Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by pdq90, Jul 26, 2003.

  1. pdq90


    Jul 26, 2003
    Hey all

    I'm just in need of some advice on how to get my bass to sound like it should.....I've been playing for 2-3 years and although I can play with my fingers, I prefer to play with a pick....however, I can't get my bass to sound good when I use the pick, it sounds raw and choppy....I have a fender bassman 200 and the fender mark hoppus edition P-bass.....I'm looking for a sound like taking back sunday or the starting line if you know those two bands, both bassists use picks in those bands, but they sound smoother....I'm not sure if I'm missing something or if I just need to change the settings on my amp or what

    Thanks in advance
  2. mans0n


    Jun 15, 2002
    I, personally dont use a pick. But when I did, or if I just want to mess around I've found contrary to popular belief there is a much truer sounding tone when using very light soft picks, as apposed to the hardest heavy you can get. The softness allows the pick to bend before it actually plucks the string, making for a softer tone. In a way closer to a finger style tone.

    I suggest using a softer pick, or playing finger style. Also, playing softer could help change your tone.. Maybe play around with your amp settings?

    Be a little more descriptive of the tone you are looking for I havn't heard of these bands or songs and have no clue what you are looking for.
  3. pdq90


    Jul 26, 2003
    well, I'm not 100 percent sure how to describe it....basically i want the sound of the individual plucks u get with a pick, if u know what i mean, but at the same time i want a deeper sound than im getting.....i think thats the problem im having, on the settings im using the sound becomes real thin with a pick
  4. DW


    Jun 22, 2000
    I think the problem may be in your settings. It took me years to realize that pick sound is more top and bottom and suppresses the mids somewhat. Thickness comes from having the right amount of midrange. So I always boost the mids on those songs where I use a pick. How much depends on a lot of factors, like the frequency range of your bass and strings, but you might try boosting the mids a bit. Costs nothing to test it out.
  5. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    I have found that thinner picks "pop" more so than a thicker one. This is really prevalent when really digging in on a heavy line. Experiment with different thickness as well as theeq adjustments mentioned.

  6. nerdcore


    May 12, 2002
    I think you want the attack to be more subdued. This may be taboo, but using a pick on roundwounds (which is what I do) gives a smooth sound with a less prominent and "raw" attack. It's a little more percussive.
  7. The easiest way is to pick near the neck - you'd be amazed at how much fuller the sound is while moving only inches.

    Regarding softening the attack, even with a thick pick, you'll get less attack if you hold the pick with a very light grip so that it "flops" a little in your hand with each stroke. This can give a much smoother attack with less "click". Of course, that technique will only work for playing slower tunes or songs with fewer notes (it's hard to play really fast with a loose pick grip).

    Combine playing near the neck and using a looser grip and you should notice a big difference in the warmth and attack of your sound.
  8. I had (sometimes still have) the same problem, since I prefer to play with a pick as well.

    What I found was first experiment with different picks that suit your style and force of attack. I tried thin ones but didn't like them since they produced more attack and more high end. I ended up with playing Dunlop's BIG STUBBY/3.0mm. These are quite thick with nice rounded edges that makes it easier for the strings to roll off the pick.

    Then as was mentioned in previous post, playing closer to the neck is an improvement. This will mellow out your tone to some extend. Downside to it is that in certain basslines (quick and hard driven ones) this just doesn't work. The strings in that position are to "sloppy" and you might want to move down to the bridge position to get a tighter feel.

    Play with your amp settings. To my taste it's best to run the bass a bit up, take some high's out and fiddle around with the mid's till you get the sound you like.

    Then you have the option of playing with the tone control on the bass itself. I play a Fender Jazz and found out that I usually have my tone control in neutral or 3/4 towards high cut.

    And the last thing I tried was using other strings. I tried flatwounds, which definitely sound more mellow, but I didn't like them. You tend to loose a lot of highs and the attack of playing with a pick. I stayed with the obvious choice and that are stainless steel roundwounds. Currently I am using Rotosound's, also used DR's but they are brighter when considering we are playing with a pick.

    OK, that's about all I know and tried to get a warmer and fuller sound without losing the definition of playing with a pick.

    Post a reply if it helped.


  9. xcental34x


    Feb 28, 2003
    Memphrica, TN
    I know the sound you're talking about. TBS and TSL are two of my favorite bands. Try these settings as a template and work from there. I'd take a wild stab and say put you're Highs at 5, Mids at 1, Bass at 8-9. Both of those band's bassist focus on bass with cut trebles and mids. I personally like a more traditional punk sound with my Jazz Bass and my Treble at 7, Mids at 3-4, sometimes at 0, and bass at 9. Just tinker with your amp to get the sound you want. Thats how I got my 7-4-9 sound.


    ps: Mark Hoppus P-basses blow. You should consider trading it for a Jazz.

  10. :bassist: I've always played with a pick live. I would like to play with just fingers once in a while but lack of commitment...(lazy:oops: zzzzz?) Anyways like mansOn suggested I use a soft pick - Dunlop .46 - a teardrop shaped pick but I use the rounded corner as opposed to the pointier end of the "triangle".Using the rounder corner gives it a lot more "pop" or attack with some punch.It's very effective for tunes by bands like Green Day,Sum 41,Blink 182 and the like.It also gives me 2 fresh sides to a pick ( I wear down one of these soft picks in a nights playing). I'm also able to alter the shape and the angle of attack by bending the pick. Besides getting a very sharp attack I can get a bowing kind of feel.Choking up on the pick and playing with more pick also gives different feels. There are obvious eq differences between the two styles and I think a picker wouldnt need as much volume on the amp to achieve the same db level.
    I think there are things pick players can do easier and things that nonpickers can do easier. It's all a matter of preferences.Keep on experimenting with different stuff and you'll figure it out. Most of the nuances are lost on the average audience so it really comes down to wether it works for your style or not. Simple :D