How to Strum a Ukulele With a Pick

How to Strum a Ukulele With a Pick? Using a pick on a ukulele – some people despise the concept because they find it completely needless, others can’t imagine their ukulele journey without their trusty pick. As a beginner, it can be confusing knowing if you need one. The simplest answer is that you can most certainly use a pick; there’s nothing wrong there but for various advantages and disadvantages that come with it. For instance, people with weaker nails usually prefer using a pick to protect their nails from damage while playing the correct tunes.

Apart from being able to tune your ukulele, knowing various parts of it, the ability to read chord diagrams and change between the shapes fast, strumming is the most necessary element on achieving that classic ukulele sound. Strumming a ukulele with a pick means you don’t have to worry about the usage of every finger – you can just strum up and down.

So, if you’ve decided to use a pick on your ukulele, we are going to teach you how to strum your ukulele using a pick.

Choosing the Pick 

You can use a flat pick to strum a ukulele. The up-down strum can be done with any kind of pick, from a standard guitar one to a felt pick.

Thicker and pointier picks are great for precise picking. However, there is a certain learning curve involved with those. Picks come pretty cheap, so consider picking up a variety pack to check out which works best for you.

How to Hold It

Hold the pick firmly in your hand, but not so tight that you feel pain or tension in the rest of the hand. Hold the pick between your first finger and thumb. Alternatively, some practitioners like holding the pick between their side of their index finger and the pad of their thumb. Remember to keep your hand as relaxed as you can.

When using a pick, you can choose between picking one string at a time or strumming up and down.

Strumming with a Pick

If the picking motion comes from the elbow, exhaustion will take over your body faster than you think. Swinging from the elbow isn’t as efficient as swinging from the wrist, so we recommend the latter.

Try to move the pick as less as you can. Doesn’t sound easy, does it? Keep the underside of your hand aligned against the bridge of the ukulele to keep brushing against it to a bare minimum.

You don’t necessarily need to move your hand faster to pick faster. Build up speed by doing smaller motions needed to pluck the string.

1. Alternate Picking for Speed

It’s much easier to use a pick on a string when you have to play a flurry of notes.

The best way to do this is to alternate pick, i.e. always picking downstroke, upstroke, downstroke again, upstroke again, etc.

Alternate picking is ideal for when you’re playing on a single string. When playing on multiple strings, it’s not quite as effective. For instance, you choose to play a downstroke on the C-string followed by an upstroke on the E-string. Here, you need to move the pick by the E-string before coming up when it’s quicker to perform one more downstrum. This kind of picking, also known as economy picking, has its upsides. But alternate picking gives the note more details and keep the hands moving at a constant speed.

Strum a Ukulele

2. Tremolo Picking for Sustain

Ukuleles aren’t the best in the sustain department and everyone knows that. If you even get a “plink” out of your soprano played right up the neck, consider yourself lucky. A good way to recreate this sustain is repicking – continuously pick the string for the whole length of the note in a constant rhythm. Mandolin players do this all the time and it’s definitely useful.

To play them, simply fret the note as step one, and for step two, alternate pick the string (normally with eighth or sixteenth notes) for the length of the note.

The tab designated for tremolo is shown by one or more wide diagonal lines below the note. In technical terms, one-line stands for eighth note picking while two lines is for sixteenth note picking. However, some people may ignore this, so it’s ultimately dependent on how fast your tremolo strum can be.

This technique is super useful when performing in a ukulele orchestra. Use this to build up chords one by one on each ukulele.

3: Bashing the Strings for Attack

Although seemingly unlikely, the harshness of picks can often play to your strengths. In a group of strummers, this peck can help you stand out when performing a single string line.

The pick gives notes a much more piercing tone that matches the vibe perfectly. And when the time is just right, you will get that attack that wouldn’t be possible with merely fingers.

How to Strum a Ukulele Without a Pick

There are many ukulele strumming patterns you can try out, but for the most part, there are the up strums and down strums. As a beginner, the best and easiest way to strum is to just strum up and down using your fingers.

Feel free to use the pads of your fingers or fingernails to strum the ukulele strings. Evaluate which is more comfortable for you while producing better sound.

The standard up-down strum can be perform rhythmically to the beat of the music to create almost any kind of strumming effect. Depending on the rhythm of the song, you can strum at varying paces, and this simple patterns allows time to switch chords with a song change.

Also Read: How to Learn Ukulele in 30 Days: Beginner’s Guide

Final Words

We hope this guide was helpful in your ukulele lessons. Using a pick on a ukulele is rather similar to using one on a guitar, so you should find it easy if you’ve played guitars before. Even if not, it’s quite easy and requires consistent efforts.

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