This question often comes up, when we talk about the ukulele, in forums and dedicated discussion areas. The fact is that some artists and enthusiasts advocate the use of a pick while others prefer to stick to traditional techniques.
It is important to state from the outset that this beautiful musical instrument works very well in both cases. The real question then being: 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 used only their fingers to produce the beautiful, upbeat sound that emanates from their little four-string guitar. They strummed on it with their first finger or their thumb (usually both) adopting a fairly gentle rhythm. It is from playing with the fingers that the ukulele owes this signature which characterizes it when one plays the chords and the famous arpeggios which constitute these chords. Even today, the most common way to play this instrument is with the fingers. It must be said 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. Moreover, by using his fingers, it is easier for him to do "fingerstyle" (or fingerpicking) and therefore to vary the techniques. Fingerplay is highly recommended for those who are new to playing the ukulele and 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 ukulele. According to experts, this is an evolution of practice. Indeed, by using the pick, players have discovered that it is possible to play the instrument differently and no longer be limited to traditional techniques. Currently, thanks to this method, many artists are able to adapt pop and rock songs. For singer-songwriters, the ukulele can be used instead of the guitar to accompany certain songs. Playing with a pick also has various advantages. The "felt picks" or felt picks can bring out various styles of music, especially those based on mechanical harmonics (only with metal 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?
Fingering is best suited if you want to do fingerstyle arpeggios. The pick is more interesting if it's a solo. Both techniques can be combined for chords and arpeggios with notes played one after the other.