How do you get SOFT(finger)sound playing with a pick?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by JustAnewbiz, Dec 14, 2000.

  1. JustAnewbiz


    Dec 14, 2000
    I prefer the sound from playing with a finger than with a pick. But...sometimes it just looks better, especaily when you are playing rock stuffs.
    Also...i felt that it is eaiser to play a baseline that u need to switch around strings very often and fast with a pick.

    Anyone know any AMPS or EFFECTOR that can give a soft sound even when playing with a pick?
    (I ask this because i see alot of Jrock bands bassists play with a pick but they has very soft sound, like playing with fingers.)

    Thanks for answering my questions~~

  2. I think it is far more important to look to your own technique in order to control your tone, not an amp or effect.

    One of my big pet peeves when I hear people bashing the use of the pick in general, is that a lot of people seem to have this big misconception that there is only one "pick sound". The pick can produce a huge range of tones if you take the time to discover them.

    If you are looking for a warmer sound with a softer attack, start by picking quite close to the fingerboard. That will give you a much warmer sound than playing nearer the pickups or bridge. Other factors that will affect the tone are how tightly you hold the pick and what angle you strike the string with the pick. For extra warmth (as long as it's not a particularly fast passage) try holding the pick very lightly (still near the fingerboard) and let it almost "flop" through the string when picking.

    One more trick to warm up the sound is using your left hand to mute the strings. This is a bit tricky and only works for the first 3 fingers. An example might be if you were playing a note with your first finger, you can very lightly place your second finger on the string very close to the first finger. This will mute the string slightly making the tone seem a bit warmer.

    If you really want some more extra warmth, get yourself some flatwound strings. There's nothing quite like the sound of a passive Fender bass with flatwound strings and a pick. :)

    So all of these techniques were used quite extensively by the great Joe Osborn, who was great at getting a warm yet precise sounding tone.
  3. Buy one of those felt picks. I don't use a pick, but I know I've seen them somewhere. They don't have the percussive attack that using a regular pick has. If you can find them, that might be your answer.

  4. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Good advise. A couple of other things that will help are to choke up on the pick so that the meat of yer fingers brushes the strings as you play and also to pick very lightly to lessen to distinct percussive attack a pick generally gives. Listen to Steve Swallow, he's a master of getting a warm sound with the pick.
  5. kcm


    Jun 17, 2000
    Woking, Surrey.
    Quite a few years ago I was playing in a sort of prog rock band and found that I needed to play with my fingers in quieter sections of a song so I found a pick that wraps round your thumb, I think the sort of thing that a banjo player uses. So then I could change seamlessly from one style to the other. I play with my fingers only now and find that the only lack I have is in speed, but for the music I play now it is not a problem.
  6. puppet654

    puppet654 Guest

    Apr 6, 2000
    when I need to use a pick but don't want the sound, I use a really heavy pick(like 2mm), and turn my tone all the way down. It lessens the sound of the picking, while still getting the sound out.
  7. Picks made by Dunlap and Herco from nylon have a softer attack. I used these for years before i became a finger player.