Beginner - pick or no pick?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SteveXFR, Jun 2, 2019.

  1. SteveXFR


    Jun 2, 2019
    Hi. I'm just getting started, learning to just play some simple riffs and play along to some easy grunge and punk tunes.
    At the moment I'm playing without a pick, plucking with fingers but my main interest is punk and I've noticed a lot of my favourite punk bassists (especially hardco re bassists) seem to use a pick.
    If I want to play punk, should I use a pick from the start or learn to play without and then change?
  2. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    Nothing wrong with learning to play with a pick. I would highly suggest learning both techniques. Only a fool will tell you it is a bad idea to have more tricks in your bag.
    gebass6, JohnN, Spyder Mike and 52 others like this.
  3. ProfFrink


    Jan 16, 2015
    I'd say nothing wrong with learning both, but also don't get hung up on any specific technique either.

    IME when you're just starting the main thing is to have fun and to keep advancing in some areas. E.g, when I started it used to bug me that I couldn't play very fast, but in hind sight - yes, it's an issue for me, but Ive made much more progress (both in playing fast and in other ways) by simply keeping it up, and not so much by concentrating on the specifics of playing fast, which were mostly demoralizing.
    Bboopbennie, JohnN, mrcbass and 9 others like this.
  4. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    Mcboomport, RiXx, mrcbass and 13 others like this.
  5. SteveXFR


    Jun 2, 2019
    Right so a bit of both then. Thanks for the tips
  6. Turbo Sparky

    Turbo Sparky Supporting Member

    May 14, 2018
    South Eastern U.S.
    Pick playing IMO, all depends on the genre and what the song requires.
    Practice BOTH.
    I play HC/Post-HC/Punk primarily right now; pick/plectrum all day and night, but...
    when you-not if-you drop a pick, a player IMO should be able to transition to fingers immediately. Or, take only a millisecond to grab another pick. Depending on the era of punk/HC a song can totally die if the speed/attack on the bass line hiccups. While you're attack won't be identical when playing fingers versus a pick, the drop will only influence/modify your tone a bit, but the drive of the line won't be lost quite so much.
    Practice BOTH.
    Also, you will be able to play a multitude of others genres, and have better overall musicianship IMO.
    If you get too much "clack" and you don't like it, when picking, cut the treble/high mids a tad.
    Good luck.
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Both are valid - try both and see which you prefer.

    Just like everyone said you need a pick and a Ric to get the right tone for Yes - till Geddy nailed Roundabout with a Jazz and fingers.
    JohnN, Spyder Mike, RiXx and 9 others like this.
  8. SteveXFR


    Jun 2, 2019
    That makes a lot of sense. Can't let the energy drop in a hardcore tune.
    I've watched some more DK videos this afternoon and Klaus seems to play with and without. I really want to learn some Kennedys tunes.
    Spyder Mike, Mcboomport, RiXx and 2 others like this.
  9. Kro


    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    Was just reaching for the same gif. :thumbsup:
    jamro217 and And I like this.
  10. You can use both!

    The best thing to do is learn to use a pick, as well as playing fingerstyle... and throw some slap too while we're at it. The more you know, the more versatile you'll be and you'll be able to choose which style to play based on the sound you want, not your limitations (if you only can do one style, for example)
  11. It really depends on the sound you want to have/need, with Punk a pick is kinda normal to use. You gotta learn proper fingerstyle and a bit of slapping as well to be a more complete bass player though. You always need to be able to fall back on your fingers!
    JohnN likes this.
  12. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    Certain things are easier to do with a pick, certain things are easier to do with fingers. But if the tone you need is that punk rock rip your face off grind, the pick is where it's at. Other styles you may prefer the tone of fingers, so unless you want to be a one-trick-pony, definitely both.
  13. Ric5

    Ric5 Inactive

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses
    learn to use a pick, try many different picks, also learn to thumb pluck, learn to finger pluck, learn to slap, learn the Entwistle type writer method, learn the Billy Sheehan 3 finger plucking method, and learn pretty much any method out there
    Fialka and edencab like this.
  14. edencab


    Aug 14, 2013
    Toronto, On
    as someone who is self-taught and uses fingers 90% of the time...learn both!...I wish I had, and I am going to try to make this the summer of the pick, while we are on a break and try to improve my picking...
  15. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Dingwall-Fender-Bergantino-Dunlop-Tech 21-Darkglass-Nordstrand
    Learn to play with both: Matt Freeman used a pick, but Karl Alvarez used his fingers.

    Both valid methods to play, and being adept at both gives you more options to shape the instrument’s sound with.
    Need Gigs likes this.
  16. Hounddog409


    Oct 27, 2015
    You will hear alot of "tools in the bag" "well rounded" blah blah blah.

    Do what you want. Do you want to use a pick?

    I dont like playing with a pick, so I never do.
    It has never been an issue or cost me a job.

    The way I see it is the majority of "famous" bass players either use pick or dont. You dont see them change back and forth.

    Be yourself. Develope your own style.

    And yes, you can play punk without a pick.
    sqlb3rn, Nashrakh, BOOG and 1 other person like this.
  17. nilorius

    nilorius Inactive

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    You should try both ways and consider yourself what is best. I would say that fingering gives more technique possibilities, so i recommend it.
  18. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    Pick playing, especially in a hardcore or metal context can be every bit as tricky as slapping. String skipping, palm muting, and alternate picking are not “easier” than finger style. Short answer is yes. Do whatever sounds good for the song.
    Methaneman likes this.
  19. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    00 images2b2.png

    OP: i'm sorry that i've never played well with a pick. don't be sorry. learn both. good luck! :thumbsup:
    DiabolusInMusic and edencab like this.
  20. BAG


    May 5, 2014
    New Zealand
    At the start do whatever you feel most comfortable with as you'll progress quicker.
    Whatever you choose, do a little of the other every week.
    RedVee, SoCal80s and edencab like this.