fingers or pick

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by kas_su, Nov 20, 2005.

  1. kas_su


    Nov 20, 2005
    I'm new to bass playing, and i play with my fingers at the moment. I'd like to play metal, and i was just wondering, if I shold start playing with a pick or can I play metal with fingers aswell?
  2. Try both and see which you prefer. I think generally bass players who play metal use picks, but Steve Harris and Cliff Burton used their fingers, and both of them are outstanding metal bassists, if you don't already know them.
  3. kas_su


    Nov 20, 2005
  4. dangnewt

    dangnewt Veteran Dispenser Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2003
    MetroWest Boston
    Ideally, you should try to become reasonably proficient both ways. As you suspect, some metal songs sound better with a pick.

    But if picking doesn't come to you, don't sweat it. I came to the bass from guitar which I only played using a pick so you would assume I would be a better picker. But, it turns out that it took me a couple weeks to learn to use my fingers and now I can't use a pick on my bass if you paid me.

    In the end, do what feels and sounds best to you and you'll be fine.
  5. NKVD


    Nov 22, 2005
    ok i have a added question:

    what is the correct way to play with a pick when standing and doing up strokes? (and down stokes too) any images would be much appreseated also.

    thanks :help:
  6. The pick should be more or less parallel to the strings, other than that, I don't think there is a correct way to stroke the strings or hold the pick, I think it comes down to whatever feels natural/relaxed.
  7. NKVD


    Nov 22, 2005
    yea i'd worked that out ;)
    well i have found two ways to do the up stoke, one by rolling my arm on my picking hand to the left (right for right handers) on do i keep eveything stiff and just rase my whole arm. so which is the correct way? (or any other).

  8. I don't really move my arm when I pick, it's mainly in the wrist. I don't think it's efficient to employ large movements. Try playing something fast or moderately fast, lets say 16th notes at 120(or higher) with a downstroke/upstroke alteration, if you can get the notes to flow steadily and the attack sound even, I'd say you're on the right track.
  9. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Try to keep your hand relaxed, pick from the wrist, not the shoulder/elbow (you'll be less sore after a lont time), and don't tense up. If you find the muscles around the base of your thumb hurt you are holding the pick too tight. This is a common side effect of playing too hard with too light a pick. Back off the attack or get a heavier gauge pick.

    Also you will learn that pics have an entirely different range of tones than fingers, so its possible your favorite EQ settings will not work quite the same. Also moving your picking point relative to the bridge seems to have more of an effect on overall tone than it does with just your fingers.

    You shouldn't feel like you have to play with a pick regardless fo your style. Listen to Sean Malone, Alex Webster or Steve DiGiorgio. All play very complicated, very fast forms of metal with their fingers. However you might decide you prefer the sound or feel, so its worth it to at least give it a try. Above all make sure you are doing it correctly and not pushing yourself to the point of injury as you build up a new set of hand/arm/wrist muscles.
  10. NKVD


    Nov 22, 2005
    Ok thank you very much :bassist:
  11. Tired_Thumb

    Tired_Thumb Guest

    Statistically, I believe you won't find enough convincing evidence to swing either way. Alex Webster, Steve Digiorgio, and Tony Choy, all bassists with reliable speed, all use fingers, as do I (albeit without the breakneck speed [yet]). Yet, one of my favorite unknown speed/thrash metal bassists, Sergey Voskresensky, uses a pick and actually is a natural guitar player, and he's right up there in speed with the best of them, if not faster. I have to agree with somebody above me that you just have to try both and see which one works.
  12. rugrat

    rugrat Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2003
    Northwest Illinois
    The answer is "yes' :bassist:
  13. Nirvana4ever


    Aug 2, 2005
    Here's a sum up: If you play with a pick, you will get a cleaner sound. If you play with your fingers you will be able to play faster. I personally prefer to play with my fingers. I think it is better for a bassist to be able to play without a pick. But if a pick is more comfortable for you, it's okay if you play with it. Whatever is comfortable and sounds best to you. :)
  14. Erm, explain? thats bull

    You can get a cleaner sound with fingers, and you can play faster with a pick, playing with a pick gives a different sound, more attack, and is snappier, and more suited to punk and such, i used to play using fingers only, but now use a pick aswell, altho im still not as good with a pick, it juts gives a better sound for most of the music i play
  15. I'm not convinced that either one is faster. My pick speed is much faster than my finger speed, but there are guys with blazing fast finger speed, and my fingers get faster every day.

    I also don't believe that one is cleaner either. I can play cleanly with either one.
  16. MusicMan16


    Nov 27, 2005
    I find i can play faster when using a pick for some reason i usually use my fingers for blues and soft music
  17. You should definetly learn both. ;)

    I find fingers allow more dynamics and feel in your playing, but on long gigs you'll want to use a pick for sure.

    Check out these vids for some cool finger playing(Warning large download and you have to skip a few guitar bits):