Fingers and picks, but thumb picks?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by bogwart, Apr 15, 2014.


  1. bogwart

    bogwart

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    I've been playing bass off and on for 18 years now and have always played either in a punk band or praise and worship groups through the church. In the P&W bands, I generally played with fingers and in the early days I used heavy picks but I kept throwing them on stage. I saw a bass player using the Jim Dunlop thumb picks and thought I would give those a try and I've stuck with them ever since. I've noticed I'm less likely to toss one and in all my years I've only ever had one break during a song. My fingers are still completely available if I need them during a slower, quieter part of a song (even though admittedly I don't usually go that route for punk).

    But, does anyone else play bass with a thumb pick? They certainly are harder to lose on stage, that's for sure. I've honestly never seen anyone else do it but in my opinion/experiences, it does make sense.
     
  2. bluesdogblues

    bluesdogblues

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  3. Nev375

    Nev375

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    I do. Welcome to the club. And you are right, it's a very small club.
     
  4. bogwart

    bogwart

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    used a thumb pick, or just his thumb?
     
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  6. N.F.A.

    N.F.A. Supporting Member

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    It seems perfect to me. Tried it awhile back but didn't stick with it. Maybe I will give it another go!
     
  7. bogwart

    bogwart

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    Hey, thanks! It does seem to be a very small club. So, what's your pick of choice? Here's mine. I use a medium. http://www.jimdunlop.com/product/shell-plastic-thumbpicks

    Now, my #1 drawback is that all of the picks I use are a heavier gauge. What I gain in comfort and feel I lose in speed. It's hard to get a thumb pick to flex quickly for some of our faster songs, but I've learned how to work around it.
     
  8. bogwart

    bogwart

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    You should! I notice I still hold it like a standard pick (if that makes sense) with my index finger and thumb, but again it stays in place and it's less likely to be dropped. I get so many weird looks and comments from other bass players all the time but hey, don't knock it till you try it, right?
     
  9. N.F.A.

    N.F.A. Supporting Member

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    I remember that it felt really good. I was using metal banjo pick though, maybe I need to go get one of those plastic Dunlops. Going to find them right now. Inspired!
     
  10. Nev375

    Nev375

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    It definitely takes a lot of getting used to. It was uncomfortable for weeks until I developed a callous on the back of my thumb near the nail bed.

    Not only that, but the picking angle is different from a normal pick too.

    I guess I'm just stubborn enough to stick with the idea to make it past that long transition phase. At the time I knew of no one else amateur or professional who did it. But that was years ago, way before the internet.

    Also, if you ask me. It's totally worth it to be able to switch effortlessly between the tones of finger and pick playing.

    No to mention the string skipping and octave licks it makes dirt simple.

    I use the large heavy gauge (big thumbs) or any big thick thumbpick. I'm not fussy about brands As a lot of times Its hard to find them in stores. I just buy a few when I see them and try to keep plenty around.
    But the metal ones turned out to be too flimsy for me and they sounded awful to my ears... and with my technique.
     
  11. bogwart

    bogwart

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    Nev375: It was probably around 1998 or so when I switched to thumb picks and haven't looked back ever since then. You hit the nail on the head...control, and options. It's easier to control the pick and having the options for finger playing during a song changes everything.

    The angle of the pick was an issue early on because if you don't attack the string just right it comes off more like a scrape than anything else, and that's an annoying sound. Did you see that Dunlop now has angled thumb picks? I might be swinging by GC on my way home to see if they have any in stock.

    http://www.jimdunlop.com/product/zookies-thumbpicks
     
  12. Nev375

    Nev375

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    I think I switched sometime in the very early '90's. And yeah I thought the angled tip ones would be cool too. But not for me. Apparently I pick pretty deep .... like past the angle of that bend and would catch that on the string on some rare occasions.

    So I just went back to the big regular ones. I still think those picks are a kinda good idea, just not for me.
     
  13. Nev375

    Nev375

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    I also tend to wear them out after a couple or three weeks of playing. They usually start going weak and break at the bend where they curve over your thumb. By that time I've worn a few millimeters off the tip to where its flat across anyway.

    Maybe I have an agressive technique?
     
  14. David Jayne

    David Jayne

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  15. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom Supporting Member

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    I've tried thumb picks and honestly, I really liked using them, because of the versatility mentioned of switching from fingers to pick. For years I was a fingers only player but have learned to use a pick over the last few years. I know use both a pick and fingers throughout my bands set.

    My only problem with thumb picks was that they were too tight around my thumb to where they got very uncomfortable after a short period of time and then, eventually, they cut off the blood flow to my thumb.

    I don't know if it's simply that my local store has only one size thumb pick in heavy gauge, or that I have very big thumbs.
     
  16. Steve S

    Steve S

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    I recall many bass players using them in 1965.
     
  17. bogwart

    bogwart

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    Same here. I've been buying them by the dozen on amazon and getting a good deal. I probably get about the same amount of life out of a pick before I move on to a new one.
     
  18. bogwart

    bogwart

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    You probably could use hot to boiling-hot water to make the plastic more pliable and open up the bend a little more. It'd be worth a shot.
     
  19. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom Supporting Member

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    I found one that I had lying around the house,a Dunlop. It has an "L" on it ( I assume for "Large). I wonder if they make XL
     
  20. Bassic Playing

    Bassic Playing

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    I used one for a while, found it got in the way of fingering picking a bit, but I probably would have adapted. It's actually really convient; i found that grasping it as you would a regular pick was exactly like using a reglar pick, no issues with angle
     
  21. Bobby Bass

    Bobby Bass

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    Been playing with my fingers since the 1960's. I got my right index/pointer finger caught in a machine & tore all the skin off the end. Ouch! Last weekend I tried to play with just my middle, ring & thumb. Awkward is how it was. I may just have to try the thumb pick. I'v got a Herco heavy. Kind of a cross between a thumb pick & a flat pick. Seems like I remember Barry Oakley with the Allman Bros. used a thumb pick.
     

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