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Pick vs Fingers Question

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by bassistofdoom, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. bassistofdoom


    Sep 1, 2012
    I do not mean to offend anyone who plays with a pick!

    I am confused. I mainly play with my fingers, and have gotten very, very good at doing fast runs for a long period of time. But I sometimes also play with a pick because I'm writing a bass and guitar song that requires the bass to have good attack and let the note ring out. This is where the, "I mean no offense to pick playing guys out there," part comes in. When I play with a pick, I kinda feel dumb and self-conscious about my playing. If I can avoid playing with a pick outside my living room, then I avoid playing with a pick.

    Don't get me wrong, there are certain times and places for picks. One of my all time favorite bassists is Jason Newsted and my second is Roger Glover from Deep Purple.

    My question is, is there anything to be feeling dumb about? I've done that on stage, I see guys walking in and I'm playing with a pick and the next song, whether it needs a pick or not, I just shred with my fingers. I don't get the feeling of needing to 'prove myself' in other areas of life, just bass playing.

    Once again, I mean no offense. :bassist:
  2. rymiraflores


    Jan 17, 2009
    Lima Peru
    Nah I think you´ve just been a bit brain-washed by the snobs who think that bass was invented for fingers. I only use a pick because I like to there is no right or wrong way to do it...just good playing or bad playing...there have been equally good bassists of both styles.
  3. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Funny thing is, many would argue that (historically speaking) it was designed for a pick.

    To the OP. Just do what feels good to you. My only advice is to stay open minded to many styles, techniques, and genres. By doing so I have continued to work steady through good times and bad. Although I have semi-retired from "pro" work, my phone rings off the hook.

    The short version is don't "pick" one style. Get better with a pick and take one or two with you to the gig. If you need one, grab one. If you don't feel like it, don't.
  4. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    Los Angeles
    It's dumb to play with a pick if you think the song would sound better with your fingers. It's dumb to play with fingers if you think it would sound better with a pick.
  5. 1954bassman


    Jun 7, 2004
    Hickory, NC
    I use a pick for the really fast stuff. (lazy, I know). I guess I just grew up playing fingerstyle. Plus I play guitar with a pick or fingerstyle. There have been monents in my playing career that i wished i would have learned to play the bass with a thumb pick and finger picks.
  6. TheAnalogKid

    TheAnalogKid Yer Doin' GREAT!!!!

    Dec 7, 2011
    Tacoma, WA
    I like to think of it this way, using the double bass analogy: You can play a double bass finger style or with a bow. Thus, a bass guitar can be played finger style or with a plectrum (pick). A DB played with a bow yields a different (or modified) sound, akin to how a BG has its "attack" when played using a plectrum.
  7. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
  8. rollin$tone

    rollin$tone Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Probably mostly depends on the bass. I play Hofners. Meant to be played with a pick. I never noticed Sir Paul looking stupid!
  9. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    I view pick technique as being equal to fingerstyle and slapping. They all produce different tones, and I try to use what the song calls for. I use picking the least of the three, but I definitely use it. Recently I was recording a part through auto-wah, and wasn't getting the wah to "bite" the way I wanted. A pick was just what the doctor ordered.
  10. LowBC

    LowBC Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2008
    Builder, chief cook and bottle washer: www.MavourneenStrings.com / store manager at Music Go Round (Denver)
    You're playing a *bass GUITAR*, right? Picks are allowed.

    Pick. Fingers. Which tool is best for the job?
  11. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    When I was a kid I lived down the street from Roger Monk who was the chief engineer at little Mountain Sound and who's engineered everything from Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, and dozens of other bands to feature films to radio jingles. He'd see me walking with my bass and give me a ride and we'd talk. One piece of advice he gave me and was really adamant about was to learn to play well with a pick. I think a lot of bass players seriously underestimate how much other people like the way a pick records.
  12. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist Bassist for Michael "Epic Mic" Rowe

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Impossible...no matter what you do, you will never look as lame as a guy playing Keytar ;)
  13. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Who decided they were meant to be played with a pick? Robbie Shakespeare and Family Man played theirs with fingers. I play my violin basses with fingers as well. The bass just sits there waiting for you to do something with it, and doesn't care what you use to play it.
  14. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    This is true. Back in the day, I would hang with Molly Hatchet, and Tom Werman was their producer, and Banner Thomas said that he was always a fingers player and Tom suggested it would be a good idea if he played with a pick. So he did, and he played on 3 platinum albums with them.
  15. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    They could be right. However, their arguement is considerably weakened when you realise that what became the "thumb" rest, was originally below the strings. The idea was to give the fingers something to grip, while you plucked with the thumb.
  16. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
    Electric bass was invented for fingerpicking, I will not allow any pick playing, tapping, slapping, popping or soloing.
  17. In my current main gig I switch between fingerstyle and pickstyle but it is mostly pickstyle. I really like playing pickstyle and with this band it definetely works better. Fun fact: When I switch to fingerstyle from pickstyle, I throw my pick at the audience. I thought this would get them excited but it hasn't worked so far :( Cool thing about it is that I have managed to find my picks on the floor every time!:hyper:
  18. Wow! This is a great thread! Doing both would be real cool, sharp attack vs warm sound. Anyone try to do both, ie. plectrum between thumb and index, last three fingers for finger picking?

    - Jimmy Rage
  19. Personally I think it depends on what your playing.

    I love fingerstyle and I love playing with a pick. Two different methods - two different sound that suit different pieces of music.

    Don't limit your arsenal - use both.
  20. Bert Slide

    Bert Slide

    May 16, 2012
    Louisville KY
    You can pick your finger but don't finger your pick! :rollno: