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View Full Version : Using a pick when playing the ukulele



collmaria
07-12-2009, 11:33 AM
I am pretty new to the ukulele and am unsure whether or not to use a pick when playing. Also what kind of pick should I use? I heard about felt picks but I don't know where to get them.

AnnaUK
07-12-2009, 12:16 PM
I would say play however you feel comfortable. Some use fingernails, some use the fleshy part of the fingers, some use fingerpicks or AlaskaPiks, some use felt plectrums (feltrums). I don't think it matters. You could experiment and stick with whichever you prefer.

Personally I use the fingernails of all four fingers to strum, and usually my thumbnail when it isn't broken!

You should be able to get felt picks from most music stores, I should think.
Although this is a UK company, this page explains the differences pretty well:
http://ukulele-plectrums.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=16_19&products_id=49&zenid=fcb278063f00319cc8299e5fac19688f

Ukulele JJ
07-12-2009, 05:48 PM
I am pretty new to the ukulele and am unsure whether or not to use a pick when playing.

For what it's worth, the majority of ukers these days do not normally play with picks.


JJ

schuermurrman
07-12-2009, 05:55 PM
I think that it depends on what sound you are wanting. I really like to use a pick now...but It might because I started on the mandolin right before I switched into the uke. So I like to use mini picks...I think that it helps to give a real crisp sound.

http://img3.musiciansfriend.com/dbase/pics/products/6/1/5/591615.jpg

and I go for the light. You can also use reg old guitar picks if ya like too. Just really what ever ya feel comfy with.

buddhuu
07-12-2009, 10:51 PM
It is a personal thing. Whatever works for you.

For my part, I would never use a pick for uke now. I came from guitar and mandolin, so it felt weird at first, but now it's fingers and thumb only for me. I don't want to play uke like a guitar or mando, I want it to sound ukey! I find fingers much more versatile, and the tactile thing is a pleasure in itself.

Similarly, I never use a pick for bass guitar. I like the tactile connection I get from finger style.

casetone2514
07-12-2009, 10:57 PM
Like a lot of people here, I came from guitar and mandolin and found the transition to non-pick playing a bit weird. However, the flexibility of the various ukulele finger strum patterns (and the sound and feel of course) mean that I almost never use a plectrum unless I'm picking out a melody or doing a guitar parody - ie trying to make the uke sound more like a guitar.

Tony

Chrisuzwhite
07-12-2009, 11:00 PM
I use a pick almost exclusively because most of my ukulele performances are outside on loud streets while busking. It's really hard to get any real projection out of a ukulele, even a tenor, using just your finger!

I'm also a fan of the percussive sounds the pick makes on the wood of the ukulele. It also explains why I only play cheap-ass ukes ;) (Notice how beat up my tenor is next time you watch a video of mine!)

During recording and quiet songs indoors I do use my fingers, but those are rare occasions :/

upskydowncloud
07-13-2009, 12:44 AM
I am pretty new to the ukulele and am unsure whether or not to use a pick when playing. Also what kind of pick should I use? I heard about felt picks but I don't know where to get them.

I say go without a pick, Jake and Aldrine both use their fingers, it's the best way to do it if you ask me. The uke is too small to need a pick and you can't really get the strums and finger picking patterns right with a pick either.

wheelgunner
07-13-2009, 05:22 AM
I hesitate to add anything here being a relative beginner but... I don't use a pick preferring to use my index finger nail but some times I am tempted to go to a pick because I've noticed that there can be quite a difference in the sound I get from any of my ukes depending on the condition of my finger nail.

If the nail is long (relatively speaking) and just a bit rough the sound is much louder and sharper. If I have recently buffed the nail down, making it shorter and smoother, the sound is much more muted. Seems that a pick would give one a bit more consistancy though I probably will continue to just use my naturally grown pick.

collmaria
07-15-2009, 07:29 AM
Wow thanks everyone! Like some of you, I started playing the ukulele after a few years of playing guitar and I don't really like using a pick on the ukulele but when I am playing certain things like the intro to julia nunes' stairwell I find that is hard to really hear the individual notes played without a pick so I guess I will only really use the pick for things like that! Thank you for your help!:D

ichadwick
07-15-2009, 08:24 AM
I am pretty new to the ukulele and am unsure whether or not to use a pick when playing. Also what kind of pick should I use? I heard about felt picks but I don't know where to get them.

Learn to play with your fingers and hands, first. They are superb instruments. Your fingers give far more feedback than a pick. You can learn to use a pick later, once you got basic picking and strumming figured out.

When you do use a pick, consider something light and flexible. Felt picks are old-fashioned and clumsy, like fat, ugly SUVS. Where light picks fly over the strings like eager birds, felt picks wallow like bloated SUVs.

JayPr0digy
07-18-2009, 06:29 AM
I am pretty new to the ukulele and am unsure whether or not to use a pick when playing. Also what kind of pick should I use? I heard about felt picks but I don't know where to get them.

Try using your index finger to play the uke.
Majority of all uke players use their hands that why

Ukuleleblues
07-22-2009, 04:50 PM
I played guitar and started with a felt pick on the Bari uke. Now I play no pick and have deep sixed it on the guitar for some songs. I attended a Joel Ekhaus workshop and saw the light.

Citrus
07-22-2009, 10:48 PM
I agree about using the felt pick if you want to use any pick at all. Picks are made for gut strings like on guitars, they don't have the same benefit to nylon strings and can easily wear them down faster than their steel counterparts.

It's also a good idea to stay away from picks because you'll need to use your hands for specific ukulele things down the road, like finger rolls, tapping, and having the luxury of being able to pluck non-adjacent strings without having to hit the whole chord.

Ukulele JJ
07-23-2009, 02:02 AM
I was just reading an interview with guitarist Kevin Eubanks. This quote reminded me of this thread:

"I don't understand why people would choose a pick over the fingers. It seems like trying to type a letter with one finger."

:p

JJ