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View Full Version : Pick lovers, haters or the curious...a review for your reading pleasure



weeshan
02-26-2017, 07:39 AM
Let's start by saying I hate using picks while playing and I know that the majority of uke players don't use them. Even felt picks are harsh and unnatural sounding.

My boyfriend has played acoustic guitar for 20+ years and he likes thin picks, the .5 thickness ones specifically. The other day I ordered him some new ones off Amazon, along with some super thin .38 ones to try. What the heck, only $3.24 for 12.

Just for fun, I decided to try one of these paper thin picks on one of my ukes and WOW! They sound and feel completely natural on the uke strings, almost like your nails and because they are so flexible, they just bend however they need to as you play, with no harsh unnatural sound. I was completely surprised and impressed!

I will never be a regular pick user...I prefer direct contact with my instruments. But for those occasions when you just want to do something different, these are fantastic. I have never in my life used a pick that felt almost the same as using my fingers.

So for the pick lovers, the ones that are curious or even those that have always hated them, maybe give these a try. Dunlop nylon guitar picks, .38 thickness, $3.24 on Amazon. I'm now keeping a couple in my cases just for fun. https://www.amazon.com/Dunlop-44P38-Standard-Guitar-12-Pack/dp/B0002D0CGC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488133187&sr=8-1&keywords=.38+guitar+picks

bikemech
02-26-2017, 07:59 AM
I have never been able to get along with picks, but I understand their benefits and why some players prefer to use them on ukulele or guitar. One of the reasons I moved to ukulele was the fact that I could strum without holding a pick (I always had trouble holding a pick) and still get a good level of volume. I think that is one of the strengths of the ukulele. But the ukulele sounds good when played expertly with a plectrum as well. It sounds like you are having fun experimenting.

David

Rllink
02-27-2017, 07:01 AM
I've never used one. I think that my attitude toward them is that they are just one more thing that you have to have with you once you start using them. I just don't want to get started playing with one and then show up somewhere and feel handicapped because I lost my pick. My whole approach to ukulele playing is to keep it as simple as I can. But just from my observations, no experience to rely on unless you count the two months that I played guitar and used a pick before I discovered the ukulele, it seems to me that picks are restricted to up and down in some sort of rhythm, or maybe picking individual notes. Using a pick pretty much rules out fans, triplets, fingerstyle, and probably a few more fancy dandy right handy work. I don't know how hard it is to chunk with one. But that is just my opinion.

Rob Uker
02-27-2017, 07:46 AM
It's never good to be a hater.
Every tool has a purpose.

Griffis
02-27-2017, 07:59 AM
I occasionally use a very thick jazz guitar pick for staccato runs. Sometimes I use different thicknesses of pick, but I like them very rigid.

As I say, I use them sparingly...maybe 5% of the time.

Never cared for the big felt picks.

Just another color to add to the palette on occasion.

spookelele
02-27-2017, 09:26 AM
I just cant get tone control from picks.
With a finger nail, especially a thumb, there's just more control with how much flesh/vs nail you hit with that I cant get from a pick.

Jake does some explaination/examples in this vid.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YghKmIyieYw

discussion about tone around 1:15

70sSanO
02-27-2017, 10:29 AM
I had never used picks, but when my wife took lessons, I got some Dunlop nylon .6mm to help her get into a rhythm that was difficult using her fingers. I play fingerstyle, but on those occasions when I need to strum accompaniment and want a little more volume and definition, those picks work quite well.

John

mountain goat
02-27-2017, 02:19 PM
as an esteemed member once said:
every time someone uses a pick on a ukulele, a fairy dies.

Kayak Jim
02-27-2017, 02:29 PM
as an esteemed member once said:
every time someone uses a pick on a ukulele, a fairy dies.

I was sitting on the fence 'till I read this.

Back to my practice....

Steedy
02-27-2017, 05:52 PM
I hardly ever use one, but a pick can provide a nice bright tone for specific licks or single-note runs now and then. I like the Wedgie rubber picks for those. They give me a little extra volume and brightness, but without any 'pick click' sounds. These are the ones I like: Wedgie rubber picks (https://www.amazon.com/Wedgie-WRPR31S-Rubber-Refill-Pieces/dp/B001KZH72S/ref=sr_1_6?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1488257331&sr=1-6&keywords=wedgie+rubber+pick). They got 'em in 3-packs as well.

TCK
02-27-2017, 06:33 PM
I feel like my foray into Mandolin is summed up so perfectly here...why did I buy this damn thing? I just throw the pick across the room on every tune.
as an esteemed member once said:
every time someone uses a pick on a ukulele, a fairy dies.

drbekken
02-27-2017, 07:23 PM
I had a few classical guitar lessons when I was a kid. Not many, but enough to make me an eternal fan of fingerstyle playing, on guitar, and later on the ukulele. Some say they have better contact with the instrument, and that's my feeling, too. Even an electric guitar hero like Jeff Beck plays with his fingers... That said; I have no guru rule here. Much great music has been played by people using picks. To each their own. But on a uke....??? I don't know...

