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question for you finger players

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by dean owens, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. dean owens

    dean owens

    Sep 23, 2008
    pittsboro, nc
    first, this isn't a debate on what is better (finger/pick). i like the sounds of both. some of my favorite songs are played with a pick. i have played with a pick at various times in my life. a lot when i first started playing. and to be honest, i'm not that good with a pick. i have respect for guys who do it effectively.

    STOP! if you did not read the first paragraph do not post to this thread.

    so i play with my fingers and i watch different bass players. just curious if you other finger players "see" this too. even if pick players are playing a fast line or a line that is really moving around the neck, they look like they're just hanging out not doing much. but for some reason when someone is playing with their fingers, they could be doing the simplest line and they look like they're working. is it just me or does it give this appearance to others?

    trust me, i know they're working (so if you're a pick player there is no reason to get defensive). one of the things that made me not very good with a pick is that i never developed the muscles for it and i would cramp up. i'm just asking from a purely looks perspective. no fights or snide remarks. oh, and if it's just me, that's cool. i just don't get to ask these questions because i don't get to hang out with any bassist. :meh:
  2. Steve!


    Nov 5, 2008
    Yes I have noticed that and i think it is because many finger style players move their hands more obviously than a pick player who holds the pick firmly and plucks the strings
    with a simpler motion.
  3. dean owens

    dean owens

    Sep 23, 2008
    pittsboro, nc
    no, i get why. just wasn't sure if others thought the same thing or if it was just me.

    hmmm, for any pickers who might read this. do you ever think us finger players look way too busy for the amount of notes we're playing?
  4. Larz48


    Aug 18, 2007
    This is a good topic Dean, wish more would respond. I have yet to be a good pick player, it just doesn't flow for me. For the right type of music I'd say a pick is faster. I'd have to say alot of punk lines are better played with a pick, maybe. But I agree on your observations. Pick players don't always look that busy but think of what they are doing vs a finger player.
  5. anon65884001

    anon65884001 Guest

    Feb 1, 2009
    At least 100% agreed :bassist:
  6. i think you can look busy with both, but its much easier with fingers. most of the time when you see a pick-player REALLY going at it, its because he's skipping strings, playing at a breakneck speed, and/or making a spectacle of his playing.

    whereas with fingers, it takes a LOT less to look like you're a madman. you can be doing all of the aforementioned things and look like you're about to catch fire, but played with enough attitude, you can make brit-pop look like its ridiculously involved.

    i think it has to do with the movement of the hand as opposed to the wrist/arm, as mentioned before, the fact that you often have 2 fingers going at once, and the elbow movement. i used to really sell my movements in my last band because it was the most i could do in terms of "moves" because the lines were so complicated.
  7. I can't play with a pick. I tried but can't. My bf uses a pick sometimes with his bass, but then again he plays a guitar too..I find it much easier to use my fingers.
  8. I play both guitar & bass (I know, I know..........) and I don't jump about when I'm playing either instrument.

    I always had the impression I appeared to be doing very little when 'bassing' as I tend to stand at the back with only my fingers moving, whereas my whole arm tends to move when I'm playing rhythm.

    However, I've noticed many people in the audience actually looking at my right hand especially when I'm playing something like a fast boogie bassline (eg Saw Her Standing There - Beatles). And I don't mean the one's you'd usually expect, I mean the babes...yeah!!!!

    Considering I'm 62, this ain't bad :)
  9. dj150888


    Feb 25, 2008
    Belfast, Ireland
    As someone who plays both styles, I've noticed that there are things that look more difficult on both styles than they really are. I quite commonly play a string skipping thing where I play something like an octave, a triplet on the root, a fifth, triplet on the root, minor 6th, triplet on the root at quite a high tempo, when people are watching it, they seem to think it looks immensely difficult. With fingerstyle, if I'm dropping down a nice disco groove, again, people seem to think it looks immensely difficult when neither are.
  10. baalroo


    Mar 24, 2008
    Wichita, KS
    I'm almost completely pick-only, and would hesitantly agree.

    The exception would be that when a pick player is really going at it he can move his whole arm and basically come away from the strings completely between plucks and REALLY exaggerate his movements. A finger player has to pretty much anchor his hand at the strings.
  11. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    While I will agree that some bassist look like they're working hard and some appear to be chillin' I have never noticed any correlation between whether they were pick or finger players. Some bassist just learned how to minimize the motion of their hand (or hands) and look totally casual, others learned how to play the instrument in a more energetic way, and if you watch enough you realize that both are valid techniques. (Though I suppose one could make a good argument for Conservation Of Energy...)

    I've seen flailing/hard working pick players & flailing/hard working finger players...I've seen totally chill/almost motionless pick players & totally chill/almost motionless finger players.
  12. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Some tunes I really like to use a pick on, but I think I still look like I'm working way to hard! I mostly use upstrokes when I pick, I think subconsciously I'm still playing with my finger.

    You ever notice that some guys just make everything look easy?? I love when I see a guy playing a killer groove and he just doesn't appear to be moving much at all. I have never been one to subscribe to the "economy of motion". I take easy stuff and make it look hard.
  13. christle


    Jan 26, 2002
    Winnipeg, MB
    This is an interesting topic :) I have always thought the same thing but I think it is about the presentation. If you are an energetic player then it always looks like you are playing hard. I play with a pick or my fingers depending on the song and have been accused of being really into it regardless of the method I am using. Yet other times I have been accused of being chill. So I think that it really depends on how I present myself on stage.
  14. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I think a pick in the hands of a skilled player CAN be faster. However, there are finger-style players who are amazingly fast and accurate. I'm a fingerstyle player and when I'm in practice, I can cover the ground reasonably fast. Numbers like Link Wray's "Jack the Ripper" are no sweat as long as they don't go on for 10 minutes. OTOH, long fluid-sounding runs are a challenge.

    As for whether I look like I'm playing fast or not, I simply don't care. It doesn't matter to anyone, and no one except another bass player is going to even bother to look. If someone does look, they'll appreciate what they see if it's well done - regardless.

    One more observation - the way to be fast with fingers is to relax, not to tense up. Relaxed fingers work faster and don't tire as quickly on those number with long repetitive note patterns.

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