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First gig using a pick

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by RichardW, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. RichardW


    Feb 25, 2016
    near Philly
    Have a gig this weekend--playing at my 40th high school class reunion--and we're closing with Dancing With Myself by Billy Idol (on which I'm also singing lead). The bass line is easy, but relentlessly fast (for me). In rehearsal, I've been having a hard time keeping the pace picking with my fingers, so after last week's run through I finally said to myself: "I gotta play this song with a pick."

    Spent a week playing using the pick (large Fender medium gauge) and final rehearsal last night. I was able to keep the pace and the sound is amazing. Tremendous attack and really helps with the tone cutting through the mix. I'm playing a P with flat wounds.

    Been telling myself for years that it would be too complicated to learn how to use a pick, but now I'm thinking I'm going to try to expand my pick usage. We've got a bunch of other tunes in the set that will benefit. I'm still learning and it's going to take a while before I feel totally comfortable, especially with crossing multiple strings between notes.

    Still, I'm kinda psyched about the whole thing. I think it's going to open up a lot of sonic possibilities.
  2. nolezmaj

    nolezmaj Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2011
    Great, glad you liked it!
    I used to be fingerpickin' diehard fan, but was asked to play a promo tour for artist with great rock album. Producer insisted I play with pick on couple of songs, to nail what he recorded in studio. At first, I was pissed, but decided to give it a try, and honestly loved the result
    Pick truly brings something unique to the bass guitat sound.
  3. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    Welcome to the dark side!
    I started playing with my fingers, and glad I did for technique reasons, but after a couple years discovered what clarity and attack picking brought to the sonic table, while still maintaining that round bass tone.
    Ever since, I alternate depending on what I feel the song or style calls for - most rock songs will be with a pick, Reggae definitely finger style, etc.
    I think being loyal to one or the other is silly, it's just another "paintbrush" to create the right sound for a song.
    Glad you gave it a shot!
  4. ^^^
    Wot he said : )
    I came from Guitar to Bass and so concentrated hard on Fingerstyle to get a handle on it and develop feel. Then I was asked to play in a thrown together cover band with some good players - 20 songsthree "rehearsals" in two weeks and hit the stage. The first to outline what songs we'd do, the second to put them together and see what worked best, the third for "final fit" - I'd never done it that way so was well out of my comfort zone and then someone said " hey we got some nice feels here, how about "Master Blaster". Well - there was no way I could do it other than a pic : )

    Felt I'd let myself down a bit so now I'll do my best to learn fast passages fingerstyle to slowly improve that skill but will go to a pick if I can't hack it or the song needs the attack of a pick. It does open up a different sound to explore and it's a very useful tool in your skillset.

    Try to keep your wrist relaxed, you'll develop the muscle memory for your string spacing - just do a bit of picking every time
    you rehearse.

    Cheers Maurie.
  5. Medford Bassman

    Medford Bassman Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2007
    Medford, Wisconsin
    Played finger style for 40 years. Occasionally used pick. Always cramped my hand. Recently I made a conscious effort to do pick. So far so good. On some songs the attack is what makes it. IMO
  6. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Keep plenty of picks on hand within easy reach, so you can drop it if it feels uncomfortable, and then you can grab another.
  7. GK Growl

    GK Growl

    Dec 31, 2011
    I dunno if I can call anyone that uses a pick on bass a bassist....I think I'd have to call them a smart bassist. Sometimes, a pick is exactly what is needed to get a specific tone or feel. It's good to have the right tools for the right job.
  8. bassplayer2014


    Jun 7, 2014
    Right on! I experienced a similar result too. Now I try a song with and without a pick and then determine which sounds better.
    Michael Schreiber likes this.
  9. FugaziBomb


    Jun 5, 2017
    I've used picks various times when recording to get certain tones. Pick + P Bass + SVT is a classic combo that just works really well in a rock mix. I tend to stay away from playing with picks live as I already dial in a fair amount of treble for finger-work and pick will likely take that into uncontrolled territory.
  10. packhowitzer

    packhowitzer 155mm of pure destruction

    Apr 20, 2011
    I just use whatever method serves the song best and lets me play the most efficiently. Plucking, picking, thumbing, whatever.
  11. I taught myself to play with both but I find that for most of the music I play I prefer the tone of a pic.
    Also I am usually the lead singer in any band I play in and I find that it's far easier to play and sing using a pick. I use fingers if the tone requires it or for any song requiring slap/pop.
  12. BusyFingers


    Nov 26, 2016
    Check Carol Kayes advice for playing with a pick. Picking can cause trouble for your hand/wrist if done enough with the wrong approach.
  13. glad you found your way with a pick, try roundwounds and you'll be amazed at what tonal diversity you can achieve with your bare hands.
  14. Try the pick with a bright nickel roundwound like dunlop superbrights or DR sunbeams with the tone knob medium open to close and a light od.
    two fingers likes this.
  15. slagheap

    slagheap Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2011
    el jeffe bass likes this.
  16. basslust

    basslust Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2011
    I agree. I've tried playing other ways (roundwounds, thinner picks, all downstrokes, etc.) and it is hell on the forearms and wrists. You've already got the flats on there. The rest of the picture is really just using a thick pick and alternate picking, making sure the wrist stays flat (parallel to the bass) and all the plucking movement comes from side-to-side movement of the wrist (hand / fingers stay locked).
  17. Mr. Sound

    Mr. Sound Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2009
    I'm the opposite... always used a plectrum..forced myself to learn fingees...now have a totally split personality!
    One word of advice...get a mic stand pick holder and a gizillion picks...they are sentient beings that actively escape your hands..and run away never to be seen again!
  18. biguglyman


    Jul 27, 2017
    Rochester, NY
    Started out playing bass with just picks. After several years I realized I was missing out on some sonic diversity. I would use a felt pick to try and get that softer finger type attack. Finally forced myself to learn finger style. Now I generally go fingers for everything unless the specific song calls for a pick. I'm making myself use just a pick on the new Beatle bass to try and remain faithful to the roots.
    Mr. Sound likes this.
  19. I'm a pick player about 90% of the time these days. I've forced myself over the last year or so to use my fingers more and I don't mind it for ballads and some slow country stuff, but for most songs I just prefer the attack and the way it comes through in the mix when used with flats.
    Michael Schreiber likes this.
  20. MCF


    Sep 1, 2014
    I'm working on pick technique too. For me, the Herco thumb style picks are the most comfortable. I'm pretty fast finger style, but a lot of what I like was recorded with bassists who used picks. The adjustment has been pretty slow; probably because I am not disciplined enough to spend the time it takes to learn the technique.