LimousinLil
02-27-2017, 07:37 PM
as an esteemed member once said:
every time someone uses a pick on a ukulele, a fairy dies.

Well, I use one occasionally when I want to make a "big" sound (a felt one, obviously); because I keep breaking my fingernails. (I can only apologise for raising the mortality rate amongst fairies!)

willisoften
02-28-2017, 01:40 AM
I feel like my foray into Mandolin is summed up so perfectly here...why did I buy this damn thing? I just throw the pick across the room on every tune.

I can see the headline in the tabloids now:

Fairy Killed by Flying Pick

bunnyf
02-28-2017, 02:29 AM
I've gotten use to a pick from playing guitar and have a variety that offer a different feel and sound. I don't often use them on my ukes but they come in handy if I want more volume and clarity. Sometimes a group can be all over the place with their timing (when there is no bass player or percussionist) and if I'm leading, the pick can help me establish a strong rythym for everyone to follow. Also, I have very soft nails and when I play for long period of time (which I often do) my index fingernail can wear down to the quick. I've tried clear, nailhardening polish but it really doesn't help and I don't want to bother with an artificial nail. I just slide on a Kelly pick or grab a guitar pick if I'm playing for several hours. I have a variety of picks, different material and thicknesses, but my go-to is usually a Dunlop .5mm. I have a few felt picks but rarely use them (does anyone?). I break them out once in a blue moon and then I quickly remember why I don't like them. I don't like the sound or feel. I can only imagine their allure is that they won't scratch your uke or make a clicky pick sound. I grip my pick in a way that not that much pick projects out from under my thumb, so I'm not likely to hit the face of my ukes. My favorite Bari is a cutaway, so the chance of hitting my uke is even slimmer. Like others, I'm still a fan of the feel and sound of fingers on strings but picks are useful tools on occasion.

strumsilly
02-28-2017, 02:55 AM
I use a thin pick with my 8 string when I need to play loud. It also gives an interesting [to me] percussive sound. It does scratch the top, but it was a cheap one I repaired . I've killed a lot of fairies with it though.

Griffis
02-28-2017, 02:58 AM
The idea that using a pick is "wrong" on a ukulele is exactly the same as saying the soprano is the only "real" ukulele.

Just saying.

One Man And His Uke
02-28-2017, 07:28 AM
I find a pick useful when strumming the wound strings on my baritone, otherwise it can get a little uncomfortable. You can even hybrid pick if you want. It's your choice, your music you're making. If you want to pick it with your teeth or put a violin bow across it, go for it.

actadh
02-28-2017, 08:00 AM
I mostly do chord melody or fingerpick. I never thought I would use a pick until I started participating in a ukulele choir that practices strumming songs for an hour. Using pick/plectrum sounds like a pretty good idea about 30 minutes into it.

Thanks for the discussion on thinness versus thickness of the pick - I was just going to cut the corners off an expired debit card or gift card and use it.

And, I can now justify this - http://www.ebay.com/itm/Professional-Guitar-Plectrum-Punch-Picks-Maker-Card-Cutter-DIY-Own-Black-USA-/232255023153?hash=item36137a6831:g:~WoAAOSw7FRWW~o t

UkuleleLibrarian
02-28-2017, 08:12 AM
I used a pick for a few years. I have a cheap Stagg uke and the strings that came with it were hard, very hard, almost like plastic, and it was impossible for me to strum with my fingers. I used the thinnest pick I could find at the guitar store that day, 46 mm, I believe.

It didn't cross my mind until about a week ago to change the strings. (I guess I always thought I'd be getting a new ukulele one day, but never did.) I got some Martins, and changed them out and haven't used a pick since. I picked up some bad habits, using the pick, though, and I'm really having to relearn strumming.

Rob Uker
02-28-2017, 09:40 AM
If Jimmy Page can use a bow on a guitar, you can use a pick on a ukulele.

Griffis
02-28-2017, 10:37 AM
I used a pick for a few years. I have a cheap Stagg uke and the strings that came with it were hard, very hard, almost like plastic, and it was impossible for me to strum with my fingers. I used the thinnest pick I could find at the guitar store that day, 46 mm, I believe.

It didn't cross my mind until about a week ago to change the strings. (I guess I always thought I'd be getting a new ukulele one day, but never did.) I got some Martins, and changed them out and haven't used a pick since. I picked up some bad habits, using the pick, though, and I'm really having to relearn strumming.

Hello from a fellow librarian! MLIS from OU in 2006.

I just discovered Martin uke strings and like them a great deal. I put them on my El Cheapo 1950s no-name Japanese uke.

One thing I thought was cool about your post is that (so far) you've stuck by your Stagg. I've owned several nice, pricey ukes, vintage, etc. But at the moment I have 4 ukes in various sizes (my baritone was a gift) and cases aside, I have less than $200 total invested in them.

I am all for high-end and custom work-of-art ukes and other instruments, but they are too precious and fussy for my lifestyle.

I think there's also a kind of beauty in having something meager but playable...that you have to work to get the most out of. Just making the most of what you have.

