The use of picks for playing ukulele can be a hot topic – I think it is a simple matter of personal preference. I do make my students start without a pick for the first few lessons because I want them to physically get used to touching the instrument. I tell them one of the rewards for learning to strum the first song is we bring out the picks! By the end of the unit, about half of my students choose to play without the pick.
If you do use a pick, please use a felt pick! Plastic guitar picks are too intense for the ukulele strings. They make a terrible sound, and they are way too loud, especially in a classroom setting.
I had trouble finding a felt pick that produces the gentle sound I want. Therefore, I started having custom felt picks made! After letting some of my music teacher buddies try them out, most feel the picks are comfortable to hold, and provide a very natural sound.
However, a couple of teachers wished the picks were a little stiffer. (Again, personal preference on the ukulele sound!). After research, I discovered an easy, quick, and cheap method for stiffening the picks! (Note: if you purchase Rainbow Ukulele picks, I am happy to discuss performing this service for you!)
- Picks (do 1 or do them all!)
- School glue.
- Parchment or wax paper.
- Dish large enough to submerge your picks.
- Paper Towels.
1. Mix glue and water in a 50/50 ratio. Stir until you have a thin, creamy consistency.
2. Submerge the picks completely in the glue and water solution. Let them sit for 15-30 minutes.
3. Remove picks from glue after 15-30 minutes.
4. Gently pat with a paper towel. Don’t press too hard – simply remove the excess glue.
5. Let them dry overnight and the picks are ready to be played!
Let me know in the comments if you try it! In the mean time, check out the video explaining the process and demonstrating the picks!
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This is very informative and helpful Infect I have to decide next month i will start ukuleles & for this first time and photos have created some question for me, especially because all are too soft
Great! I agree – a lot of felt picks are soft! Email me if you have further questions! [email protected]
This is so helpful! I’m starting ukuleles next year for this first time, and picks are a big question for me, especially because they’re too soft. I feel like they don’t work as an extension of your hand. But this may help. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you so much for your kind words! Glad I could help!
Just tried this with a 7 mm thick felt pick, and the result was surprisingly good. I was always happy with the sound and attack from the Ibanez Rubber Grip pick, but it really sucks for strumming. Conversely, felt picks strum very nicely, but individual notes sound a bit too muted. My glue-treated felt pick still strums really nicely and is quite louder now, also when picking single notes. However, it does have a bit of a scratching noise, but I suspect a few days of wear will round it out. If it doesn’t, well, the felt has become quite hard, so I may experiment with shaving the tip of the pick to a thinner/more pointy profile. Overall this was a neat hack that gets my recommendation.
Great feedback!! 🙂 So glad it was helpful!!!