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picking tone without the pick

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by seequeue, Jul 15, 2005.

  1. seequeue


    Feb 13, 2004
    has anybody ever tried picking without actually using the pick? I was just messing around, using my thumb and index together like you might normally hold a pick, and strumming with the nail of my index to get a very picklike tone. Has anybody ever done this before or know the effectiveness of this technique?
  2. Time Divider

    Time Divider Guest

    Apr 7, 2005
    Yep, I have. For about 2 minutes. Your fingernail should last for about an hour or so.

    In a pinch, sure (like if you drop your pick). Otherwise I'd stay away from it.
  3. seequeue


    Feb 13, 2004
    i've been at it for about 4...nothing bad yet :-f
  4. Mr.Phil


    Apr 9, 2005
    Upstate NY
    If you let your index nail grow just a hair past where it would normally end, you'll get a very percussive pick sound when you play. The only difference is that it really only works when you play finger style. That is, it would only work on upstrokes. It won't be as hard on the nail either...
  5. I have done this many times and been pleased with the results. However, I prefer to use just the index finger strummed quickly back and forth across the string a la Geddy Lee. Experiment with various anchors and wrist positions to find what works for you. This method allows me to play very quickly and produces a unique sound between a pick and fingerstyle due to the nail being used for the downstroke and flesh for the upstroke.
  6. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I have used it on occasion but mostly when it's necessary to switch between pick and fingers somewhat rapidly. Otherwise, there's that tortex wedged under my pickguard for a reason.
  7. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    IMO, finger nails and bass playing don't really work well together because they don't hold up really well and having them may effect your regular fingerstyle tone. Nothing is more un-musical than catching a nail on a string during a nice soft ballad or quiet passage. Whatever strikes the string is resposible for generating the tone and if you are depending on fingernails you will be headed for inconsistancy at some point down the road, but when that occurs(not if) really depends on how burly your nails are and how soft your strike is.
    A side not about the consistancy aspect: I noticed one of my guitarist friends(classical player also) had his thumbnail on his fretting hand grown quite long. When I inquired as to the reason I found out that it was a "donor" nail so in the event that he broke one he could cut it off and glue it to his picking hand. He then proceded to tell me a sick and twisted story about his teacher having to graft TOE NAILS onto his plucking hand due to unforseen breakage and apearantly this is not intirely uncommon!!
    I would go with a pick!!
  8. oldfclefer

    oldfclefer low ended

    May 5, 2005
    Southern Ohio
    ^^^^ Like he said
  9. Joenok


    Jul 1, 2005
    Arctic Norway
    Hey! I´ve used this technique for years, but i don´t play whole songs like this, i use it to create different sounds now and then. When i play like this, it sounds like somewhere in between fingerstyle and picking.
    I don´t grow my index finger nail, ´cause it makes my fingerstyle sound bad!

    Great technique if your right hand gets really tired in the middle of a song, too!
  10. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    Call me old fashioned but..when I want a pick sound...I use a pick.
  11. junkman510


    May 2, 2005
    Lebanon, PA
    I don't use the pointy end of the pic. I use the rounder edge of the pic. With this you can change the angle of the attack and get many different tones. It's like between pick an fingers. With a bit of palm muting you can do incredible things. I was told by a great guitar player about this trick and I use it now for both guitar and bass. It changed the way I play. It takes a while to get used to it but it is the bomb! I still use fingers and slap when it calls for it.
  12. firebass 1

    firebass 1

    Dec 16, 2005
    Ive been doing this method for many years. Like stated previosly you dont have to use it all the time. I use it in places when it is just a comfortable groove thing. like a rythme guitarst might be doing. It works great in back beat stuff for me. My finger nail over the years dosnt grow out far enough to make noise on the down stroke. So levels for finger picking work the same without having to adjust tone because of pick. I really dont know if this is a common or most likely Not common method. I did first try using a pick I really didnt like the sound of the pick. Anyway I mostly use three fingers and an occational thumb and pinky. Do what sonds best....
  13. However it's not quite the same as a pick, you can get more of a pick like sound if you play closer to the bridge IMO. But.. you can always just alternate between a pick and your fingers.. so you're actually using a pick rather then emulating one. :eyebrow:
  14. firebass 1

    firebass 1

    Dec 16, 2005
    In that sence Yes. I use my index finger for a pick and I do like to get close to the bridge for certain crisper sounds. I was reading about Getty Lee just now and it sounds like he too did something simualar. Could it be i stumbled onto his style blindly... ? Surely I am going to try playn some of his stuff.. Where I find it the easiest way to sing lead and play bass is when I use this style.. It makes that walk and chew gum thing a little easier for me.
  15. It's a definate possibility :p Just I forewarn you now, I've heard Geddy has some serious problems with his index finger these days hehe.
  16. dreamer25


    Dec 22, 2005
    First off, why use a pick to begin with when you have five on your right hand? Even if you dont like a type of music listen to or watch the bass player and his/her technique. My best suggestion is jazz players like Victor Wooten. That man can make you cry without saying a word. Look him up and listen to his solos. Picks i think slow you down, you can downward stroke the strings with your nails to make chords.

    Ooh and one last thing, picks do NOT help you play faster. I used to play with one until i came across a Victor Wooten video of a solo and now i can play faster without one.
  17. sotua


    Sep 20, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    Because sometimes you want a pick sound. Closest thing (IMO) would be double-thumping, but not quite there.

    Most people who use picks don't want faster, they want a pick sound.

    Having an open mind about your instrument helps. If striking the strings with a celery stick gives you the sound you want at a particular time, why not?
  18. firebass 1

    firebass 1

    Dec 16, 2005
    I couldnt of said it better.

    If sounds good do it.
  19. sotua


    Sep 20, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    Mmmm, I was thinking maybe I could have used asparagus instead of celery... :bag:

    But seriously... I used to be a fingerstyle nazi, back in the day when I was a teenager with a year or two worth of bass playing experience. Over the time I learned to listen with my ears instead of my eyes and my preconceptions, and music has never been more fun :)
  20. Nah, picks are just as fast as anything. I want everybody to stop being scared of losing something by using a pick/using their fingers and just choose based on sound. It can be my Christmas present from TB. :hyper: