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should i stick to finger style?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by teprodic, Jan 28, 2003.

  1. I been playing bass for around 8 months and I been playing finger style for most of the time. I tried using a pick but I can't seem to play good by moving my wrists. When I use a pick I usually move my whole arm to stroke the string. That can make it harder to play certain songs that require going real fast because I would get tired faster. So should I just stick with 100% finger style or should I work on my picking?
  2. Work on your picking some more, but try to spend about 60% of your practice time with your fingers and 40% with a pick.

    To get some more strength picking, use a stiffer pick. Something on the order of a Gibson XH might help.
  3. Great advice, Peter.

    teprodic - learning more than one right-hand technique... is a good move. The transition to picking may feel awkward at first, give it time.
  4. There are enough worthwhile things about using a pick to make it worth sticking with, IMHO.

    Try ignoring the left hand for a while and focus on picking patterns. Make sure you use your wrist, and that it feels comfortable.
  5. Absolutely keep working on both techniques.

    Don't let anybody tell you there is only "one" "pick tone", because there are a huge range of colours available from the pick. Just like the fingers, experiment with playing at different points along the string - in particular, don't forget about playing near the neck. A lot of older, founding fathers of the electric bass (Joe Osborn, Chris Squire, etc.) spend a lot of time picking near the neck which can result in a huge sound with lots of warmth. Also, varying the amount you are 'gripping' the pick can change the attack quite a bit. A loose grip will give a softer, warmer sound. Also experiment with pick angles and the amount of pick you use to actually grab the string - that can give you differing speeds more easily.

    Of the three main ways to play an electric bass, fingerstyle, pick or slap, if I could only use two techniques, they would be fingers and pick. Fingerstyle is always asked for, but in my professional experience, using a pick has come in handy way more than slapping. Having said that, I don't play a lot of music that would lend itself to slap.
  6. Kid Charlemagne

    Kid Charlemagne

    May 29, 2002
    I agree. During my 10+ years as a pro, I've gotten WAY mire mileage from my pick than from my thumb.
    I enjoy slapping, and in the right context it can really lift a groove, but I've definitely spent more time practising the technique than making money from it.
  7. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    It depends on your musical context - what you would like to be able to play and what the people you're playing with would like you to be able to play. In my context, variations of slap techniques are much more useful than using a pick is... and I'm still playing fingerstyle most of the time.

    Whatever you feel the answer is for you, don't be afraid to use some of your practise time to experiement, and remember that most playing techniques feel a little odd when you first try them.

  8. Kid Charlemagne

    Kid Charlemagne

    May 29, 2002
  9. What kind of music are you into? Are you into Jazz, lite rock, latin etc... or ar you into Punk, Hard Rock, Heavy metal and stuff like that? If your into the Jazz first category I stated you should really focus on your fingerstyle more than picking, but dont exclude picking. If your into The punk and stuff then I suggest you learn how to pick more than pluck. Whichever music your more into I say still learn how to pick, It may come handy one day as it has for me alot even though I dont play alot of Pick oriented music. If your first starting out on picking just go with down strokes, and gradually build your way up to alternating down and up strokes. Mark Hoppus only uses downstrokes and so do alot of punk bassist, but learning the up down stroke is much better.
  10. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    It doesn't hurt to have many tools under your belt....but I personally have found that after 4 years of playing slap/pop tap, srtumming...etc I have returned to fingerstyle and enjoy it A LOT more. I still slap a little, but generally I like to play everything in fingerstyle
  11. To answer your question well I play in a metal band and I'm trying to see what would suit the music better because both styles do make different a differrent sound.

    Also, thanks for all your suggestions!
  12. One thing that greatly improved my picking, was holding the pick more loosely.
    I used to hold it with a "death grip" and had trouble with my wrist too.
    Your hand(s) and wrist(s) should be relaxed, and a tight grip makes this impossible.
    Playing with a lighter touch and minimal movement helped as well, especially for playing fast. (for fingerstyle also)
    When I play with a pick now, my wrist wrest on the body and the underside of my palm rests on the strings above the one I'm plucking, thus muting them.
    I find that muting is not the only advantage to playing in this position, it "forces" you to play with minimal movement.

    Short version : use minimal movement and don't grip the pick tightly.
    I find that if I keep reminding myself that my hand(s) should stay relaxed, it almost comes naturally.

    Hope this helps.