pics

hambone

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I've played steel string guitar for decades. Then, went to uke. I've always used a thump pic because I have a very hard time growing a sufficient thumbnail, even though my fingernails are fragile but fine.
Things changed a lot with a uke. Pics have to be much thinner. I thinned out my guitar pics but not all that much.
The main thing I want to say about thumb pics on ukes is that the pic itself has resonance and makes it's own noise. Drives me nuts. I tried various fixes including putting liquid vinyl on end of pic.
I've discovered that the main source of noise being the plastic itself is to just put a few very small patches of duct tape on the top of the pic close to the edge but not too close. This dampens the sound the actual pic makes. It ends up being much more similar to the sound my fingernails make which is near zero because they are not plastic they are more like cardboard or wood which you may imagine makes much less noise.
I should say that I hear the noise mostly when I'm trying to play a classical piece that demands more tonal consistency and striking all 4 (or 3) strings at exactly the same time (I'm not THAT good!; it's a very simple piece; but that tends to be when I hear it). I think it is a not insignificant effect with lots more than the uke picking if not hard rock.
 

Voran

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Poop to using picks with the uke. I like just using my fingertips.
 

ploverwing

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I had to use a pick for my mando (I'm sure others don't). I don't have to use a pick for my uke. I am learning classical style, and, while I've tried with fingernails, I actually prefer without. Have you tried just picking with the pads of your fingertips? Or do you not like that either?

I can totally imagine what you're meaning about that extra noise with the pick, that would drive me mental, too. That's a really interesting idea to add a little duct tape. I wonder if fabric adhesive tape would be even better (the white stuff you stick gauze on for an injury)?
 

Patty

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I've played steel string guitar for decades. Then, went to uke. I've always used a thump pic because I have a very hard time growing a sufficient thumbnail, even though my fingernails are fragile but fine.
Things changed a lot with a uke. Pics have to be much thinner. I thinned out my guitar pics but not all that much.
The main thing I want to say about thumb pics on ukes is that the pic itself has resonance and makes it's own noise. Drives me nuts. I tried various fixes including putting liquid vinyl on end of pic.
I've discovered that the main source of noise being the plastic itself is to just put a few very small patches of duct tape on the top of the pic close to the edge but not too close. This dampens the sound the actual pic makes. It ends up being much more similar to the sound my fingernails make which is near zero because they are not plastic they are more like cardboard or wood which you may imagine makes much less noise.
I should say that I hear the noise mostly when I'm trying to play a classical piece that demands more tonal consistency and striking all 4 (or 3) strings at exactly the same time (I'm not THAT good!; it's a very simple piece; but that tends to be when I hear it). I think it is a not insignificant effect with lots more than the uke picking if not hard rock.
Do you just pick with your thumb then, not using your other fingers? Try using the others along with your thumb. I just use the flesh of my fingertips.
 

Kenn2018

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Have you tried aLaska Piks? Plastic or brass fingerpicks that fit over the finger and under the nail.

The plastic you can trim to the length you want with clippers and a nail file. The brass you need to grind or file down.
Several other types and brands on the same Amazon page.
 

rainbow21

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Recent thread that had me buying Fred Kelly picks. You might look at his website. I like the slick pick and he has plastic versions of the Alaska picks linked above.
 

TopDog

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I never use a pick. And I never did in forty odd years of playing guitar, (steel strung) both acoustic and electric, and both six and twelve string.
 

PeteyHoudini

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Interesting idea with the tape. I tend to use my thumb and the pads of my 4 fingers. Mark Nelson’s “Finger Style Solos for Ukulele” explains this technique very well. Slack key style.
 
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rustydusty

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I've always used a pick in the 50+ years I've been playing guitar, banjitar, tenor banjo, dulcimer and ukulele. My go to pick is a "Jim Dunlop" .60 or .73. Flexible, quiet, and a good gripping surface.
 

