Any tips for learning to pick?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by pkeeg, Jul 12, 2005.

  1. I've been a finger player since I started to learn to play bass 10 years ago (Geezer Butler influence) BUT the want to be a competant pick player as well has hit me from I don't know where. I'm not into the argument of which style is better all I know is that the time for me to learn to pick has come. That little peice of plastic feels so weird that I'm not even shure how to hold it. Any comments on leaning the basics through to the advanced, picking styles, exercises, what dose and dosn't work for YOU or anything to do with learning to pick will be greatley appreciated. I'm sorry if this thread annoyes anyone RE: repeation or anything but I've received alot of help on these forums from good people on the other side of the world from me and for that I thank you all. Peace! :)
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Easiest way to grip it is between the side of your index finger and the pad of your thumb. Don't grip too hard or you'll wind up cramping. The picking motion should come entirely from your wrist; you should aim to keep your movements as minimal as possible. Keep the pick close to the strings. Flailing about with a pick looks dramatic, but it doesn't promote accurate playing.
  3. I'm primarily a finger player as well, but learned to use a pick about 10 years ago when I was listening to and playing a lot of Cure songs. I still use a pick occasionally to fit certain songs. I would recommend throwing on some Cure cds
    (their greatest hits stuff works great) and go crazy.
    Stay relaxed (you may lose the pick a few times early on)
    and experiment with different positions and attack strokes.
    Its cool sometimes to hit the string with the edge of the pick to get a scratchy tone.

    Good luck
  4. It's been so long, I can't remember how I learned to use a pick. I'm 90% finger but need to use a pick on some songs. It probably came naturally to me since I messed with guitar on and off. As far as tips or things to practice, don't forget the upstroke is as important as a downstroke. You can get some wicked speed going.

    Also, as far as pick weight, I play a medium. Some guys I know use a really rigid pick. It's really your preference. If a pick is too hard it may not flow through the strum. Again, your preference and based on your attack. Try some different styles.

    Playing closer to the bridge or neck will change your sound as well. Experiment, experiment, experiment. If you've logged any time on a guitar you'll probably "pick" it up pretty quick!

  5. "Its cool sometimes to hit the string with the edge of the pick to get a scratchy tone."

    Forgot about that... if you "scratch" while using effects, you can get some cool sounds with phase and flange. It's still a pick stroke, but you get some wavy tone to it.
  6. I use a heavy pick. The meds are too floppy and I feel I lose some tone with those. The heavies are more difficult to get through the string, though.
    Maybe start with meds and go from there.
  7. Try to find some live videos of bassists you like that use picks, and mimic their techniques. Roger Waters from Pink Floyd and both Paul d'Amour & Justin Chancellor from Tool come to mind as some of my favorite bass pickers.
  8. triggert


    Feb 5, 2005
  9. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    The number 1 thing is to keep your picking hand relaxed and loose. If you hold the pick too tightly you will develop a very sore cramp in your hand that makes playing difficult. If you find your hand, especially the area between your thumb an forefinger (assuming you hold the pick the normal way), starts to cramp up you may want to move to a heavier pick. This is because a loose pick will require more support from your fingers if you play with a heavy attack, which strains them more and makes your hand muscles hurt.

    The second tip I have is learn to pick CORRECTLY now, while you still can. Practice using alternate strokes, string skipping, tuplet patterns, and the like. Get these techniques programmed into your hands now before you learn bad habits that will take yet more effort to correct later on.