Preference: Pick or fingers?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by metaldog, Feb 4, 2004.

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  1. metaldog


    Feb 4, 2004
    Hey, everyone. New guy here. I just switched from guitar to bass and was just wondering what everyone's playing preference was and why. I like a pick for the attack and volume I get, but I also like fingers for the feel and smoother tone.
  2. I use my fingers, i tried a pic for a while but stuck with finger style.

    You've got more controle over the tone, u can get pick-like tone/volume by hitting the string with you fingernail and get a soft tone by using just your fingertip. It also enables me to play faster than i can with a pick. It seems less tireding too..

    but thats just my oppinion
  3. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    I use what ever the song or style of music calls for.
    Rock? Probably a pick
    Blues? Fingers
    70's funk? Fingers
    80's new wave or punk? Pick.
  4. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    I would strongly recommend becoming fluent with pick and fingers... not necessarily both at once. ;)
  5. metaldog


    Feb 4, 2004
    Like I said, I'm a recovering guitar player (18 years being mainly a guitarist. I've played bass on and off for about 10 years but now am solely a bassist, except for writing), so I began with a pick because that's what I'm used to. But I've been trying fingerstyle. Well, my own version of it. I call it the "Acoustic Guitar" method where I pluck (not slap) the low strings/anchor notes with my thumb and the rest with my index and middle fingers. I don't have the blessed Steve Harris right hand, so using my thumb helps me play faster, more accurately and confindently. Anybody else play this way?
  6. I use both. Now and then you're fingers will get ****** for whatever reason (paper cut, blisters), and you'll have to use a pick. I stopped practicing for about a week, then practiced for a few hours so I now have a blistering...blister..on my middle finger. So I'm using a pick until it goes away.

    IMO, master both. It wouldn't hurt. Although, you don't have to learn how to slap if you don't slap, obviously.

    Also, pick is GREAT for those late-night jam sessions when you're too tired to spend 10 minutes warming up your fingers for a 15 minute practice.
  7. i u have time to learn, and wanna express yourself on the bass, use both.
    picks, thumbs, fingers, slap, double slap, all are usefull, and there are no boundaries in making sounds.
    i like to use a pick, mutting the strings with the palm of my hand, on a fretless bass, to produce very percussive and also mellow bass sounds. its works very well, sounds even close to synth sound, but human played.
    also deal with the tone knobs of your bass, effects and amps, as u change technics.
    there are so many ways to make sound.
    remember that when u play alive with big amplifications make a world of difference of playing at home, studying at night.

    best regards.

    respect. :bassist:
  8. PunkerTrav


    Jul 18, 2001
    Canada & USA
    I use both. If you like the tones of both, you should probably use both also. Some songs just need the ringing attack of a pick, just as song songs need the smooth growl of the fingers. In the end its whatever you want to get out of the bass.

  9. the_kev


    Sep 5, 2003
    I always play fingerstyle unless i slap. Playing with a pick is just a way to show your inexperience and general lack of skill, try playing anything that is SLIGHTLY complex with your pick and you'll find that you can't. :confused: Why? because the bass was originally designed with fingerstyle playing in mind
  10. I disagree, the kev. Using a pick is perfectly viable for many different situations. IIRC, the electric bass was originally designed to be played with the thumb. Even if I am mistaken, slap and pop as we know it wasn't around at the time of EB conception, either. In saying that, I use my fingers most of the time. However, with shred-metal music around these days, I wouldn't even look at it without a pick in hand!

    The besst advice is the same advice given every time this topic is brought up - learn both. From there, you can decide the sound and style that best suits the music that you play.

  11. the_kev


    Sep 5, 2003
    Maybe, but when you think about it, playing 70 F's in 10 seconds is obviously going to be piss easy with a pick, but if you could pull it off fingerstyle, it would show a degree of true virtuosity. Try playing teen town or dune tune with a pick, and you'll find it's impossible, i still stick to that
  12. Fingers are generally more precise and softer. Picks give a stronger attack and sharper sound, and you can strum quite fast. Generally, I avoid picks wherever I can, but it may be called for in some situations. I occasionally play with a pick so that I'd have a certain deal of comfort playing with one, should the situation call for it. If you feel comfortable with the pick, by all means. I think you should learn some fingerstyle later, however.
  13. Don W

    Don W

    Jan 30, 2004
    East Bay, CA.
    I think that some people have a negative attitude towards pick but I think that it is as viable a technique to learn as slap or anything else. There are certain situations where the sound produced by a pick sounds much better in a song than fingers would. Look at some of the Red Hot Chili Peppers new songs. Flea has started using a pick because the situation calls for it. It just sounds better that way.
  14. Ahem. So you are saying...we shouldn't experiment? We shouldn't try new things...explore new techniques? Bass was 'originally' designed to only serve as a foundation to song structure. There were no bass virtuosos back then. Look at the last 20 years or so...Cliff Burton...Flea...Jaco...just to name a few, they've completely revolutionized the bass guitar. If they only did what bassists before them had done, well, music would be boring.

    Repetitive music isn't music, it's boring.
  15. Kid, music isn't about showing off your talent. It's about music. Don't be so concerned with showing off your "virtousity", people will be turned off by it.
  16. ColdYinTiger


    Jul 15, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    I'm a fingerstyle player mainly, though sometimes I pick up a pick. Its easier for me to play with my hands, I like to use different styles, slap, fingerstyle, mutes, two hand taping, harmonics and chords and its just easier for me to switch between all of them with my hands free. Also hands are more expressive in my opinion then pick, though playing with a pick puts me in a bit of a different mindset and helps me sometimes to think outside of the norm for myself. I say learn both because some somes just sound beter using one or the other. Do what sounds and feels right for the song.
  17. VS


    Jun 6, 2002
    Mountain City, Tennessee
    Discounted Gear: Peavey
    To me,a pick is like one finger. If I ever want a "pick" like sound,I use my nail. -Luke
  18. metaldog


    Feb 4, 2004
    I appreciate the kev's input, but I don't agree with the notion that a pick shows inexperience. I also think that using your fingers just to show off your virtuosity is a waste of energy if the same thing can be accomplished more easily with a pick. That mode of thinking harkens back to the gunsliger days of the 80's, "hey, look what I can do!" It seems to have more to do with ego than music.

    But I've appreciated EVERYONE's input on this topic and have been given alot to think about; I totally agree with the general feeling of doing what feels best to you and to make adjustments to your technique to whatever you're playing at the time.
  19. Exactly my point.
  20. NV43345


    Apr 1, 2003
    I am mostly a finger player, but I am also good with a pic.
    I recomend both. You may be in the studio recording one day and be asked to play with a pic. This happens more often than
    you would think. I always have a little bag of assorted pics
    in my gig bag. I also play my ABG with a pic for more volume.
    So even if you dont like pic's as I have seen in some of the posts, I would recomend knowing how to play with one.And I
    not talking about just hitting the string in a down stroke. I am
    talking about, up stroke/down stroke, palm muting, sliding
    string hopping etc etc.

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