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!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

To Pick or Not To Pick....That is My question

Discussion in 'Ask Mike Watt [Archived]' started by theirishdude05, Nov 8, 2002.

  1. theirishdude05


    Nov 8, 2002
    Heres my deal, Im the bassist is my band and our music has a punk rock backbone so the notes some by fast, but we mix in heavy stuff and AOR, so some songs, i let the notes ring out. The lead gituarist wants me to drop the pick, which i use on the fast stuff (We cover jimmy eat world "sweetness" and i cannot play that w/o a pick) but usuially dont do when we let the notes ring. Should i drop the pick, do what im doing now, or pick all if it? Help
  2. Sonic

    Sonic Lord of the Grump

    I'm not watt, but what I'd say is do what you want, don't the someone else tell you how you're comfortable playing. I can personally use both a pick and fingers, and I use them when the need arises. My advice basically, do what you think is the right thing for you, not your guitarist.
  3. watt

    watt the man in the van w/a bass in his hand Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2001
    san pedro, california

    well, I'd think about this a little first. sometimes, it's good to take direction, especially if it'll help you learn something or if you've put yourself in the position of helping someone realize some kind of a musical vision. I'm not saying this about your entire musical experience but rather a specific situation. you should be the master of your own musical destiny. however, from time to time, I think it's good to be in a place where someone asks of you things that maybe you wouldn't try if left on your own. this can offer insights, either positive or negative but whatever, you can find out things that always getting your way won't let you explore. I'm not saying to let folks walk all over you but if it's their project, give their ideas a shot and see how you like it. don't be afraid to experiment cuz it's all a type of investment into your musical future. pickin' for this cat may lead you to pick for yourself, who knows? life for a bass cat can easily be some pickin', some pluckin' - especially if this situation (playing a role for someone else) isn't your only outlet. let life try and teach you too by trying things out. don't miss out on the opportunity w/a self-defensive pre-emptive strike.

    now, if it's your own band or project... (just kidding - remember, telling people what to do is much easier than inspiring them - you decide what's more important regarding that)

    on bass, watt

  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Many people argue about the use of metrtonomes - and I don't want to start another debate here, but I'll say this. Playing to a metronome has DEFINITELY increased my plucking speed. And its fun too. I'd suggest getting a metronome and playing 8th or 16th notes to a speed that your comfortable with. Do it for about 5 minutes then go up a notch. Keep doing that until you can't keep up and then lower it again a notch and play as many damn notes as you can. You can go steady on one note, play scales, play whatever you want - the point is to keep the fingers moving. Do this for a couple of weeks and I absolutely guarantee your plucking speed will get faster, as will your timing.

    It's really important however to go to a speed you can play perfectly, if you go too fast for yourself you'll be defeating the purpose.

    Until you can play the songs with your fingers intead of a pick, I'd use a pick and tell the guy you're working on it. I think it's a good idea to learn to play with your fingers. It'll make you more versatile, and IMO it's much more fun and expressive.

    Good luck.
  5. Borntu


    Nov 12, 2002
    St. George, Utah
    Playin the bass with a pick is like playing the bongos with drumsticks....
  6. watt

    watt the man in the van w/a bass in his hand Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2001
    san pedro, california

    I'm saying this w/no disrespect to the above comments:

    playing w/a pick is ok. it's got its own thing. for me, being against using a pick is like being against playing quarter notes or something like that. in my view, a versatile bassist can play w/both a pick and fingers - hey, maybe even both at the same time - it is possible! seriously, I don't think folks should put down others for not using the same techniques they embrace. some situations lend themselves righteously to using a pick and some for the fingers, it's like peaches, plums and pears. just my thoughts. I hope no one feels small or inferior cuz they use a pick. I don't think that that's right. entwistle used a pick sometimes.

    on bass, watt

  7. picks are totally cool for that staccato machinegun attack. Dick Dale (okay, not really a bass dude...but definately a percussive and rythmic player), John Entwistle and Metallica all used the super heavy pick action. Check out all those surf-music dudes from 1961-1963...man, all those electric bass inovator dudes used picks from time to time.

    Have you seen Dick Dale's live show recently? Man, he plays the bass with drumsticks! it's a wicked, wild sound. Check him out!

    Check out Entwistle with the Who...Live at Leeds, and Isle of Wight...man, if that's not an argument in favour of pick experimentation and use, I don't know what is.

    best wishes

    Dave P.
  8. bplayerofdoom


    Aug 6, 2002
    When your thinking of learning to play well with you fingers just remember this scenario "By golly, now where did I leave that darn pick" and by golly you'll wish you didn't need one. Now if you suffer from the "Ok I got my pick now wheres my bass" problem I can't help you there.
  9. takeout

    takeout Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Kansas City area
    I've said it elsewhere and I'll say it here: picks are just as valid as anything else. Remember, it's a bass GUITAR. If I tried to use my fingers to do some of the things that I do with a pick, I'd need reconstructive surgery.

