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Advantages to playing with a Plectrum

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Killed_by_Death, May 21, 2019.

  1. This morning I was explaining the difference between pick playing & finger-plucking & at the time it occurred to me that I liked the sound of my bass better with a pick.

    The downside was that I've got more fret-buzz (tuned to C Standard) than with fingers.
  2. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    Makes me wonder if it may be an angle of attack thing?

    Or potentially you're just attacking harder. Personally I embrace the buzz - it usually sounds good in the mixes I most often find myself in. :thumbsup:
  3. Tweak your action to suit your playing style. It'll clear that buzz right up.
  4. This bass is set up for E Standard. It remains playable in C Standard, but with some buzz.

    RE: buzzier with a pick
    It's the location of the attack, because I pluck closer to the bridge. It feels awkward trying to pick close to the bridge, puts my wrist at an odd angle.
  5. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    It took a while to evolve but my touch lightened up a lot after going to a pick.
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  6. My heart sunk to my soles this evening when I tuned up to Eb & it's still buzzing like mad.
    The string vibrates differently from a pick attack.
    It doesn't go side to side like with a pluck, it goes up & down, perpendicular to the fret-board.
  7. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    You just have to set the bass up, no big deal...picks are cool, and the sound is great, so go for it.
  8. DOH!,
    I'm halfway to the Ibanez dealer this morning & it just occurred to me that I should try a pick with some of their basses to see if it's just my technique or my bass.
    Unfortunately I forgot to grab a pick before leaving home, & the shop has none available for use, which I find short-shorted for a shop that prides itself on letting you try their stuff.

    So, now I have to either forget that idea or go home to grab one of my V-Picks. I've got the time, but it's an additional 40 minutes of driving.
    If I do become a full-time pick player, I guess I should stash at least one plectrum in my automobile.

    OTOH I've been thinking that maybe I don't want that extra zing ALL the time.
    It's kind of like the amp, I can set it to sound brighter, but I leave the knobs at noon most of the time.

    If you eat cake all the time, eventually you get tired of cake.
  9. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    If you are fancy enough to use the word "plectrum" you can just hire someone to play your bass with one.

    If I were a rock player I would definitely have a pick in my arsenal. Even for old school funky soul music, a pick with flats is definitely a thing.
  10. If I'm "fancy" for using proper terminology then I must be bloody royalty for pronouncing karaoke correctly & not using "tuner" & "tone" interchangeably with words that already exist.
    When is Robin Leach coming around for my interview?

    Well, that thing about necks needing time to breath between truss rod adjustment (or big tuning changes) is true!
    This morning I thought that the buzz had improved a little, before I bolted off to try my plectrum on some Ibanez at the dealer.

    No buzz at all on those in the store, but their action was about half a millimeter taller than on my bass.

    Cut to just now, several hours later, & the buzz is nearly gone on my bass at home.
    So, I can only surmise that the neck moved in the course of time from when I first tuned up to Eb & now.

    I'll tune to E Standard tomorrow & see how that goes. Yeah, I know I should tune it up right now & let it stay that way overnight, but what's life w/o whimsy?
    Jeff Bonny likes this.
  11. Im not a pick player but it sounds really good with basses like Hofner Viola Bass, Gretsch, and hollow body basses with flats in general...
  12. DistortedBass


    Nov 10, 2006
    Los Angeles
    Schecter Guitars Endorsee
    I've been using the the single finger , pick like approach Geddy Lee uses lately and it's worked out well as a pick substitute. It also allows a lot of versatility as i can do finger style and just drop it in when i want. Plus, no pick searches!
  13. Dan_reeves


    Jun 14, 2013
    Do you still have your white SRX, and is that the bass in question? If so, I have been learning to play pickstyle with my same white SRX. I play in E standard - Fat Beams 45-105. I roll the treble all the way off, solo the neck pickup, volume all the way, bass flat. I really like how that combo sounds, particular in a band mix. Also, I have found that wearing my bass a bit higher than normal helped get me in a better position to play with a pick. The bass is now more over my gut than belt level. It helped me get a better picking angle. YMMV. Works for me.
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  14. One of my proclivities since then is to stay away from opaque finishes.
    There wasn't anything particularly wrong with the SR eXtreme, it's just that my Ibanez Premium was so great that I decided I only needed one bass.
    It plays about the same as the SRX:

    When I first got it I put Stainless Elixirs on it & when I first used a pick with those I was gobsmacked!
    It sounded like the laser turrets on Star Wars, which was done using a crescent wrench on a guy wire.
    Dan_reeves likes this.
  15. Pick with muting like guitarists do. There are ways to get the sound with fingers, but its not the same. Also semi-strumming like Bobby Vega slopp'n BBQ sauce on the bass.
  16. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    Holding a pick the conventional guitar way is a problem with bass because a bass is larger, the bridge shifted to the right more, and the playing angle usually higher.
    I hold a pick such that the pick is perpendicular to my hand. Not between pad of thumb and side of first finger, instead, between tip of thumb and pad of first finger. The thumb is relaxed and no longer pushing downwards.
    I did this due to pain in the base of my thumb from gripping a pick.
    Seems to make picking effortless, i also use a very thick acrylic pick, 6mm.

    With the pick perpendicualr to the hand you can pick closer to the bridge.
  17. I'm having trouble imagining that, but from what I'm thinking it would make it almost impossible to palm-mute.
  18. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    Certainly impossible to palm mute, but the geometry of a bass in an ergonomic position makes that difficult anyway.

    I actually ended up playing this way through misunderstanding a description of the Carol Kaye pick technique.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  19. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Apart from whatever is going on with your setup, this sounds like a technique issue to me -- like your pick action is either pushing the string toward the fretboard or lifting it away from the fretboard. Could be that you're pushing down on downstrokes and pulling up on upstrokes, or something like that.

    Or, maybe your technique requires either a different kind of pick or holding the pick a different way. A trick I learned from Julie Slick was to use a teardrop-shaped pick and pluck with one of the rounded "corners" rather than the pointy tip. I've found that this makes it easy for me to brush the pick across the to of the string in both directions without "grabbing" it.
  20. MCS4


    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    One trick is to use one of the other two more-rounded corners of the pick instead of the tip when you want a less zing-y sound, and pick slightly closer to the neck during parts where you don't have to mute (you don't have to move far, as every little bit makes a difference). I do this a lot because I play a lot of rock/metal parts that require palm muting or are simply easier to play with a pick but often want to stick with a rounder tone that is more similar to my fingerstyle tone. This way I feel that I can choose whether to play with a pick or fingers based entirely on feel or ease of playing without feeling like I need to make the choice on tone. Plus I can always go back to standard picking with the tip if I want that extra edge.

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