Pick Or Finger

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SlapPopBass, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. Is it absolutely necessary to learn pick style? Is it acceptable that I play all my songs with fingerstyle despite some songs advice the usage of picks?
  2. temmrich

    temmrich Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2012
    Dayton, Ohio
    Why limit yourself? Learn all styles and if you find that a song that advises the use of a pick sounds better fingerstyle, at least you know you tried it with a pick. Works the other way round too. Using a pick isn't too difficult if you practice with it.
    I've found (after 15 years of being anti-pick) that my p-bass with flats and some palm muting sounds really killer with a pick and it's helped me become more creative with some lines as the pick lends itself to a different phrasing style.
    Learn it, don't learn it, whatever.
  3. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    No no no, you only have to play the bass with your teeth!
  4. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    I would advise learning both. The question would be kind of like a painter asking, "Do I really need to use blue paint?"

    Picks and fingers just give you different sounds, and it's a good thing to be able to produce different sounds when you are aiming to play with lots of different people.

    Can one make fingers sound like a pick, and vice versa? Maybe close enough to get by, in some situations. And sometimes you don't even need to try to copy a certain sound. (Listeners wouldn't notice.) But why not strive to learn both, just to be a better bass player?
  5. I would say learn both, because it is good to be an alround bass player.
    Also, if you want to be on demand to play session work etc, it may help you get work if they want a pick sound and you can play it.

    That being said, I only play fingers. If you get your technique down you can play all the same things, even the really fast stuff with just fingers. But, you do get a different sound with a pick.
  6. TeeZeeMee90


    Jan 22, 2013
    North AL

    Seriously, having two guns is more fun than 1. Dont limit yourself
  7. dtripoli


    Aug 15, 2010
    Pick or finger, pick, finger...... Noooooooo.....help I'm stuck in Ground Hog day
  8. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    The more techniques you know, the more sounds you can produce.

    But you can get by with just pick or just fingers.
  9. tdub0199


    Mar 4, 2010
    Atlanta, Ga.
    learn to play both ways.....
  10. NCD


    Mar 19, 2011
    I used to think that having a pick in my hand would hamper my ability to do all the other techniques. I never thought that picks were bad, just that if I had one in my hand then my hand would be "full" with the pick, keeping me from doing other things.

    Then I saw Mario Cipollina use a thumb pick that he could swivel up and out of the way whenever he wanted to, plus it appears to be deep enough on the thumb that it wouldn't prevent slapping or double thumping.

    Imagine being able to use a pick without it limiting you, or having to hold it in your teeth when you switch techniques in mid-song... like he does in this bass solo:

  11. NCD


    Mar 19, 2011
    Post Script... I went and got a few thumb picks today. After only an hour I can flip it out of the way easily and without much of a pause (probably one quarter note), though flipping it back into the same spot on my thumb will take a little practice. It keeps wanting to end up deeper on the thumb than it started.

    If you try one, don't try to spin it around the thumb. Instead, just pull the point with your middle finger so the point ends up covered by the middle of your thumb then pushon the curved part with your index finger to flip the point out. That description will probably make more sense when you try it. Also, I'm placing it half on / just past the knuckle toward the tip, not on the thumb tip.

    This way I can have a pick without it getting in the way of other techniques. I'm greedy like that. I want it all.
  12. BboogieXVII


    Feb 4, 2013
    Cool solo bit!

    And I agree with some others here, it's not really either one or the other; you can do both.
  13. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You can do whatever you want to.
  14. I would say the music comes first, the technique comes second. If you want to make it sound good (or better than good), if the music asks for a pick then use a pick. It's true that you can play it either way, but it's also true that there is a lot of boring non-interesting music out there (not having a picked bass possibly being one of the reasons why :) ). Personally I don't see why people are getting so worked up about using a pick. Don't violin players use arcos? Don't orchestra upright bass players use arcos? Don't electric guitarists (except for Mark Knopfler) use picks? Just buy a pick and get with the program :)
  15. FrednBass


    Feb 24, 2012
  17. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA

    Aaaaaaaaaaaand bingo was his name. O.
  18. Geroi Asfalta

    Geroi Asfalta

    Aug 23, 2011
    I play my extra sort scale 6 string piccolo bass with a pick :bag:

  19. +1 I'm a fingerstyle player 99% of the time, but having the pick sound in your sonic toolbox only makes you more versatile. I even took it one step further and got a wild hair a while back and did a pick shootout. Wood picks, rubber picks, felt picks, a brass pick, regular picks of all sorts of different weights.... :bassist:


  20. Ditto. There was one band I was in that did Americana-type music. I played with a pick 75% of the time in that band since it just sounded right. Otherwise, I use a pick about 5% of the time.

    The other thing about using a pick is that the basic movements of using a pick is the same as part of double thumbing.

    BTW, I like the Dunlop Big Stubby 2.0mm and the 2.0mm Gator Grip. Felt picks on flatwounds give a very 'old school' sound, too.