Picking technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Peter McFerrin, Feb 1, 2001.

  1. A couple of questions:

    1. Where is your right hand when you pick? Do you rest it on the bridge or does it float?

    2. When you want to play fingerstyle or thumbstyle, where do you store your pick? I use three fingers so palming it with my ring and pinky fingers really isn't an option. I could wedge it in the gap between my bridge pickup and the body, but that seems inelegant and it would pop out eventually anyway. Any suggestions?
  2. Personally, I keep my hand between the neck and bridge pickups. But considering your 2nd question, I'm assuming you use a pick? On the rare occasion that I DO use a pick, I pick wherever gives me the tone I'm looking for. :D
  3. I want to integrate picking into my playing--it gives a tone, particularly when muted, that simply can't be duplicated. Normally, though, I just play fingerstyle or slap.
  4. rmp5s


    May 19, 2000
    Sheep man has the coolest quote EVER!!!!
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    wow, when abbreviated, your screen name sounds like a Russian weapon!

    If you like that muted sound, you have to rest your right hand on the bridge to get it. Any further out will mute so much that you'll only get a percussive noise instead of a note. The trick is to not only cover the string with your RH right as it comes off the bridge, but to press down a bit as well. This will enable you to get a strong percussive tone that you can also control, especially if you use a heavy pick (like a Dunlop Jazz II or purple tortex). Good luck.
  6. I play with a pick and my right hand is always resting on the bridge. I put the pinky side of my hand on the spring things or the back of the bridge. And when I switch to non picking, I put the pick between my teeth. (Its probly gonna end up lodged in my throat someday.) Or between my thumb and index finger.
  7. I agree with the between-the-teeth part. I do that all the time (even when i'm not using a pick, it just tastes good).
  8. Yeah, it does, come to think of it. Unfortunately, it has "anal" in it and people think the "d9" looks like 69 when they're drunk, so I don't use it as my AIM name anymore.

    Yeah, I know all about palm-muting, man. I actually do it fairly well on g****r, even though I've played bass two years and the other thing for just a few months.

    I'll just have to practice it.
  9. When I pick my hand floats. I don't really like the tone i get if i put my hand on the bridge. When i don't use it, i put it in my pick holder in the back of my headstock, or between the bridge saddles.
  10. For years I used a pick and my hand floated except for the pinky finger which lightly touches the top of the bass. Picks go in your right hand pocket. Having many of them in your pocket helps,they also make sreaps with pick holders. You can put a pick in between the pickguard and the body on the upper horn.
  11. I use a pick probably 60% of the time, I feel it gives me a lot more sounds to work with than just finger picking. I pick at different areas of the bass, sometimes near the neck, between the pick ups or near the bridge depending on the tone I'm looking for. Most of the time I'm supporting my hand with my pinky, kind of like a kickstand. I keep my pick between my teeth when I'm not using it most of the time. Try soaking it in beer for a couple of seconds before putting it in your mouth, taste great!!!!
  12. Sorry, dude, I don't drink.
  13. Has anyone ever spent 5 minutes looking for a pick, just to realize its been in your mouth the whole time? Or is it just me?
  14. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I haven't done that, but I have had my glasses on top of my head, while I went frantically from room to room looking for them! Worse, that has happened several times, not just once. I never kept a pick in my mouth though. I had a little place in the strap where I wove the adjustable leather back through slits and discovered picks could fit in their well and remain. Otherwise, I kept sevral picks at the top of my bass amp/cabinat tack ready to grab easily idf needed. It's my glasses that I can't keep track of, even when they are on my own head!

    Jason oldsted
  15. For resting my right hand, i just rest my forearm on the side of my bass and pick away right by the bridge.
  16. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    re: stashing the pick

    I used to have a strap with leather ends, and one of the ends had a slot cut in the top layer just so you could slip a pick in there. Dunno if you can still get 'em... seems like you could do that mod yourself.
  17. My hand usually floats, but if i'm "arpeggiating" chords or doing a lot of string skipping, keeping my pinky on the bass (below the pickups on the body) or resting on the G string when playing elsewhere helps me keep "centred", so i know exactly where each string is.

    Just an idea - if you want that muted sound but don't want the tone of picking right near the bridge, try "Semi-muting" with an extra finger on your left hand. i.e., if fretting with the middle finger, keep your middle + ring fingers together and rest the ring finger lightly on the string. This is obviously suited to playing some basslines better than others, you may have to practice it / adapt where you play the notes (single string is easiest).

    I vary where i play depending on desired tone, but need to practice this more :) usually closer to the neck the higher up the neck i am fretting.

    Bear in mind also that, especially with chords or multiple strings, depending on pick angle, etc, up-strokes and down-strokes can sound appreciably different. Could pay to be able to play all downstrokes except where absolutely necessary, for tonal consistency.

    When playing fat chords low on the neck, picking near the bridge can help to stop it sounding like mud - can give a nice thinck wiry tone.

    Also when picking the E string and then another string, since left-hand muting of the E in this circumstance is often difficult or impractical, try moving your hand down to mute the E (sometimes A ?) with the heel of your right hand.

    Another thing - when playing with a pick the string is not gently and briefly muted before the next atrtack as is often the case with fingerstyle, so there can be less difference between the attack and decay levels of your signal. This can translate into less punchiness.

    To compensate for this you may need to rythmically release the fretting tension with your left hand (sorta "squeezing" each note, or clusters of notes) to mute them just before (or some time before) the next attack. This can give your playing a more defined, punchy, and prominent feel - something i am concentrating on now. Nothing draws attention to, and energizes, the bass like this pulsing / breathing / rest notes.

    In general pick players, since their right-hand muting options are limited, sometimes have to think more carefully about muting than "fingerstylers".

    Stashing pick: Mouth, between body and scratchplate / other crevices in bass, between palm + 2 littler fingers (sometimes playing with "one finger" fingerstyle), or just between 2 littler fingers (if you can), floor, hair, strap ... many options are available. I dont switch much mid-song, but i've seen it done very impressively.

    Hope this rant helps. :)
  18. Sorry for double-posting, just re-read your post. Three fingers, eh?

    You might not like the look, but otherwise why not stick a ball of blu-tack on your pickguard, and spear your pick into it when it's not needed? Alternatively you could stick this wad on the bottom side othe instrument, a little more out of the way (easier to get it back with a larger pick). Or you could just chuck it and get another from somewhere when you need a pick again.
  19. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    My hand floats.
    I find that playing with a closed hand gives a more powerful sound ala Carol Kaye and that playing with an open hand and a lighter grip is better for a sweeter Steve Swallow kinda sound.

    I tried to find a solution to yer palming problem but decided since I don't slap much I didn't need to spend more than the five minutes I already did.
    Sorry dude, that's a tough one.
    I just hold it between my first and second fingers and play with my thumb and ring finger and that's mostly for chords not slapping.