Jim Yates

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In the early sixties, my brother and I learned fingerpicking by slowing 33 rpm records of Libba Cotten, John Hurt and Dave Van Ronk to 16 rpm, which dropped them an octave.
We managed to get a plastic thumbpick and two metal fingerpicks from a neighbour who had taken steel guitar lessons. When we lost one of the fingerpicks, we retrained ourselves to play with the thumb and index. Over the years, I have gone through stages of playing with picks and with fingernails. These days I prefer playing with nails. Until COVID closed down the nail salons, I would get acrylic gel nails on the index, bird and ring fingers of my right hand, but I haven't done that for a couple of years now. I think I may go back to it.
 

bbkobabe

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Hmmmm... opened this post expecting to see photos...

I used to play with a guy (on guitar, fyi) and if his nails were not just right or if he had chipped one, he would not play and we would have to cancel practice... annoying!

I used to play bass back then, before I came to ukuleles. Always played with just my finger tips.

I tried playing (steel string) guitar for a while... with just my bare finger tips...Guitar god Steve Kimmock agreed and advised me to stay the course and avoid "pics"... I've stayed with that advice ever since. There is just so much more you can do and ways you can sound!

I don't like the sound of nails on strings when I play... I cut them to the quick and dress them with a bit of 220g sandpaper... just to keep them out of the way.

Occasionally one of my young students complains of sore fingers, and I keep a box of those felt picks around for them.

Other that that, I have yet to find a reason to use one...
 

PeteyHoudini

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Intetesting talk about fingernails. i keep all my fingernails long in my right hand for my uke playing. On July 17, I was in a cycling accident and an ambulance transported me to the hospital where I’ve been for two weeks and counting. Broke both elbows and both sides of my jaw which is wired shut and I only drink liquids.

Enough of my sob story though I miss playing uke, piano, and swimming. Anyway, when I was in the ambulance, I heard the EMS worker comment about long fingernails on my right hand during my extreme trauma. I woke up to say » I play uke. ». haha. true story.
 
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TaoCat

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Intetesting talk about fingernails. i keep all my fingernails long in my right hand for my uke playing. On July 17, I was in a cycling accident and an ambulance transported me to the hospital where I’ve been for two weeks and counting. Broke both elbows and both sides of my jaw which is wired shut and I only drink liquids.

Enough of my sob story though I miss playing uke, piano, and swimming. Anyway, when I was in the ambulance, I heard the EMS worker comment about long fingernails on one hand during my extreme trauma. I woke up to say » I play uke. ». haha. true story.
Ouch, best wishes for a speedy recovery.
 

bbkobabe

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Thanks. It was bad but in 9 days, my jaw will be unwired and I can go home but I will still have a cast and a sling. Physio on the horizon.
OMG! That sounds intense...

I was in an accident this spring... But I was in a heavy car so I was not seriously injured. Every day I count how lucky I am, despite the continued discomfort (and lingering headache) that I wasn't seriously hurt.

Maybe some of your local ukulele friends can play for you while you heal?

Be well... and get some body work done as soon as you can stand it.

It's a long journey back... stay strong!
 

Kenn2018

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Intetesting talk about fingernails. i keep all my fingernails long in my right hand for my uke playing. On July 17, I was in a cycling accident and an ambulance transported me to the hospital where I’ve been for two weeks and counting. Broke both elbows and both sides of my jaw which is wired shut and I only drink liquids.

Enough of my sob story though I miss playing uke, piano, and swimming. Anyway, when I was in the ambulance, I heard the EMS worker comment about long fingernails on my right hand during my extreme trauma. I woke up to say » I play uke. ». haha. true story.
Recover quickly Petey. Here's hoping for a complete recovery.

'Course, you know, you're going to have to drink your sparkling wine through a very long straw until your elbows heal.

All the best to you.
 

TerryM

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Sorry to hear that, Petey. My wife was in a cycling accident awhile back and broke her jaw, ribs, punctured lung and assorted contusions. Was a while getting over everything, including the mental side of getting back on a bike in traffic.

I wish you all the best, and hope you're back to playing uke and swimming soon and that the inevitable PT is not too gruelling.
 

PeteyHoudini

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“Thanks everyone," while writing on my iPhone from my hospital bed. I don’t want to hijack the original thread. It’s just I said’ “I play ukulele” while in the ambulance. Could have been my last words. haha. Thanks everyone. I could use a stiff drink. hehe