1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Rickenbacker with a Pick - WOW

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by nixdad, Mar 12, 2016.


  1. nixdad

    nixdad

    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Boy, did my world just open up.

    I'm by no means a newbie to bass, but I've pretty much played with fingers most of the time since I first started playing in 1977. I've been fortunate to have owned somewhere in the range of about 60 basses or so through the years, including 3 other Rickenbackers (2 x 4001's, and a 4003s with a toaster pickup that I had Rickenbacker make for me in the mid-80's, all strung with round wounds) but I also played these with fingers. I was mostly a Fender Jazz Bass guy. I was in the industry for a long time and had access to pretty much anything I was willing to pay for, even though I've never been more than a weekend warrior (I was in a cover band from '79 to '88.)

    Four years ago I was very fortunate to be invited to participate in an 8 member acoustic Beatles band with many former bandmates and some other excellent local musicians whom I've known for years.

    Fab%208%20white%20letters_zpsnkzipl4h.

    We have 2 bassists in the band (one plays percussion when not playing bass.) My buddy Dale plays a Rogue Hofner copy (heck of a good bass for being so inexpensive.) I originally used a P-Bass with flats with the band, then a customized Fender acoustic, then a Fender Starcaster strung with Thomastik T-1 flats (which I still love.) Wanting to complete the Beatles vibe as we were getting more gigs, I bought a new Fireglo 4003 at the end of 2014 (a month before Rickenbacker announced they were reissuing the 4003s...oh well.)

    The 4003 I purchased is a good one - lightweight, great neck and a killer Fireglo finish. I also strung this with Thomastik flats, but continued to play with fingers until about a month ago. Although I liked the organic sound I got with my fingers, I clearly did not cut through the mix as well as Dale, who has always played with a pick. To try something new, I finally decided to try using a pick about a month ago.

    WOW.

    0f0e46f1-7302-4de7-a8e5-4a2d0a99b560_zps7qosvs74.

    Boy, did this make the Ricky come to life. The combination of a pick with the flatwound strings, Ricky pickups and its lacquered fingerboard makes for one awesome tone. This has allowed me to attack the bass differently and more accurately reproduce (as close as I can get) several of the nuances in Paul McCartney's bass parts, something I could never do with fingers alone (at least with my limited abilities.) I can't wait to share the results with my bandmates when we finally start rehearsing again (we have gigs beginning in May this year.)

    I'm certain this is nothing new to you long time Ricky players. I've always enjoyed the tone from McCartney, Chris Squire, Lemmy and Geddy Lee, but WOW. This has opened up the possibilities for me.
     
  2. Chico Ruger

    Chico Ruger Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2014
    Western NC
    Interesting story, thanks for shaing it. I, for one, often resist trying new equipment/techniques. Being more open to new stuff would be good for me.
     
    Tbone76 and nixdad like this.
  3. Ghastly

    Ghastly

    Oct 18, 2015
    Mill Valley
    Interesting and thanks for sharing. I play with the fingers only. I can't get comfortable with a pick. Did you find it difficult to make the transition?
     
    nixdad likes this.
  4. nixdad

    nixdad

    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Thanks, Chico Ruger.
    It certainly provided me with the ability to more faithfully reproduce what was done on record.

    We're not a tribute band, so I don't need to worry about being note for note. I tailor my approach to what best fits our band, but what a difference it's going to make.
     
  5. Killer Canary

    Killer Canary Guest

    Aug 27, 2015
    I learned both ways but I haven't used a pick in years.
    I let those two nails grow to a certain length and this emulates pick tone fairly well.
     
    nixdad likes this.
  6. maxschrek

    maxschrek Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2006
    Chattanooga, TN.
    I like to use both technics, sometimes within the same song. I do this by using heavy gauge thumb picks, this way I can quickly switch to finger style and back without interruption.
     
    jacolyte, nixdad and Bassist4Eris like this.
  7. Mantis Tobaggan

    Mantis Tobaggan Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2015
    Tampa, FL
    I play mine with fingers and rounds. It cuts through nicely but i am so much worse with a pick that I really have no choice.
     
    nixdad likes this.
  8. I rarely used a pick until about a year ago when I decided to learn guitar and bought an acoustic. I learned chords pretty much playing around for a few months and then put it down. I started trying a pick on bass, which I used to suck at, and now after learning some guitar I got pretty good and comfortable using it. I also got a new Rick this past summer a Fireglo 4003s. I like it better than the other 4003 I had a few years back, and much better than the 4001 I had for a few months in the early 90's. I switch strings often going from stainless and nickel rounds set up low, to tapewounds to flats and they all sound great on a Rick especially with a pick.
     
    jacolyte and nixdad like this.
  9. nixdad

    nixdad

    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Ghastly -
    Besides just putting in the time to just get comfortable with it, the other factor was learning how to hold a pick correctly.

    My first inclination was to hold the pick with my index finger & thumb, with the rest of my fingers extended and dragging downward (think of doing the "OK" gesture upside down.") Luckily my son (who is a much more advanced bassist than I and very adept with both a pick & fingers) showed me the correct way to hold a pick - hold with index, middle & thumb with ring & pinky fingers loosely tucked under, more like a loose fist.

