This is a common question for beginners and it is a very important one too! The overall sound we produce with our instrument depends on our right hand technique. And amongst other things, our right hand technique depends on whether or not we use the pick.
Do you need a pick to play ukulele? Traditionally, the ukulele is played with the combination of fingers and fingernails. But while you don’t need one, you absolutely may use one! The pick can be useful at times and it is your instrument after all! Let’s explore a little further.
Historically, the first ukulele players did not play with a pick. The traditional technique is to use a combination of fingers and fingernails to pluck individual strings as well as to strum. The traditional Hawaiian rhythms, for example, were always strummed using the thumb or the index finger or a combination of both.
As we’ve mentioned in other articles here, this kind of technique (fingerpicking) allows for specific movements, positions and gestures of the right hand that are not possible otherwise. It also produces a specific sound that would also be different with the pick. These are the main features of what we know as the normal technique and sound of the ukulele.
So if you are a stickler for tradition, you will not need a pick. Continue developing your left hand strength and your right hand’s fingerpicking dexterity and you’re good to go! But if there are issues that make you wonder whether you need a pick or not, read on because you’re probably not wrong.