pick player going all fingerstyle--did it make you better?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by kkaarrll, May 23, 2018.

  1. kkaarrll


    Jun 1, 2014
    for you people that started by playing pick (not that there is anything wrong with it)

    when you started learning how to fingerstyle

    did you become a better player?

    I have

    it just forces me more into the bass player role, and not playing too many notes


    talk amongst yourselves
  2. biguglyman


    Jul 27, 2017
    Rochester, NY
    I use both. Depends on the song. Personally, I find it easier to sing when I'm playing fingerstyle.
    taught and soulman969 like this.
  3. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    I think it did, but I also think that there were a few other factors as well.

    When I started playing, I used fingers for a while, but soon started using a pick because a. my fingers hurt, and b. I couldn't play fast enough with my fingers. I instinctively reached for a pick every time I picked a bass up for more than 15 years. Nothing wrong with that, and had no complaints from any of the bands I played in.

    Started playing guitar a bit more seriously, and started learning a bit more theory, as well as working with a few different bass players. Still played bass for recording song demo's at home. One of the bassists I worked with had a great sound, and was a finger player, which made me realize that most of my favourite players were also fingerstyle people. I decided to ditch the pick, and completely re-learn how to play bass (especially after that band folded). Tried numerous techniques, watched video's of how some of my favourite players played, took mental notes and worked on my style.

    All that work has paid off IMO, quite happy with my sound & technique (though I still think I should be better than I am! :D ), and don't get any complaints from the band. Playing with other good musicians helps, and having some theory knowledge certainly helps when writing bass-lines (especially on original songs). It's still hard work, but enjoyable work.
  4. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    The key here is the part about it "forcing you more into the bass player role, and not playing too many notes." It wasn't really learning fingerstyle per se that made you better; that just helped because it forced you out of your comfort zone and made you stop treating the bass as if it were just a big guitar. I'll bet that if you had always played guitar fingerstyle, you would have had the same problem when you switched to bass -- it's entirely possible to play too many notes fingerstyle, too! -- and then learning to play with a pick would've had the same effect.

    Now that you've learned that lesson, there's no need to ditch the pick entirely; in fact, it might be really helpful now to work on playing the way you've now learned to play -- "more in the bass player role, and not playing too many notes" -- while using a pick, as well as working on how to play faster ("too many notes," so to speak) with your fingers. The ideal (IMO) is to be able to play equally well, in any style, with or without a pick. Doing this will also help you develop a sense for which songs or parts are better suited for pickstyle and which fingerstyle.
    IamGroot, BassPilot and kkaarrll like this.
  5. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I go in fits, trending towards one or the other, though lately it's just been pick on my Ric. Some basses just sound better than others with a given technique, a Ric sound best picked IMO, a Jazz better with fingers. YMMV, the important thing is to have both skills under your belt to a reasonable level, the occasional fingerstyle snobbery over pick that surfaces among bass players is laughably stupid.
  6. kkaarrll


    Jun 1, 2014
    that part is hard

    I pick up a pick and my hands and brain turn back into ynguie malmsteen mode

    working on it though
    Lobster11 likes this.
  7. kkaarrll


    Jun 1, 2014

    I didn't mean to imply that either way

    for me, I can easily do the right hand with a pick, string skipping, etc

    and yes, I still play acdc with a pick--that's the one where I can keep the pick chilled out
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  8. soulman969

    soulman969 Inactive

    Oct 6, 2011
    Englewood, Colorado
    Playing both ways didn't make me better just more versatile. Certain genre and even certain tunes tend to work better one way than another so based on that, the bass I'm playing, and the music I go back and forth between pick and fingerstyle as I believe every bassist should be able to do.
    IamGroot and Gilmourisgod like this.
  9. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Well, there's a place for playing bass like that in some styles of music, so by all means keep that skill around. But yes, you should work on being able to not do it when appropriate.

    I think the way I would practice this would be to play through a song that you've learned to play fingerstyle ("like a bass player"), and then play it again -- exactly the same notes -- using a pick. Not sayin' it's gonna be easy, but that's how I'd do it.
    IamGroot and kkaarrll like this.
  10. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    I do't know if switching to pick or from pick to finger can make a person a better player. It just gives players more tools to work with. But overall, the ability to finger pick opens up a lot of technique and requires a different set of playing skills. If a person is skilled in one, they can become as skilled using the other. Everyone has a different skill level in whatever they do.
    IamGroot likes this.
  11. kkaarrll


    Jun 1, 2014

    that's probably it

    I can sling a pick

    fingerstyle is still rudimentary---while learning it--learned how to be a better player----not because of finger/pick

    but because of not as good with fingers

    made me fit the role better

    I guess that is a better way of putting it than I did in op
  12. consectaneus


    Sep 23, 2016
    I like both, but I do have to say that the tactility of touching the strings and the way that contact translates into one's playing is something that isn't quite the same with a pick. But the pick is very satisfying to me in its own way. I like the even meter and the way the upbeat and down beat coincides with the physical action of the alternating pick stroke. But the timing thing with fingers is more organic. I can see why it is usually the go to thing for soul/blues/r&b.

    I'm conflicted, so I try to play everything I learn with fingers and pick.
    IamGroot, Lobster11 and gebass6 like this.
  13. I started playing with a pick in the late 70s and stopped except for some studio stuff around 2004-2008. It has been so long since I regularly used a pick that it feels awkward and strange just to even hold one. Sorta like trying to comb your hair with a brick. :woot:
  14. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    I don't think playing with fingers instead of a pick makes you a better player, but adds versatility to the tones you can achieve. I guess you could argue you are a better player because of it..broader horizon.

    Also i can't share the experience that playing with fingers has me playing less busy lines, probably the opposite. I can shred much better with my fingers than a pick, and the busiest bass players don't tend to be pick players.
  15. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Practice both and be able to play both well. I find switching back and forth opens up new ideas, esp. if creating new bass lines.

    I actually find i play fewer notes with a pick, but thats me.

    Jeff Beck switching from pick to fingers was inspirational.
  16. taught


    Jan 5, 2015
    I think if you learn anything new that will add to you as bass player or musician.

    I am a finger player and I find very hard and challenging to play with a pick but I also see that I miss a whole world by not knowing how to play with a pick.

    I was in a jam-band in the recent weeks where there was another bass player. Half of the songs were played by him another half by me. He is older and better player than me. Also, he plays pick and fingers flawlessly.

    I had a chance to watch him playing as I was waiting for my turn. I was blown away and I knew I have to get down these skills sometimes.

    IMHO Anything you learn adds to you a lot.
  17. kkaarrll


    Jun 1, 2014

    I agree with most everything said in all of the responses. I think learning fingerstyle has made me a better bass player---not just techinically, but the approach/mindset etc.
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