    I'm certain others have their own techniques which work for them. I'm still working at it, but the rest of it has just been putting in the time. I'm fortunate that I have several weeks before our first rehearsal this year and before we start gigging, so I should be pretty well good to go by then.

    Now that I'm getting this down, the coolest thing is how motivated I am to learn even more Beatles material. I've learned that playing with a pick is essential to nailing many of McCartney's bass lines. I learned "Hey Bulldog" last week, which features a very cool bass part (aren't most of McCartney's parts ultra cool?,) which scared the hell out of me when I first REALLY gave it a listen a year or so ago. It's not on our list of songs to learn yet, but I'll be ready as soon as it is. The technique has also helped me on parts I previously struggled reproducing accurately with fingers, like on the 3rd verse of "Taxman," intro to "Paperback Writer," and many others.
     
    jacolyte and 1stnamebassist like this.
  10. nixdad

    nixdad

    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'm jealous of guys like you who have the finger/fingernail thing going for them, Killer Canary. That combination produces a GREAT sound. Unfortunately, I still have a bad habit of picking my nails, so I'll never know the personal satisfaction of achieving that tone.
     
  11. I have tried the Chris Squire method of pick holding, which is a Herco pick, back rounded edge pretty much even with the thumb so when he hit the string his thumb would hit it immediately after. Gives a really cool harmonic effect. Of course he used stainless rounds set up super low to get fret buzz also. I have mine set up like that except if I play over the bridge pickup rather lightly I don't get any buzz, but heavier attack with fingers or pick over neck or bridge pickup produces the signature buzz. When I install flats, which so far have been Ernie Ball Cobalts or Fender 9050's I set it up a bit higher to eliminate the buzz. I haven't heard any bad strings on my Rick yet!
     
    jacolyte, DavC, nixdad and 1 other person like this.
  12. Mantis Tobaggan

    Mantis Tobaggan Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2015
    Tampa, FL
    I personally like to keep my nails regular length and play with the very tips of my fingers, kind of a sweet spot. I am annoyed when i am playing and my nails are a bit too long. I can hear them scrape on the string and also it slows me down just enough to annoy me. I play extremely fast though.

    You can get an idea, if you want, by listening to a bit of my last show.

     
  13. NealBass

    NealBass Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2014
    Ontario
    Beat me to it by a minute.

    I play guitar and bass so a pick on bass wasn't an issue for me. I pick-ed up a technique from either Jeff Beck or SRV on guitar that is also used by Chris Squire. You leave just the tip of the pick sticking out and hit the string with the plastic, then a micro-second later you hit it with the thumb tip. It creates a harmonic.

    Chris Squire explains it better around the 2 min mark of this video.



    Works for me. As do the Rotosounds.
     
    Exploiter8, Nomogram, pudge and 2 others like this.
  14. nixdad

    nixdad

    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'll have to try holding the pick that way, 1stnamebassist!
     
  15. nixdad

    nixdad

    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Yep - nice job, Mantis!
     
    Mantis Tobaggan likes this.
  16. I like rotosound's but they die a bit too quick on me. I don't know if it's body chemistry or what, but I have better luck with Dean Markley Blue Steels. I get at least 6 months out of a set. Right now I have the stock nickel rounds that come on the Ricks. They sound really good and seem to last quite awhile also. I'm on this find my favorite string for my Rick quest! So far the stock nickels, DM Blue Steels,Elixers, D'addario coated, D'addario tapewounds, Fender 9050 flats, And EB Cobalt flats have been tried. Rotosounds were tried on my other Rick that is no longer with me. They all sound good with fingers or picks! I'm constantly changing them around to find my favorite sounding and feeling and lasting string. A little OCD I guess!
     
    NealBass and nixdad like this.
  17. nixdad

    nixdad

    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Damn, I love Chris Squire. No doubt, his attack & tone is one of the best bass sounds to my ears.

    Boy, it has been years since I've seen this video. I had forgotten that Bob Birch was the interviewer. Bob visited our store right after he got the job with Elton John, and I last ran into him years ago at the NAMM show (I have a picture with Bob and my kids somewhere.) R.I.P. Bob & R.I.P. Chris.
     
    jacolyte and NealBass like this.
  18. NealBass

    NealBass Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2014
    Ontario
    My E string on the Rotos used to die in about a week (approximately 20 hours of play). I don't know if they changed something, or if it's me but, about a year ago this stopped happening. I did lighten up my touch a LOT a year ago ( a conscious effort on my part), so this may have affected their longevity. The last 2 sets have lasted me 6 months each. I'm pretty sure it's due to me not hitting the strings as hard, because my other basses need re-stringing a lot less, too. For me, a lighter attack = string longevity. Just a thought.
     
    nixdad likes this.
  19. Maybe I'll have to give them a shot again. It's been a few years. They are pretty cheap here in the States.
     
    nixdad and NealBass like this.
  20. I love playing with a pick my weapon of choice is a maple neck jazz bass neck pickup only and a tube amp You get much more attack
     
    nixdad likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.