Playing ukulele: with or without pick?

joueuse de ukulele
This question often comes up, when we talk about the ukulele, in dedicated forums and discussion spaces. The fact is that some artists and enthusiasts advocate the use of the pick while others prefer to stick to traditional techniques.
It is important to state at the outset that this beautiful musical instrument works very well in both cases. The real question then is: when to play the ukulele with your fingers and when is it better to use a pick?

The ukulele is primarily played with the fingers

The Hawaiians who invented the ukulele only used their fingers to produce the beautiful, playful sound of their little four-string guitar. They scratched on it with their first finger or thumb (usually both) at a fairly gentle pace. It is finger play that the ukulele owes this signature that characterizes it when playing the chords and the famous arpeggios that make up these chords. Even today, the most common way to play this instrument is with your fingers. It must be admitted that this technique has many advantages. Indeed, this method allows the artist to produce a less aggressive sound, but also to easily switch between arpeggios by very easily attacking several distant strings. In addition, using his fingers, it is easier for him to do "fingerstyle" (or fingerpicking) and therefore to vary the techniques. Finger play is highly recommended for those who are new to playing the ukulele and who want to work and practice effectively.

What is the interest of the pick?

The use of the pick is quite recent in the world of the ukulele. Experts say this is an evolution of the practice. Indeed, by using the pick, the players discovered that it is possible to play the instrument differently and to no longer limit themselves to traditional techniques. Currently, thanks to this method, many artists can adapt pop and rock songs. On the composer-performer side, the ukulele can be used in place of the guitar to accompany certain songs. Playing the pick also has several advantages. The felt picks or felt picks allow to bring out various styles of music, in particular those based on mechanical harmonics (only with metallic strings). In addition, you should know that it is only with a pick that the musician can adopt the technique of "economic picking". It is then possible for him to reach exceptional speeds when he plays his instrument. The pick is also a very practical support when you want to “sweep-picking” or play “palm-muting”.

So, with or without a pick?

The finger game is more suitable if you want to do fingerstyle arpeggios. The pick is more interesting if it's a solo. The two techniques can be combined for chords and arpeggios with notes played one after the other.

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