger; that was a very "bad habit" I picked up when I started playing last October.

Also, do you play with a strap? If not, I would strongly suggest getting a strap.
You will free up both your hands and picking will come much easier.

Best of luck to you.

Mivo
09-05-2015, 05:09 PM
I had no background of playing stringed instruments when I got into ukuleles. With my first uke I also got a felt/leather pick, but this didn't work well for me. It didn't feel natural to me, sounded more "mechanical", and seemed less immediate, so I switched to fingers. It's also one less thing to buy/replace/"AS"-over. :)

But trying out everything is definitely a good way, and see what clicks.