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Picks or Fingers? Which do you prefer?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Diesel Kilgore, Jul 28, 2012.

  1. So I went out and bought a couple picks today. Very nice Fender tort shell medium and a heavy, haha, had to get the tort shell. :D It was a first for me, i've never put a pick to a bass string ever.

    But I will tell you....I had a frickin blast! It was really a good get down time on the bass with a pick! I didn't think I would enjoy it so much. Kinda had to re-adjust a little bit, but I enjoyed the tone and the ability to jam a little faster then when I normally finger pluck.

    I used to hold my nose up to bassists who picked, but I think i'm converted. Not totally, but I need to stock up on more picks if you catch my drift. :cool:
  2. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Used pick pretty much 100% of the time since the late 70's myself. Did do fingerstyle including some flaminco guitar style fingerstuff before that. But like you found I prefferred the tone, playability and so on of pick better. The majority of my fave pro bass players are pick users to.

    Heres a trick to get best pick holding/manipulation, and tone with pick imo. Dont use the single pointy end of it for string striking. Use either of the two more rounded ends instead.
  3. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    Finger man. Big, round quarter notes, muffled and deep. Never got the hang of using picks. Might have been because I was twirling my tongue while I was playing lo.....
  4. rapidfirerob

    rapidfirerob Fusion rules!

    Fingers all the way. I play some guitar and reserve the pick for that. It's just a choice.
  5. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    When I played full time back in the 70's and early 80's I use to alternate between using my fingers for some songs and using a pick for others. I'd say it was about 50/50. If the song sounded best with a pick then so be it.

    Didn't use a pick for years and lately I've been getting back into it. Same as before, if it fit's then why not? Fact is when I last played at church I used a pick for one of the songs and to my utter amazement a few of the other musicians in the crowd were like..." that pick tone was friggin' great on that song!!" It was kind of a first because there's three other bass players there and they all play finger style. So it caught them by surprise and they loved it.
  6. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy
    So, as picks aren't any necessity at all, why quit a pure pleasure like beating the hell outa my basses with fingers?

    Anyway, everybody now and then have to adhere to a somehow "model" for a reason or another...
    I started to finger picking almost immediately, aiming to join an Iron Maiden tribute band more or less 20 years ago.
    15 years ago I joined a Metallica tribute band, so I had to switch to active 5 stringers and picks, so I'm no new to them.

    I love Fender, but beware of their medium picks: if you pick as hard as with your fingers, you'll end up breaking one per each track!

    Stick to hard ones, or, if not Fender's, try Dunlop's or Pickboy's, from 0,75 or 0,88 on. Not "too on" for very sane reason... If you pick hard with a 2,00 thick pick, you can delocate strings from saddles...

    In' serious...

  7. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I prefer to switch off between ficks and pingers. Either that or pingers and ficks. No preference... :smug:

  8. funkyjudge

    funkyjudge Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2010
    Langhorne, PA, USA

    Although it is surely a matter of taste, and as such there is really no "better" or "worse" bass-playing method, I will take good fingerstyle playing (a-la James Jamerson, Francis Rocco Prestia, recently-departed Donald "Duck" Dunn, etc.) over pickstyle playing any day of the week. To me, pickstyle playing sounds too "clanky" no mtter who is doing it and how good their technique may be. That being said, I own a couple dozen heavy picks and thick felt picks for bass, and I will use them on rare occasion (although not with my high-end active five-string basses) for certain styles of hard rock/heavy metal and occasional country-and-western playing.

    Just my $.02 contribution on this topic.
  9. Yeah I kinda found the Fender medium to be a little too rigid, not too bad though, I bought the heavy but after one try I know i'll never use it. I think something just a touch thinner would be perfect.
  10. Corbeau


    Dec 14, 2011
    I actually like using the Fender heavy picks, they're the only picks I use nowadays. To me, they're just thin enough to have a little bit of flexibility, but not so thin that they'll disintegrate. I find that if I play using picks that are thinner than the Fender heavy picks, then I tend to break them.

    On bass, I've tried to play with a pick and it just feels awkward and clumsy. I tend to play better fingerstyle.
  11. Stormer


    Jul 24, 2012
    Only ever played with a pick when I was learning.
  12. rockscott


    Aug 28, 2010
    After decades playing only with a pick, i now find myself playing with my fingers almost exclusively, i get far better string control with my fingers!
  13. Anaughtybear

    Anaughtybear Guest

    Apr 3, 2012
    Fargo, ND
    All fingers, all the time. A pick seems limiting to me. You get a completely different natural syncopation with fingers than with a pick. It's pretty hard to switch styles from slap, finger style, flamenco with a pick in your hand. What if you drop it? You look a goon and miss a beat finding another. Using fingers feels better. Bass is sensual. I want to be touching it as much as possible. After all what feels better, condoms or skin? Geez, I have weird metaphors.
  14. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    Fingers, unless the song calls for a pick.
  15. greggster59


    Oct 31, 2006
    New Jersey
    Back in my guitar days I only used a pick. As a bassist I only use my fingers.
  16. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    I played with picks for about 10 years before switching to finger style. I haven't touched a pick in 15 years now, except to clean up after guitarists.
  17. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Constant state of flux
    I played almost exclusively with picks for the first 25 years that I played. One day I decided that I need to learn to play better with my fingers so, I played pretty much exclusively with my fingers for the next few years. Then one day I picked up a pick again and discovered how much I still love that sound. These days, I play probably 95% with my fingers, but I still play better with a pick.
  18. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Mostly fingers, but some songs sound better with picks, so I always keep a couple in my pocket. I am a better player with fingers, so I find myself practicing with picks most of the time now days.

    I use the Clayton, .80mm triangle shaped picks.
  19. BluesWalker

    BluesWalker Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    I am in the process of switching from finger style to picks (2 mm delrin) I think I got bored with the finger style sound and am enjoying the brighter pick attack sound.
  20. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2012
    Nowadays I play mostly with fingers, but use a pick when I want the sound of a pick. I see picks as tools in the same way as things like slides, tremolo bridges and pedals. They are there to create different sounds.

    Wow. How hard to you play? You do know that your amp have a volume knob, right? :smug:

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