View Full Version : Using a pick

10-20-2011, 01:38 PM
simple question, does one ever use a pick with an ukulele or is it strictly a finger picked/strummed instrument. What about electric?

10-20-2011, 01:43 PM
One can do what ever they please. Usually felt picks or rubber picks are used with the ukulele. When I started I had a pack of different picks to use but I eventually found finger picking worked just as well or better for me. But like I said it all boils down to personal preference. If I had to guess though most people use just their finger and or nail. Hope this helps.

Even with electric I would think fingers are mostly used. There are some steel string ukes out there and I would probably use a pick for them but I don't have one.

10-20-2011, 01:52 PM
Why not? A pick, or plectrum, can scratch the strings of the ukulele over time more than using fingers and nails, but they are not all that expensive to replace. And, you can get a lot more notes out by double-picking. So if you want to pick, then by all means use whatever pick you like!

10-20-2011, 04:31 PM
I have been watching tons of Herb Ohta, Jr. videos this week. He uses a thumb pick. Who am I to say not to use them?

Pete Beardsley
10-20-2011, 09:36 PM
I tend to use a pick as I suck without one. Actually I suck with one, but that is a different story.
I find plastic picks tend to "clack" on the strings and sound bad. Felt ones are usually best creating the least unwanted noise, but do tend to break down over time and leave little fluffy fibres all over the place.
I recently got a leather pick from Jumping Cow and so far I am impressed. Minimal noise, hard wearing and comfortable to hold. The only downside is that it was quite expensive to buy at 3

10-21-2011, 02:08 AM
I use a thumb pick most of the time, mostly because I cannot keep a thumbnail at proper length and like the clear sound of a pick/thumbnail over the flesh of the thumb. My finger nails are not too difficult to keep proper, but thumb not. I use the thumb pick also because I like to keep my fingers free for strumming and picking as well. It will make a difference in sound of pick/fingernail over flesh picking. Whatever sounds good and feels right to you !! Lozark

10-21-2011, 05:36 AM
I bought a 3 pack of Kiwaya Leather picks on *bay for $12 and they are very soft and produce a loud sound.

10-21-2011, 10:01 AM
i found when learning it was alot easier for me to use a pick....but i started experimenting with using my fingers and found i preferred it that way. As mentioned above there is no problem using one except personal preference. I find the pick makes the uke TOO loud, in that it gets a reallly brash offensive sort of sound too it, i was much more gentle with my fingers...and able to produce the traditional uke sound

Ukulele JJ
10-22-2011, 07:36 AM
My standard reply is that using a pick on a uke is like using drumsticks on bongos.

I mean, you can do it.

And there's nothing technically wrong with doing it.

And some people do do it (usually people who are coming from similar instruments where picks/drumsticks are used... i.e., guitarists and drumset players).

But, to me, it fails to take advantage of the unique and specific character of the instrument. What we think of as the "traditional" ukulele sounds is produced by using one's fingers, just as bongos are traditionally played with bare hands. The "helper tool" shouldn't be used as a crutch because you haven't figured out how to play without it. I think you miss out on a cool opportunity that way.

But if you're using the "tool" on purpose, such as for the effect of it (to get a particular sound or volume), then why not? Go for it!


10-22-2011, 10:16 AM
I actually use a bone pick very often. I can play pretty much any style, but sometimes I just like the sound.... and sometimes I want to shred on that little thing. (Note that I use super high tension strings.)

It's all about timbre. If the pick gives you what you want, then use it. The same goes for the "you have to strum above the fretboard rather than the soundhole" crowd. It depends on what sound you are trying to elicit from the instrument.

10-22-2011, 10:35 AM
I've recently started using Dunlop .38mm picks. It's a real flexy pick and the noise is minimal for a plastic pick.

10-22-2011, 12:37 PM
I tried a pick early on - I got a felt pick and it did give quite a good sound but I found it too loud for singing and also I didn't hold it firmly enough so it kept falling out of my hand. :o

I strum with fingernail down and thumbnail up which gives the effect I want so I didn't really need a pick and it is lying idle in my uke bag. ;)

I notice that the Ukulele Orchestra of GB often use a pick for melody work - and it looks as if they use a plastic pick. I reckon it gives a firmer attack which brings out the melody more clearly.

So it's a choice that's available and use one when it seems appropriate.

10-29-2011, 02:41 PM
I use a thumb pick and love it. It is usually for those that like to fingerpick. Herb Ohta Jr uses one, so does Peter Moon. Judge from the results!

10-29-2011, 05:10 PM
I heard Tim Sweeney during the last week and he is the first one that I have seen play a uke with what appeared to be a flat pick. It sounded fine but I felt it eliminated a lot of the possibilities that the various strums present. FWIW.

10-30-2011, 04:25 AM
I've been trying to make the uke sound more like a mandolin, playing bluegrass and country, so I've been experimenting with picks and have had the best luck getting that crisp, bright sound with jazz guitar picks like the Dunlop Jazz III XL. Like olgoat says, you can't really strum with it - or I can't - but I can pick a lot faster and cleaner with it than without it.....probably because I'm a guitarist and my right hand technique sucks.:)

I've tried various types of finger picks as well - mainly for guitar, but uke as well - since my nails are pretty soft and I do lots of work with my hands.... just can't keep them long. Never had much luck with them.... have some of those Alaska Pik's on the way, going to give them a try next week.....