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need help with picking hand

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by et0518, Feb 3, 2018.

  1. et0518


    Feb 3, 2018
    I've been playing the electric bass for about seven months and I started to use a plectrum for tonal purposes. The thing is, whenever i use a plectrum, my picking hand starts to hurt a lot (not just the hand but the whole arm), and my pick keeps making these irritating clacking noise that's louder than my amp itself. Not only that, but when i use a pick, the pick doesn't travel across the strings smoothly and it keeps grinding against the strings. I've tried adjusting my strap height, changing the angle of my pick, and moving my picking hand in different ways. Is there anything i can do to make my playing sound better and less painful? Sorry if this is badly worded. All answers are appreciated.

    Also i am using Dunlop Ultex Sharp 0.90 mm picks
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Playing bass should never hurt, not even a little bit. Pain is a sign you should stop and adjust your technique.

    Who is the best pick player in your city/region? Someone with a decades-long successful career without injury. Take lessons with this person.

    If you can't find a real life teacher for whatever reason, there's lots of good educational books, DVDs, and websites out there. Here is a discussion that might help point you in the right direction: Why I keep hammering the Carol Kaye pick method
    Lobster11 and fearceol like this.
  3. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Hi and welcome to Talkbass. :)

    The "Carol Kaye Pick Method" thread posted by Mushroo, though long, is worth a read. Here is a link to Carol's site in which she goes into detail on her picking method. See tips numbers 26 and 27.

    Hope it helps.

    The Official Carol Kaye Web Site
  4. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    The "grinding against the strings" you're hearing is caused by striking the string diagonally and scraping along the length of the string rather than cleanly releasing it. This suggests that you haven't yet found the combination of right hand position and wrist motion to enable you to strike the string in a perpendicular direction. Holding the bass higher (e.g., by shortening the strap) should help with this.

    Here's a short video of one of the best pick players around (IMHO) and a good one to try to emulate. Notice that there is no movement in any part of her right arm or hand except the wrist, which "strums" the strings with an almost perfectly up-and-down motion. This is all in keeping with Carole Kaye's technique, and should allow you to play for hours with zero pain or discomfort.

    BTW, a little trick that I learned from Julie is to use one of the rounded "corners" of the pick rather than the sharp point. This won't solve your technique issues, but you might find it helpful. It made a big difference for me.
    Mushroo likes this.

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