Finger picked sound too dull?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by izzy7, Sep 17, 2013.

  1. izzy7


    Sep 9, 2013
    Whenever I record bass parts with my Precision I notice that fingerpicked sound seems too dull. If I play with a plectrum the bass part cuts through the mix whereas the fingerpicked seems dull and gets lost. Any idea on how to fix this?
  2. Hamlet7768

    Hamlet7768 Here to chew gum and rock. Still have gum.

    Jun 5, 2011
    Fresh strings.

    Boost your mids.

    Add some drive.

    Use the plectrum.

    Use your fingernails.
  3. izzy7


    Sep 9, 2013
    Forgot to say- bass tone is on full and I would like to learn to have a good sound fingerpicked because it is softer and sometimes suits mood of the song better than the plectrum...
  4. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    +1 Especially new strings
  5. seescottrock


    Apr 13, 2011
    Utica, NY
    New set of stainless rounds. Maybe some compression and light OD.
  6. George Mann

    George Mann Inactive

    May 27, 2012
    Enough gain and/or EQ will do the trick.
  7. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I was encouraged to play fingerstyle, and I'm glad I went that way, but I have kinda fleshy fingertips and really dig the sound of a pick, especially for rock. (I play pickstyle on some songs, but prefer fingerstyle.)

    What I do from time to time is set my bass with low-ish action, so that the strings slap the fretboard when I dig in. That gives a nice chimey attack. A radical example would be John Entwistle's "typewriter" technique, where he used his fingers to tap down on the strings rather than plucking them perpendicular to the bass. I don't "type", I still pluck, but with more downward motion (toward the bass). Either way, the end result is not quite pickstyle, but still gives a nice quick attack.

    Interestingly, this young man demonstrates the typewriter technique very well! I believe Ox also "typed" over the end of the fingerboard. The fun starts about halfway in.
  8. makanudo


    Dec 26, 2008
    Boost the High mids, smack the [email protected] out of the strings against the fingerboard. Add some drive and enjoy.
  9. a lot of times playing with a pick sounds better on a recording. you might play fingerstyle live but do your studio tracking with a pick for the clean, clear attack. nothing wrong that. luckily P basses sound just as good with a pick as with fingers!
  10. deste


    Sep 14, 2009
    Bologna, Italy, Europe
    Endorsing Artist: GullanskyLab pickups
    ...and... some more right hand technique?...
  11. bigswifty1


    Dec 8, 2011
    You can try varying the position of your plucking hand. Plucking closer to the bridge can brighten up a dull sound that's not cutting.

  12. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    I find that a very thick smooth plastic pick(i favor Dunlop Derlin 1.5mm and up for this) played without too much strength achieves a similar sound than fingerpicked (keyword being similar though).

    Personally, when i started all my favorite bassists used picks and this is the sound i still favor today. I can play with fingers (though not as well) but i never do really. I play hybrid anyway, like if i want slaps or "soft" chords i'll use my lower fingers with the pick.
  13. Sparkdog


    Sep 18, 2006
    Burbank, CA
    Might be cliche to say, but the way you touch the strings has a huge impact on the tone you can produce.

    Try plucking with the lightest possible touch and see how it sounds. Then dig in will hear a big difference, not just in volume but also in tonal character.

    My touch has gotten a lot lighter over the years and I think it has improved my tone as well. That's not necessarily what YOU are going for, but the point is to experiment with it.
  14. It also just might be your ears....I play a Fender P-Bass with old flats and the tone knob all the way off most of the time and to me that tone sounds warm and fat recorded and live but not dull at all....However to you it might sound dull and lifeless. Maybe you just prefer the brighter pick could try using a felt pick. I've heard it gives a nice warm finger sound with but with a little more definition.
  15. Sonicfrog

    Sonicfrog Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    Fresno, CA
    That, and....

    Instead of using the 1st and 2nd fingers to pluck, try using the 1st and 3rd fingers. The are closer to the same length, which not only produces a more even plucking tone between the two fingers, but you hand will automatically change position, which might give you a sharper attack.

    Another Mike. :bassist:
  16. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    How much do you play? If my calluses soften up on my right hand, my fingerstyle doesn't sound right. It takes lots of regular playing for my fingers to be tough enough to sound right to e.
  17. Typically you can get a better sound out of fingerpicking if you put your fingers on top of the strings and push them down onto the body until your finger slides off of the string.
  18. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    Horses for courses, I guess. That is exactly the fingerstyle technique and tone I try to avoid. It works for some, but not for me.
  19. I try to be a mostly finger player.....what works for me is low action, really bright strings, i don't know if it's the type writer style or not, but i tend to bounce the strings off the frets when I play.And gain boosted to just a hint of overdrive/ bite
  20. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    My experience as well.

    Again, I was exclusively fingerstyle for decades. When I first started adding pickstyle to my repertoire I got some thick picks (over 1mm) because I figured that's what bass players should use -- however they didn't give the attack I wanted. So now I use thinner picks -- currently Dunlop Ultex 0.73 -- precisely because I want pickstyle to sound like pickstyle, not fingerstyle.

    Ultex seems slightly stiffer and brighter than Tortex when gauge is equal, but I am not 100% certain of that.