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Switching over to playing with a pick

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Sundogue, Dec 22, 2004.

  1. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Well, after many months of trying different things to combat a problem I've been having with my wrist/hand pain, I've decided to switch over to playing with a pick.

    I've made all the adjustments with how high/low I wear my bass and it's made some difference. However, while the pain is lessened (or even gone for the most part), I've found that the way I wear my bass (lower now) is frustrating in so far as how it feels now to play it this way.

    So, I thought, why not try using a pick? I started out over 25 years ago playing with a pick. I played using a pick for about ten years before I switched over to playing with my fingers. I played the last 15 years or so with my fingers.

    But some things I noticed since lowering my bass is that my right hand seems to feel weird without my arm resting on the bass body. Also, I have a severly double jointed thumb that bends way backwards (you can see it in the picture). This has always bothered me as it forced me to alter my technique for fingerstyle playing. Though it never hindered my playing.

    But the thing about it is, my double jointed thumb is actually perfect for pick playing. For a while now, I've been playing with my thumb and fingers closer together, more and more every gig and practice lately. If you look at the picture, it seems almost as if I'm playing with a pick, though I'm playing fingerstyle.

    I tried it last night at band practice and I loved it! Certain songs felt and sounded even better than when I played fingerstyle. I seemed to be in the groove even more so than ever before. Pick playing seems to suit me.

    It's strange how I discover this after 15 years of playing fingerstyle. Kind of like going back to my roots. It feels perfectly natural to me and it came back to me right away without any awkwardness. Like riding a bike.

    I'm enjoying it a lot. Seems to have given me a new outlook and a fresh approach to playing. I know some people feel that playing with a pick is something negative...but I can tell you that coming from both playing styles, it matters more what feels right you, at least as long as you can still play the way you always have...or better.
  2. eric atkinson

    eric atkinson "Is our children learning "Is our teachers teachin

    Feb 4, 2001
    i understand the pain thing! I have been playing for about 21 years now and have tons of pain in my hands and fingers! One of my side jobs is playing in a modern cover rock band! (this is the most boring part of my playing) But we cover alot of songs that the bassist is a picker. Such as mud shovel from stained. I can play these tunes finger style like 2 times at a session but if i have to play this song over and over again because of the dumb guitar player not doing his homework then it just eats my fingers! I think its great that you change over because the best thing you can do is become great at all fashions of playing! I say power to ya! :bassist:
  3. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Well, I wouldn't say I'm getting great at playing both ways.

    But I do feel that knowing a bunch of different techniques opens more possibilities...No.1 being able to continue to play, so that's a plus. :)
  4. pistoleroace


    Sep 13, 2002
    Hell, I just take Ibuprofen (spelling?), it does help out on the inflamation. Part of my problem is, I play pretty hard because I grew up playing Iron Maiden and that's how I got the Harris tone. I can play with dynamics but overall I do play harder because I like the tone I get with a lot of attack. I have tried to play with a lighter touch and I can do it while practicing at home but at rehearsal or playing a gig, I just can't do it.
  5. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    My problem was way beyond pain killers. Basically if I didn't alter something, this would probably be my last year of playing.

    But altering the way I wear my bass and how I play it has helped immensely...to the point of it really not being an issue any longer.

    Besides, playing with a pick has really opened up some new creativity and dynamics I hadn't thought of. And for some reason I seem to lock into the groove even more (which was really a surprise because I've always been known for the way I play in the pocket).

    Just some things that I'm hearing and playing now, that I hadn't even considered before I switched back to using a pick. It's a very worthwhile thing for any bass player to do, even if you don't stay playing with one.
  6. Gamm


    Dec 22, 2004
    I have some pain in my wrist when I play too but I don't think ibuprofen is a solution ( a least, not a temporary one ).
    It just mask the pain, it'll not solve the problem. I read an interesting article about pain + bass playing. I think I found it by tapping ''Pain + bass playing'' in the Google engine and it send me to this ol' bassplayer.com article. I recommend to all bassist experiencing pain when they play to read this article.
    A lot more factors than we might think may be involved in your simple wrist and finger pain.
  7. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I tried playing my fretless with one of my dava control picks I bought and never used for guitar -- it feels SO natural! Very cool topic.