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Picking Techniques & Exercises

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by pkeeg, Oct 6, 2000.

  1. I've been a finger player for a few years mainly because I couldn't use a pick. But as has been advised many times, I'm coming across situations where being skilled at both would be very useful. So for a couple of month's now I've forced myself to keep useing a pick and of course it's improving! Fifths & octaves seem quite natural. The old story- keep practicing and it WILL happen.
    I tend to use a style where I down stroke mainly & up stroke for the first note when I change strings.
    What Style do you use? and has anyone got any exercises to develope picking technique? Thank you.

  2. Pkeeg,

    I was about to post a similar msg but you beet me to it!

    I have been playing only a matter of months but I use my fingers.Like you,I think it would be a valuble skill to posess.It is like starting all over though!!!I get discouraged cuz I can`t even play simple things with the pick :( The loud crisp sound would come in handy for being heard and playing heavy metal.I see now why so many bassists favor the pick.

    Just my 2cents worth!
  3. On the rare occasion that I DO use a pick, I just tend to go with what's comfortable for the song. Some times I can get away with down strokes only, and sometimes the down/up/down/up is more comfortable. I'd say whatever's comfortable and works for the song should be good enough. :D
    Come to think of it, when I use a pick I pick in the same way I would if I was playing those chords as a rhythm guitarist. Maybe something to think about? I dunno... :confused:

    [Edited by Sheep Man on 10-08-2000 at 12:21 AM]
  4. I envy people who play with their fingers. I started using a pick. I have been playing for nearly 3 yrs and good luck in getting me to play without the pick. I can do simple notes etc but nothing to complex.

    Yet with a pick I can blast loads of metal and fast playing. I guess what I'm saying is, learn to use a pick but don't forget/become rusty at the other style. I would give anything to be able to play both ways. :)

  5. Tarquin


    Oct 9, 2000
    I started off about 14 months ago and I used a pick because I was too clumsy with my fingers and because Nicky Wire used a pick and all I could play were Manics covers (UK reference).
    When I joined a band, the pick gave too tinny a sound so I started using my fingers. The main problem I had was that the book I learnt from instructed me to only use two fingers, which meant I couldn't play very much of anything. Once I'd learnt to use three, I quickly found that the advantages of the pick were rapidly diminishing; it was a lot easier to play different strings quickly, and the loss of speed was only really slight. I eventually figured out that I simply didn't need to play that many notes.
    I'd recommend to any pick player to at least become compentent with their fingers, if only so they have an alternative sound to make use of.
  6. Don't forget to do a lot of experimenting with pick angles(in all directions), pick location on the string, firmness of grip, etc. You'll be surprised just how many different kinds of tones are available.

    One approach I stumbled on gets a really good approximation of some classic Joe Osborn tones: play quite close to the fingerboard with the flat edge of the pick square on the string - then use a VERY loose grip on the pick in such a way that by the time the string is released, the pointed end of the pick is almost pointing at the ceiling. Also, use almost the entire exposed area of pick for this stroke. This yeilds such an incredibly warm, blossoming note with a very slight percussive edge. It is a very unique colour compared to more typical pick tones that we are used to and of course works best with flatwound strings and a Fender bass (or a G&L SB-2!). For a perfect example of this particular tone, consult your parents' record collection - "Lonely Looking Sky" from Neil Diamond's Jonathon Livingston Seagull soundtrack (1973). Your local public library may have it too. ;)
  7. I tend to pick like a rhythm guitarist, downstrokes on downbeats, upstrokes on upbeats, of course you'l have to abandon the rule when playin' triplets.
    Thats goes mainly for 16'th note style basslines

    For "AC/DC" style 8'th note rock lines i only use downstrokes
  8. JonathanD


    Dec 13, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    I hit each string from the direction I am coming at it and altternate otherwise.

    Try scales doing 1 hit per note, 2 hits per note, 3 hits per not and 4 hits per not. Then try skipping strings.

    E Open D1 A2 G3 E1 D2 A3 G4 and so on. Also do the single and multiple hits with this. And play songs.

    I agree with downstroking for AC?DC and "harder sounding" bass lines
  9. Cool to see others who use both - It's just 2 different ways of kickin' ass really :smug:

    What I'm curious to know is, do any of you have a cool way of gracefully moving between fingers - pick - fingers say mid song in a live situation ??
    I've been thinking about this like crazy, considering taping a pick to myself or something because one of our bands tracks has a 16 bar slap section with a double chorus after it that requires a pick :help:

    I used to do it all with fingers, which sounded quite good, but the pick gives the chorus such a better kind of Tool-esque tone...:D
  10. MammaryVest


    Oct 18, 2006
    Stoneham, MA
    Not to Hijack the thread or anything, but I've heard the phrase "Carole Kaye picking technique" a lot, but never had a decent explanation. Does anyone know something about that?
  11. i used fingers for about 4 years and have been playing with the pick for about 10 months now and one of the most helpful things i have ever been told about playing with a pick is to always downpick ON the beat and always up-pick OFF the beat... even if it makes it harder to play the riff, if you practice it like that youll be surprised how tight you can get it!
  12. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
  13. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    I play with a pick and have done so for over 20 years now. My very first instructor was a guitarist that also taught bass, so he had me start that way. I get a much cleaner sound and more clarity using the pick than I do with my fingers. What I do alot of times when I need to switch back and forth in styles is instead of using the pick, I use the end of my index finger like a pick...this lets me transition back and forth quickly.

    I have done this with my finger as a pick, switched to finger style, they transitioned into slapping all in one song.
  14. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Exclusively a finger player here. I admire ppl who can pick.

    Every once in a while I try to play with a pick, but the things end up rolling around in my fingers so I'm playing on the wrong edges. Eventually I end up dropping them.

    Have tried picks with a semi-sticky surface, scuffed surfaces and the Dunlop grip pix to no avail.

    I would like to learn to use a pick just for another tool. Also a few times engineers have asked if I can pick for a crisper attack. I wouuld just like another color for my paintbox.

    Have heard some players prefer all down strokes. Comments?
  15. BassBob185


    Oct 25, 2007
    Rocking Chair
    I have probably the worlds largest collection of bass picks that I tried over the years trying to refine my picking technique and find the perfect pick. Here is what I came up with. A blue Tortex pick (1mm) that I covered both sides with green felt (the kind with sticky already on it and comes in many colors that are available at Michaels). I also hold the pick almost sideways meaning I use the bigger end to strike the strings not the smaller pointy end. It works for me and the sound is really amazing. I don't like the clicking sound a pick makes. For those interested, cut a piece of felt slightly bigger than the pick then put it one one side of the pick and trim with scissors. Repeat the process for the other side.

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