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Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Kipp Harrington, Sep 3, 2018.

  1. My right wrist (I am right handed) has been giving me some issues after an extended jam session (about 8-10 minutes) a little over a week ago. I have small hands and short fingers so I have to really stretch to get after that G string (no jokes, please... lol). I tried the floating thumb method and resting my thumb on the E and A strings but it has proven a bit too awkward.

    The last thing I wanted to do was use a pick. I understand a pick is necessary for some songs. However, I never pictured myself playing with a pick all the time. I tried it out for about two or three hours tonight and I was very pleased with the results. I guess playing guitar for 30+ years probably helped a bit. I think I actually play better with a pick. And no straining on my right wrist. What a relief! I am really enjoying using a pick now. So I guess you can call me a “picker”.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
  2. saabfender


    Jan 10, 2018
    Great to hear. That whole "real bass players don't use picks" thing needs to die a dusty death.
  3. I appreciate the support. By the way, are you a “picker”?
  4. saabfender


    Jan 10, 2018
    Not exclusively. I keep a pick tucked in the pickguard of the P Bass for songs that lend themselves to that but mostly a three finger player.
  5. I see. Cool. Thanks again. I need to stop worrying about what other people think about bass players who use a pick. It was almost a necessary choice for me. I’ll embrace it and carry the picker’s torch. I actually liked the punchiness of my tone. If it got a little sharp, I just rolled back the tone knob. I’m happy, and I guess that’s all that really matters. Thanks again.
    saabfender likes this.
  6. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    I have fingernails on my plucking fingers for guitar playing, so I kinda get the best of both worlds.

    Be careful not to let using a pick make you play "lead bass," since you have a guitar background.
  7. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    00 images2b3.
  8. Great point! Although there will be no danger of that. When I played guitar, I was very rhythm oriented. My solo work involved a lot of double-stops and percussive riffing. I loved soloing but I also dug locking into the groove playing the rhythm. Before I even began playing the bass I knew what my “job” was. I enjoy it so much! IMO, the bass is the most under-appreciated instrument... and I’m perfectly fine with that. I do appreciate the advice, however.
  9. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Yeah, no shame in playing with a pick. But at some point you will probably want to learn to play fingerstyle -- also, not instead -- and you'll just have to be patient because it might take awhile. I'd suggest just working on it (floating thumb) for a few minutes every day, slowly and carefully, and then feel free to do everything else with a pick. Eventually it will start to feel less awkward, and you'll gradually get the hang of it.

    BTW, you might find it interesting (and perhaps comforting) to know that for many of us who were never guitar players, and who started out playing bass fingerstyle, learning to play with a pick was every bit as awkward and difficult as you're finding fingerstyle to be!
  10. Thanks Lobster11. I think that is a good idea. I will try to dedicate at least 10-15 minutes a day to floating thumb. I think instead of actually doing the floating thumb, I will focus on moving my thumb from pickup to E string and E string to A string. That will make that stretch to the D and G strings way less stressful on my wrist. But I know that will take some getting used to. I’ve already attempted it. I will stick with it, though. Thanks for the tip!
  11. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Glad to help!

    Actually, what you're describing is called the "moveable anchor" technique, which is an equally good alternative to the "floating thumb" technique. In case you haven't already found it yourself, here's a great video (maybe "the definitive" video) about it:

    Personally, I think of the two techniques as just different variants on the same idea: i.e., moving your entire hand when you cross strings, so that your plucking motion is exactly the same no matter which string you are playing. (In contrast, anchoring your thumb in one place, like on a pickup, requires a different stretch and plucking motion depending on how far the string you are playing is from your thumb anchor.) I think I actually use both techniques at different times, depending on whether I'm playing on one particular string for awhile (in which case my thumb tends to "anchor" itself on another string) or constantly crossing strings (in which case my thumb just lies across the strings and isn't ever really anchored to any particular one.) Does that make any sense?

    Whatever you do, just keep in mind that patience is a virtue. After I started practicing with a pick for 10 minutes or so a day, it was probably a full year before I pulled one out at a band practice -- and another year before I felt (almost) as comfortable with a pick as without. Mastering a new technique takes time, so don't get discouraged if you aren't progressing as quickly as you think/feel you "should." Good luck with it!
    gebass6 likes this.
  12. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music.

    May 3, 2009
    N.E Illinois
    I'm trying to envision this......your plucking fingers can't reach from the E string to the G???
  13. They can, my wrist just becomes tender if I’m jamming for a while... like an extended jam or if I’ve been playing for a while without a break... line 90 minutes or so.

    I am now playing both with pick and fingerstyle. It’s about a 60-40 split with pick being the 60. It’s working out quite well.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
  14. Karlson541

    Karlson541 Banned

    Jun 9, 2018
    I've gone back to mostly pick playing too, as when I started out, originally coming from guitar, after some years where I had preferred finger picking.

    Different picking techniques just seems to fit certain material better than others.

    Whatever floats your boat and fits the songs you are playing.

    I personally actually prefer the increased punch and emphasis on the attack you get from pick playing too in far the most situations.
    Kipp Harrington likes this.
  15. jshinal


    May 28, 2013
    Raleigh, NC
    There is nothing wrong with playing using a pick ! Some of the most recorded bassists in popular music used picks. I began that way as I moved from guitar because I was used to flatpicks.

    It's also a helpful alternative as you are building hand strength or recovering from an injury. Fingerstyle bass does not use muscles the way we are used to in everyday life. There is a lot of stamina building to do. Don't try to go for a peak effort every day. Your muscles need to refuel and build for a day before strenuous exercise again. That's how you increase strength and stamina whether it's weightlifting or bass playing. That recovery day is important.

    I find L-glutamine nutritional supplements greatly reduce my feelings of muscle fatigue for the next exercise session, and I take them the day before and day of a gig to avoid finger fatigue. The midnight set isn't painful any more. ;)
    saabfender likes this.
  16. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    As much as I dislike playing bass with a pick, I keep picks with my gear because sometimes my hands are tired from some other activity, or I feel like I'm about to give myself a blister. Not that pick playing is easier, but it uses different muscles in different positions.
    IMO the most important thing is to not be shut down from playing because you either don't have a pick, or cannot play without one.
    jshinal and Lobster11 like this.
  17. fretter


    May 24, 2012
    In a gig situation, I would always use a pick except for songs that have galloping parts.
  18. I’m going to try that. Thanks!

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