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Hard Rock - picking with fingers?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Misterwogan, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. I'm thinking about hard rock songs that were played by the original bassist using a pick - Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy for example.

    I'm quite happy playing this stuff with a pick but I'd like the option to explore the tonal options using my fingers.

    So far, what I've played using fingers has not worked at all - the music just doesn't work without the hard attack and high frequencies that the pick produces. It's seems that the bass is used in these songs as a third harmonising guitar, in a lot of cases playing exactly the same riffs.

    My bass is a Fender Am Deluxe Precision, so I have the option of the bridge pickup. I could play on the bridge pup, switch to active and max the treble control.

    Is this a good approach?
    Or should I just stick to the pick for my Lizzy covers?
  2. DerTeufel

    DerTeufel Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2011
    Wildomar, CA
    I say use what you are comfortable with.

    I am a fingerstyle player, but I have a hard attack (think Geezer Butler) where my fingers essentially "slap" the strings

    Playing around with your EQ as well as your pickup choice can help too.
  3. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    I don't use a pick a lot but for those recordings we cover that I know the bassist was using a pick, I use a pick. I think using the bridge pickup only would give you a real mid-range tone like Jaco and might not fit the style of the song. But experiment away. Maybe you'll find the right tweaks. For me it's just easier to grab a pick.

    But what do I know? I'm only the bass player. ;)

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  4. philvanv

    philvanv Gerbil Turds, Kitsap County Turd Core

    Jul 2, 2012
    and at the bottom it says thank you, and now you can shag off
    I play hard fast w fingers only. Over the yrs. I have gone to super lite gauge strings between my 80's Guild Pilot and currently my insainly thoundarus Gamma Alpha P. No picks needed...i forget what i am using rite now Cleartone or D'Addario steel something. I love the Cleartone but nobody sells yhem where I live....
  5. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I find that the attack of a pick near the bridge and near the neck are nice variations to the pads of the fingers or the tips with a bit of nail in either location, as well as the side of the thumb near the neck if you really want to get wooly. If I don't care I'll use whichever, but if I'm feeling lazy I'll usually use a pick. Of all the things to worry about with playing, using a pick or my fingers concerns me not at all.
  6. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Hard Rock - picking with fingers?

    Geddy Lee
  7. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009

    For me it's all about what fits the music. If you need the hard attack of a pick you use a pick. On the other hand if you want to develop your own fingerstyle as an alternative then that's OK too, but "develop" means you have to try a lot of things until you discover the combination that to your ears "works".

    So you simply have to try things until you find what you are looking to hear. Pickup choice, strings, amp settings, effects, EQ, etc. and most important of all HOW you use your fingers to play! (It's all in the fingers I heard) You simply try it all until you say, THERE IT IS!

    Everybody is different so we can maybe give a few hints but really YOU have to decide what you think works.
  8. Apolicious


    Jan 16, 2014
    *cough*John Paul Jones*cough*
  9. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    So much depends on where you play with your fingers that determines the tone you get, let alone if you have two pickups and can opt for only one or the other. You can play with your fingers up at the end of the fingerboard and get that Geezer Butler slapping twangy sound, or play close to the bridge for a more biting trebly tone ala Geddy Lee. All in all, I don't you have to play with a pick to get a good Phil Lynotte-ish sound.
  10. Joe Milstein

    Joe Milstein Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2007
    Central New Jersey
    Gamma Bass Guitars

    Thanks Phil!


  11. billgwx


    Apr 10, 2009
    Centereach NY
    IMO it's pretty simple. If playing finger style with a strong attack doesn't get me in the ballpark or gets me tied up in knots, then I use a pick. For example--not that they're hard rock--some Beatles songs are actually easier to play and sound a whole lot better using a pick. "Rain" is the perfect example.
  12. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    I just grow a little (a very little) extra nail on my index and middle fingers and use them for a little edge. But, they are short enough that I can use my pads anytime I want.