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chords: pick versus fingers

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by meta, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. meta


    Mar 11, 2009
    I'm a converted guitarist, so that is where this is coming from in the first place.

    i've been playing bass a few months, and decided to go 100% finger method only, started anchoring the thumb, then moved to floating thumb recently. and chords were easy to play as I could pluck all the strings with 2 or more fingers of my right hand while holding down a chord on the neck with my left hand.

    now I'm going back to the pick (I will always probably go back and forth, depending on the sound / feel I want), but I find it extremely hard to get the same clarity out of the chords that I had with the finger method. I don't have a problem if i only play the D and G strings... but that is kind of limitting. And the A string can sound sort of OK with a picked chord, but the E strings sounds downright unmusical.

    Is it just a well known thing about playing the bass that to make proper chords you can't really use a pick?

    My ultimate technique, btw, which I have yet to perfect, is to hold the pick with my thumb and index finger, and play finger technique with my middle, ring, and pinkie fingers (might have to leave the pinkie out), that way I can get the best of both worlds and mix it up at leasure in the same song (picking up and putting down a pick is a definite no midway through a song, as if I need to say that lol). the problem is my finger method right now is only index and middle, so I need to switch it to middle and ring, which will take some work, but that also sounds like fun.

    Anyways, if anyone has any insight on chords with a pick, that would be great!


  2. I guess I'd try it in different locations on the body- if you're playing back by the bridge, try closer to the neck or somewhere in between.
  3. schnigges


    Jun 29, 2008
    that technique sounds cool, develop it
    when training your middle and ring fingers you could make the connection to 3 finger style ( if interest is there) I use it a lot, not for speed, but i don't get tired as fast as only w 2 fingers.
  4. meta


    Mar 11, 2009
    Hmmm. 3 finger style. Yes, that sounds quite interesting too. and is the natural progression. Eventually I'd have the pick and 2 fingers, or 3 fingers and a thumb. the pinkie i don't know if i'll ever be able to use... ;)

    location: I'll try a few different positions, maybe that will help. thanks.
  5. One thing I have experimented with is using a thumb pick. It holds onto my thumb pretty well so I can go two-fingers, but when chords come up I have the pick there.

    I also have practiced using my finger- and thumbnails instead of a pick, a la Les Claypool. Just some things that I have tried.

  6. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois

    This is an extremely unconventional way to play but there is often a great deal to be gained by taking a route that no one else uses. :smug:

    I started experimenting with a thumb pick a few years ago and have found it very useful on occasion. One thing I've found is that typical picks are too light for bass work so I've made a handful of brass picks out of broken cymbals and used them, either fastened to my thumb or just held normally.

    It takes a long time to gain any proficiency with a thumb pick if you're not used to one with the bass, so if you decide to try this, don't give up on it until you put in the hard work to make it payoff.

  7. I started using thumbpicks when I was playing guitar in my teens, since otherwise I will literally white-knuckle a regular pick. Fell in love and a set of thumb-picks was one of my first purchases when I got into playing bass almost a year ago.

    They are mostly a confidence booster for me, since I am better with a pick than my fingers on more complicated lines that traverse several strings but like everyone else on this board says, practice is only making it better. But I am just putting what has worked for me out there for other to try.


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