I'm reminded of Leadbelly, whose catalog of recordings is a cornerstone of American folk music, and who played nearly everything on an old 12 string Stella guitar, even then considered a budget "catalog brand" guitar.

You don't "need" another uke, but if you choose to get another one, I believe it will work out the way it's meant to. Meanwhile, play the heck out that Stagg and enjoy!

weeshan
02-28-2017, 02:50 PM
If Jimmy Page can use a bow on a guitar, you can use a pick on a ukulele.

Love it...for me, it's all about making music, not about what you are making it with.

Griffis
02-28-2017, 02:58 PM
If Jimmy Page can use a bow on a guitar, you can use a pick on a ukulele.


Love it...for me, it's all about making music, not about what you are making it with.

Right on. Two centuries ago, the bass viol was almost always bowed. Now, outside classical music, finger-thumping the upright bass is far more common.

And who was the first person to take a guitar, flip in onto its back, rest it on their legs and start messing with open tunings and a slide?

70sSanO
02-28-2017, 03:05 PM
The idea that using a pick is "wrong" on a ukulele is exactly the same as saying the soprano is the only "real" ukulele.

Just saying.

So using a pick on a soprano equals?

John

Croaky Keith
02-28-2017, 10:34 PM
So using a pick on a soprano equals?

John

Some would say heresy. :rotfl:

chuck in ny
02-28-2017, 11:58 PM
i like picks and use dunlop picks on my thumb, index, and middle fingers. i don't play guitar and feel comfortable using their tools. plastic on the thumb, sometimes a national m pick, and .018 or .020 steel on the fingers. as a finger player they provide clarity without necessarily being brighter. it's about how a string is plucked, for your music, nothing more or less. i would prefer not to use them but with short fingernails from work it becomes the practical plan. playing the uke is nonconformist, and you can play,,, whatever size instrument you wish,,, however you care to play it. music is an extremely broad field and this calls for tolerance how others wish to express themselves.

UkuleleLibrarian
03-01-2017, 03:41 AM
Hello from a fellow librarian! MLIS from OU in 2006.

I just discovered Martin uke strings and like them a great deal. I put them on my El Cheapo 1950s no-name Japanese uke.

One thing I thought was cool about your post is that (so far) you've stuck by your Stagg. I've owned several nice, pricey ukes, vintage, etc. But at the moment I have 4 ukes in various sizes (my baritone was a gift) and cases aside, I have less than $200 total invested in them.

I am all for high-end and custom work-of-art ukes and other instruments, but they are too precious and fussy for my lifestyle.

I think there's also a kind of beauty in having something meager but playable...that you have to work to get the most out of. Just making the most of what you have.

I'm reminded of Leadbelly, whose catalog of recordings is a cornerstone of American folk music, and who played nearly everything on an old 12 string Stella guitar, even then considered a budget "catalog brand" guitar.

You don't "need" another uke, but if you choose to get another one, I believe it will work out the way it's meant to. Meanwhile, play the heck out that Stagg and enjoy!


Hi! I'm MLIS U of Alabama 2010. It's nice to meet other librarians here. Yes, I've stuck by my Stagg, but I isn't from any virtue that I possess. I would love to keep it at work for story times and play something nicer at home, if there was ever lots of money just lying around. :) I've come to love the Stagg, though. It would break my heart if something every happened to it

fowl
03-01-2017, 04:04 AM
I am old enough to remember getting inexpensive ukuleles in the 1950's and they almost always came with a very soft felt pick. It gave the uke a very mellow brushed sound that I liked. The felt picks I find now are much harder and not very flexible. they make the uke louder. Does anyone know where I might find a really soft flexible felt pick like the old ones other than with an old uke at a thrift shop?

weeshan
03-01-2017, 06:06 AM
I am old enough to remember getting inexpensive ukuleles in the 1950's and they almost always came with a very soft felt pick. It gave the uke a very mellow brushed sound that I liked. The felt picks I find now are much harder and not very flexible. they make the uke louder. Does anyone know where I might find a really soft flexible felt pick like the old ones other than with an old uke at a thrift shop?

Hey there fowl...try leather instead of felt. I experimented last year and made some leather picks out of scrap I had from crafting projects. The sound was soft and brushed, as you describe. In fact...if you want, I can make and send you a couple?

bratsche
03-01-2017, 06:21 AM
I usually use a flat pick when playing my baritone, as it's what I'm used to after playing mandola, and it's the only way I can play intricate passages with any speed or accuracy. If I'm playing a plain chord melody, though, I will often just use my thumb, but I find that any attempt to use thumb and fingers for separate notes results in my becoming quite flummoxed and tense. Years of viola/violin background, and then the mandola, have apparently programmed my right hand digits only to work together in sync, but not to independently multi-task. ;)

bratsche

fowl
03-01-2017, 09:11 AM
Weeshan, I would love to try a couple of those leather picks. My grandkids like the one old felt one I have and I do not have any scrap leather that I know of. I will try to PM you my info. Thanks.

AndrewKuker
03-01-2017, 10:42 AM
If you need a good fairy exterminator Joey's the man.

https://youtu.be/gQekdN9ketQ

http://youtu.be/gQekdN9ketQ