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Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Stingray, Sep 18, 2000.

  1. Stingray


    May 12, 2000

    and you should use what feels right to you... it´s more melodic usually when using fingers and more chrunchy when using a pick.

    it all depends on what you´re playing...

    btw: it´s really boring to read something that is ALL CAPS... unless the person is yelling...
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    You should try to use both techniques because eventually you gonna need one or the other in a musical situation...
    Fingerstyle is usually considered as 'the thing to do' but you should be able to use both techniques...

    BTW: Using capitals is the equivalent to screaming and most people don't like it in forums!
  4. Stingray


    May 12, 2000
    sorry for the all caps mythe computer i use is constantly on caps lock so i get annoyedand just leave it on
  5. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    My advice: work on MUSIC first and then deal with fingerstyle. There is NO shame in playing all pick -- ask Carol Kaye. Sure, more bassists play fingerstyle, but that doesn't mean it's the BEST way -- just the most popular.

    There are a few sounds that are difficult to achieve with a pick, but it's possible to live a full, healthy life without being able to produce them. (There are plenty of successful bassists who don't slap, for example.)

    I, too, play mostly fingerstyle. But there are some songs on which the pick makes more sense. I will say that it's nice to have the option.

  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    What are the advantages? Well I think that using your fingers and thumb gives you a lot more versatility and the ability to change "sounds" mid-song several times if needs be. Using your thumb gives a much more rounded sound to plucking and gets close to an upright bass sound - especially if you mute with your palm at the same time.

    But then you can also slap with your thumb and get great percussive sounds. Even if you don't like slap/pop, the "pop" part can be thrown into lines to change the tone to a more aggressive sound at any time you like - say in a solo that starts smooth and moves to a sound where you're really pulling under the strings and letting them slap back on the fretboard.

    I also find artifical harmonics and natural harmonics are much easier fingerstyle and this also allows more variety. Play a root or low fretted note with your thumb and at the same time play natural hamronics with your finger for a huge ringing chord - or artificial harmonics mixed with fretted notes - all of these chordal techniques are virtually impossible when using a pick. Double stops with wide spacing across the fretboard are also possible and you can play arpeggios and broken chords with multiple fingers.

    I also find that (especially with multi-stringed basses)you can use your right hand for muting with fingerstyle, in a way that you can't when using a pick. Fast muting and releasing can get you a distinctive sound that you can't really get with a pick and another variety that works especially well with funky lines - 16ths etc.

    I could go on, but I think there are huge advantages to playing fingerstyle and limiting yourself to just a pick is something that I would now never consider nowadays and would feel extremely restricted by this, although I have done this in "post-punk" bands in the 80s.
  7. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    WInter Garden, FL
    I agree with Bruce, ditch the pick. I can get any tone a pick would get from my fingers and a bit of experimenting with where I'm plucking on the string. In addition, there are TONS of other tones the fingers bring to the equation that the pick CAN'T do. Also, once you get comfortable with using your fingers, you will be able to play much quicker/faster than is possible with a pick (if that sort of thing matters to you).

    Even as a former guitarist, I gave up the pick. Found I could do anything on the guitar better with my fingers than with the pick, and it was more flexible. Just ask Mark Knopfler and Jeff Beck.

    All that said, yes, there have been some great bassists (Carol Kaye, for example) that were pick players. So if you're dead set on the pick, just make the most out of it that you can. Be aware though, CK had to modify her basses to get a good round thick tone from them with the pick (piece of foam at the bridge to reduce clicking and higher overtones that the pick produces).

    [Edited by Gard on 09-29-2000 at 11:38 AM]
  8. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    If I HAD to choose one or the other, I would probably choose to be a strictly fingerstyle bassist.

  9. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    I'll go along with Bruce on this. But if you are only playing ONE type of music....and do not need, or aspire to go beyond it...then a pick is fine. :)
  10. Zjarrett


    Sep 17, 2000
    generally I bias pick players as the band member who sucked at guitar and the band needed a bass player so.....the 3 note guys ala blink 182. Then i realized holy crap! the guy from greenday uses a pick and is really fun. I'm not a musical genius(yet) but this guy mike is just creative and talented, check out the song 'when i come around' or really anything they do...just proves not all pick players are bad
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I don't think there is any doubt about this, but this wasn't the question asked. The original poster wanted to know what the advantages of playing fingerstyle are - presumably he already knows about pick players, but he wanted to hear what you could do with fingerstyle that you can't just with a pick.

    I believe that there are many advantages - but this doesn't mean that you have to do it and it also doesn't mean that we have to come to a fight between the two - the topic isn't about advantages of using a pick or who can play with just a pick, but what "Stingray" or other people in the same situation, could gain from taking up fingerstyle as well as just using a pick.
  12. It sounds like everything has been said on this topic, but just to add to the point that it's easier to imitate a pick attack by adjusting your bass tones than it is to imitate finger-plucking with a pick. I haven't been able to get the softness of the finger attack with a pick.

    So I'd agree with most people that if you're starting out, learn finger-plucking first, unless you're already fluent with a pick. But even if you are, it's a big advantage to know both.
  13. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    one technique that i have heard of to imitate fingerstyle with a pick is to use a pick made of felt. i never have tried this - i unfortunately can't play with a pick to save my life - but i have heard that some of the pick playing greats of yester-year have used this technique with great success.
  14. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    One thing you should keep in mind is that when playing with a pick, you're playing a string instrument. When playing finger style, you're playing a percussion instrument...a definition I learned while playing Jazz several years back.

    Anyway, many players feel that playing fingerstyle is more versatile, while others feel that playing with a pick provides a little more bite in the attack of a note.

    There's nothing that says playing both ways is bad, either...Just make sure you're playing on the playing field if you're playing both ways...others will interpret that somehow...
  15. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Interesting point about the felt pick. It can help a pick-style ex-g*******t to get tones the rest of the band wants while still learning the finger style.

    I just finished recording one song for my band in which I always play pick onstage, but the bandleader wanted the drive but a softer tone. He handed me a felt pick, and BINGO. Worked out perfectly.


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