Fingerstyle sounds terrible after playing with a pick!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by taylor16, Dec 29, 2014.

  1. taylor16


    Dec 25, 2012
    Sedona, AZ
    I've been forcing myself to learn to play with a pick the last few weeks and have really come to like the tone and attack of the pick sound. Sounds great with overdrive as well. Problem is that going back to fingerstyle sounds lifeless and dull. Fortunately, I have set up my pedals and preamp such that my attack is just sharp enough on my Precision basses with the tone rolled down halfway leaving me to crank the tone knob all the way up for playing with my fingers. Anyone else come across this? Am I the only one? And I used to be one of those snobs who looked down on pick players!
  2. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    Jim Nazium, esa372 and Capt.Obvious like this.
  3. FA108208usat2

    FA108208usat2 Guest

    Mar 24, 2014
    I personally prefer the fingerstyle tone they sound more punchy and connected, but pick got a special tone that is needed in some songs, If these technique were weapons I'll say fingerstyle is a hammer and a pick is a sword, and I like punchy tone rather than a sharp tone.
    pacojas and Capt.Obvious like this.
  4. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
  5. SamJ

    SamJ Founder - Fender MIA Club

    Apr 22, 2006
    SFO / HNL
    we clearly have a very different idea of what "Sounds" good and what doesn't... but glad you found your new tone!
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  6. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    If your fingerstyle sound is dull and lifeless maybe you should force yourself to practice that technique a bit more. You know there are many fingerstyle players out there who are nothing like dull and lifeless. ;)

    Seriously though; pick, fingers, thumb, bow, funk fingers, ebow ... different techniques, for different sounds, for different songs. Use whatever suits your taste and your music.
  7. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    Hey--everybody is entitled to their own opinion--even if they're wrong...

    Which is a serious statement overall, but a tongue in cheek one here.

    Play with fingers, thumb, picks of whatever material, etc, etc--or all of the above--that's part of what makes music interesting--when people go & do it their way.
    maverick49 and Capt.Obvious like this.
  8. +1,000 I happen to like thumb, but, there is a place for all methods. We should not become one trick ponies.
  9. Big Hoss

    Big Hoss Up note, down note, blue note, brown note...

    Pick, fingerstyle, etc... have their own unique sounds, master them to the best of your ability. if your fingerstyle sounds dead, work on it, if you can't get it yourself, get a teacher to help you figure out where your technique needs to be fixed...
    Cyanide and Capt.Obvious like this.
  10. The thing is that pick playing produces a sound with less lows and more mids and highs than finger playing.
    The tone knob acts as a low pass filter : it cuts every frequencency above your setting point.
    So if you just open more your tone knob while switching from pick to fingers, you will not get the same kind of tightness in your lows. Your sound will be way bassier than with the pick, which can give you this sensation of lacking clarity.
    If you have an eq pedal, you can set it with some cut in the lows and a boost in the mids. When you'll engage it when playing fingers you may hear a tone that you like better.
    hieronymous likes this.
  11. bass_case

    bass_case Maintain low tones. Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2013
    Miami, FL
    The attack produced by pick and fingerstyle playing are physically much different. Naturally they are going to sound different.

    Never had much use for passive tone controls, have normally left them wide open.

    I play fingerstyle only, but have no disdain for picking. My fingers just seem to reject picks like foreign objects. Even on guitar, I usually end up playing with my fingers or nails.
    pacojas likes this.
  12. tedious1


    Feb 14, 2014
    Right, this was what I was waiting for, license to invent hack-saw bowing technique.

    @Capt.Obvious that seems to be a natural progression for .44 Mag slide bass, no?
    SherpaKahn likes this.
  13. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Pfft, real men use a gas powered circular saw.
  14. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    The following is Wojtek Pilichowski (the slap-machine) Band's video.
    Wojtek starts playing fingerstyle. Nothing new. I'm expecting for him to embark on his regular SlapMachine, but...
    Suddenly, at 0:44 he grabs a PICK (?!!) and starts playing with the PICK(?!!).
    And the bass sounds SO SOLIDLY-GOOD!

    P.S. Anyway, Wojtek, shame on you playing with the pick.
    (I've just needed to say something SMART)
  15. tedious1


    Feb 14, 2014
    I tried, I really did, but any horn mute that gives the exhaust good tone tends to choke the engine into stalling...
    FretNoMore likes this.
  16. 29A


    Aug 25, 2014
    Seattle, WA
    I've been having this "problem" too. I haven't been playing all that long, having spent my first 30 years on drums, and started with a pick - because that's a technique I came to prefer from a drummer's perspective.

    But lately I've been playing with my fingers more cos I like the closer connectedness, and it seems easier to tease out more nuance, but obviously doesn't have the same bite. A work in progress, right?

    Fact is that I like both methods for what they each offer, and there's never been a shortage of impressive players using either, so I still can't quite get my head around the controversy.

    I plan to master both cos I feel like both have their rightful place.
  17. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    Truthfully, I'm scared to try a pick with flats. I'm afraid that im going to like it. A lot.
  18. Bleh, everyone says the same thing.

    Do what sounds best to you! I play with every tool in the bag. Personal preference. Yadda yadda blah blah.

    Part of me doesn't mind encouraging other bass players to continue picking and only picking, but another part of me wants to help them.

    Let's be honest. Picking the bass is limiting your sound possibilities, plain and simple. The pick restricts your tone and sounds primitive, like a harpsichord. Sure, you can pluck the strings hard or softly unlike a harpsichord, but in the end, that's pretty much the only tone options you'll have. It's a keyboard bass harpsichord sound in my ears.

    Can't play simultaneous double stops with a pick either without strumming.

    In the end, it really is about personal choice and what you want your tone to be, that's the beauty of the idividualism of music, but the individualist contrarian in me had to say that much. :thumbsup:
  19. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    What can anybody tell you? Tastes change, perceptions change, musical applications change. Odds are, your perception of fingerstyle tone will change back again, sooner or later. It's just one of the many factors that makes music so fascinating in the first place.

    Personally, I dig both tones & timbres, and have used each of them at various times, for various purposes. I started off playing fingerstyle right from the start, since I already knew that I wanted to master this quintessential technique for capturing the quintessential tones of the electric bass. As I became proficient with fingerstyle, I began to work pickstyle into my repertoire, which was straightforward, since I'd played guitar previously.

    A couple years later, working with a couple of other guys in the creation of some original material, I decided to switch over from pickstyle back to fingerstyle for a couple of the tunes - thereby prompting the guitarist to remark with surprise and approval that I had just "learned" to play fingerstyle as well (which he apparently had not expected, as I had not seen fit to pull it out of my bag of tricks until that moment). Go figure.

    IMO, while there may be nothing else quite like the smooth, round, thumpy sound & feel of a well-worn set of heavy-gauge flatwounds on a Fender Precision Bass, there's also nothing quite like the crisp, brilliant, sparkling sound & feel of a fresh set of light-gauge Rotosounds on a Rickenbacker 4001. I've owned both, used both, and thoroughly enjoyed both - each one in its own way, and for its own musical application and purpose.