    Besides, an extra tool in the toolbelt never hurt anyone.
  10. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    This is what it's all about. Play what the song calls for. Pick, fingers, slap, tapping, strumming, just slamming on the strings, as long as it's in the name of music, it's gotta be good.
  11. watt

    watt the man in the van w/a bass in his hand Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2001
    san pedro, california

    I endorse matt's comments here to the fullest - use your face even if you feel it in your heart and it makes you play passionately.

    on bass, watt

    p.s. I agree that dick dale is one hell of music-making cat!

  12. BluePinkGreen


    Feb 24, 2002
    Auburn, CA
    there are people that will say that picks have no place in the bass world, but i say do whatever. i personally use whatever sound i like. the same way people use basses made of different woods to get a differnet sound out of the bass, i use a pick if i'm playng something fast and punk/indie because i like the crisp sound of the pick. if i'm playing something slower or mellower, i will usually use fingers so i don't cut thourgh so much and mess up the mellow sound. just do whatever sounds right, and if it's too fast for you to finger, play it with the pick (but i'd highly suggest practicing it on your own fingering sometime, even if it sounds like crap. if you do it a bunch you'll llearn how to do it, that's how i started being able to sing and play at the same time)

    bass is all about the sound.
  13. watt

    watt the man in the van w/a bass in his hand Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2001
    san pedro, california

    I would add that it's a lot about the feel and the groove too. another thing about bass - it's felt besides being heard.

    you make some good points. people who say that picks have no place w/bass are not being very open-minded in my opinion.

    on bass, watt

  14. a confession...for the longest time i was one of those anti-pick guys. it was all fingerstyle for me or nothing at all. then after while at practices with my band i started farting around with the pick a little bit and i realized that it does have its place after all. sometimes ,in my opinion, a song will need that sharp nasty sound you can only get from a pick. other times a song will need that warm round sound & feel that you can only get from fingers. so i guess aside from just doing what you want to you also have to do what the song calls for and what the song wants you to do!
  15. watt

    watt the man in the van w/a bass in his hand Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2001
    san pedro, california

    thanks for relating your experiences on getting over prejudices - very inspiring, all of us can learn from that.

    this band superkeltic used to have this great bass player who played w/his fingers and pick at the same time - whoa! anything goes!

    on bass, watt

  16. rob_d


    Jun 14, 2001
    Just a quick story on this. Another bass player friend of mine who shall go unnamed, who also happens to be one of the most stubborn SOB's you'll meet had a discussion with me about this. Now I play with my fingers but have nothing against pickers...but this guy was berating the notion of playing with a pick to the point that it seemed like a crime. Knowing that he was a big "jam band" fan I later asked him who some of his favorite players were. Lo and behold two names that came up right at the top of his list...Mike Gordon and Phil Lesh. Oh really? Hmmm...both pick players. He pretty much shut down his pick tirades when I pointed this out to him. The point is it's really about the sound that comes out, not what you use to play it. Hell, if a guy can play a bass with a 16 inch dildo taped to his head and make it sound good I'll listen.
  17. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    I usually use fingers but at times I use a pick combined with a palm mute. Now that's a cool tone. If you haven't tried it, It kinda gives it an uprightish sound. I use it when we're doing some of the jump/swing stuff.
  18. watt

    watt the man in the van w/a bass in his hand Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2001
    san pedro, california

    now that's an idea!

    I think everyone here is taking a very healthy position on this subject - good to know folks can have open minds, I'm into it!

    on bass, watt

  19. rob,

    i think you're going into eugene chadbourne territory there - he sometimes uses a vibrator instead of a pick or fingers on guitar. nels cline did the same thing with watt during the last tour behind "contemplating the engine room" where he'd sometimes play the guitar during "liberty calls" using a toy space pistol. don't forget about tony levin and his legendary "funk fingers" (drumsticks that are worn on the picking fingers!)

  20. watt

    watt the man in the van w/a bass in his hand Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2001
    san pedro, california

    I remember vox pop (hollywood band in old l.a. punk days) had someone (maybe paul cutler, I think) playing w/one w/his hand, not taped to his head.

    by the way, don bolles (vox pop singer, germs drummer) has a new band called _deathbred_ that's just started playing gigs.

    on bass, watt


Share This Page