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To Pick or Not To Pick - That is the ?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by iriegnome, Jan 19, 2006.

  1. Yes - Always use a Pick

    61 vote(s)
  2. No - Never Use a Pick

    359 vote(s)
  3. Sometimes I use one and sometimes I don't

    428 vote(s)
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  1. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    While trying to figure out some personal technique issues, I stumbled onto a virtual hot bed of a topic. I am sure it has been presented a million times before, but hopefully not exactly like this.
    Do you use a pick? Simple but very deep question. I stopped using a pick when I thought I was good enough to play with fingering. Recently I made the move to 5 string and I find myself using a pick again. For me, it is more comfortable to use the pick. What do you think\
  2. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    I got started playing bass when I got loaned a broken bass a couple years ago by a friend and it didn't come with a pick so I just used my fingers. Never really tried a pick, at all. maybe for 5 minutes here or there never put any effort into it cause i'm light years ahead of picking with my fingers and don't really have time to learn a whole new technique.

    I'm sure I'll get around to it some time though.
    Mantis Tobaggan likes this.
  3. 6-3-2


    Sep 20, 2003
    Sorry, but these threads usually lead to trouble. Fingerstyle players will all be "It's in the fingers man, nothing you can't do without your fingers." Then the pick players will be all "Dude, you can't get pick tone with your fingers." Then fingerstyle players will be all "If you grow out your fingernails it's just like a pick." Then pick players are all "That's ridiculous, just buy a pack of picks." And so on until the thread is closed. I'd say read some old posts about it, you won't get anything new from this.

    The scholarly use of language is to prove a point.
  4. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    I don't really use a pick ever, but then again, I play a 6 stringer. When I finally get a 4 banger, I will primarily use it for picking (ala APC and Tool.)
    Tedthulhu likes this.
  5. Squidfinger

    Squidfinger I wish I could sing like Rick Danko.

    Jan 7, 2004
    Shreveport LA
    I was strictly fingerstyle for the first 3 years I played. I like to think that was enough time to perfect my finger technique. But then I started becoming deeply depressed about my playing. Things just weren't clicking or flowing as easily as I would like. But then I stumbled across some picks I had bought a long time ago. All of the sudden I was grooving my ass off. I was learning music by ear alot faster since the scale tones rang so much clearer. Root pumping sounded 1000X better because of the more even tone.

    So to put it plainly I had an epiphany and haven't looked back. Really the only time I still use fingerstyle is for slow, ballady type stuff.

    And if you think pick tone is too thin just use 3.0 mm picks and flats like I do.:cool:
  6. When I started playing bass in the early 80s, there weren't too many bassists that I was listening to that used a pick, so I learned with my fingers.
    It wasn't until I started playing some songs from the Cure that I started using a pick.
    Now I just use whatever gives me the tone or attack that I want in a song. I even play the same song with either method depending on how I feel.
    Phud and BK bassist like this.
  7. AndreasH


    Apr 8, 2005
    I myself never uses a pick. But there's definetly nothing wrong with it! I just love the sound of a rick played with a pick :rolleyes:
  8. I learned to play without one, and now I find that if I try to use one it gets in the way of my playing.

    I'm sure if I dedicated myself, I could eventually learn it, and it would open up new sonic possibilities. But since I have not nearly exhausted the sonic possibilities available to me with fingerstyle (and I only use 4 strings if you can believe that!) I'm not all that motivated to learn. Maybe one of these years...

    But pick usage has its place - to each his own.

    Are there sounds you can get fingerstyle that you can't with a pick? Sure. The converse holds true as well. So like most things here on TB, beauty is in the ear of the listener.
  9. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001


    I wish that I could play with a pick.
  10. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Just like anything else, using a pick is different for different people. Over the last couple of years, I've grown really fond of the sound of a pick used close to the neck with flatwound strings. I even use a pick sometimes with my fretless.

    I'd say that over the course of a gig, I run about 70/30 in favor of using my fingers.

    Just remember that the sound you make using a pick after 1 hour of trying is NOT how it's going to sound after 1 month of using a pick. Why would it?

    The only other thing to remember is that anyone who speaks in absolutes ("picks are only for guitars" or "real bass players only use their fingers") are absolute idiots. Other than that, the only thing to listen to is your own ears, hands, and brain.
  11. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    I completely agree, but I am interested in all points of view. I have never been one to think that "picks this" and "fingers that". I am just finding out that with my 5 string and 6 string, it is better (FOR ME) to use a pick. Most of the big names (TO ME) when they are truly playing 5's and 6's that they are using a pick.
  12. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I started out over 25 years ago playing with a pick.

    About 15 years or so ago, I learned to play with my fingers and have stayed that way.

    Until I joined my new band. Just classic rock songs across the decades. For some reason I thought I'd give a pick a try again just for my amusement.

    Interestingly enough, I found I like playing with a pick. Now I play equally well with both. Sometimes I play with a pick, sometimes I don't...just depends on my mood.

    I play a bluesy tune and I might use my fingers...but then we play some good old Head East and I use a pick on my P-Bass with roundwounds and damned if it doesn't have that nice clanky sound happening.

    Whatever works for ya.
  13. Cougar207


    Jun 17, 2005
    St. Charles, MO
    I learned with my fingers, but in the search for my tone and relief from blisters I started using a pick. Now I'm 75/25 pick. It all depends on what sound I'm going for. In a few songs, I use a pick for the verse but not in the chorus. I don't see why this post should turn into s*** throwing contest. If you want the sound that you get from a pick then use a pick. If you want the sound you get from playing with your fingers then use your fingers. How complicated does this have to be?

  14. Well, there are two kinds of people

    • those who believe that their way is the only way - if you differ you are completely wrong

    • and those who say do your own thing.

    Whenever type 1 shows up, the s! starts flying!

    For example, see any post about "tube vs. solid state"!
  15. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Yup, this has indeed been covered a zillion times before - one of the perennial old saws...

    To me, versatility is one of the highest ideals for which to strive as a musician. I think it applies especially to bassists, since the bass is such an essential component of virtually every type of music, so the opportunity to grow and stretch is omnipresent...

    I would never try to cover a crunchy Chris Squire part by playing fingerstyle on a P-bass, using a string mute and a set of dead, old heavy-gauge flatwounds. By the same token, I would never try to cover a James Jamerson part by playing pickstyle on a Rickenbacker 4001/4003, using a set of brand new, light-gauge steel roundwounds...

    If you're a good musician, you simply use the tools & techniques required by the genre & style of music in which you're operating - and leave the silly, superficial biases and ideologies out of it. Period.

  16. I only use picks with my Rick cause it rhymes: Pick/Rick popcorn.
  17. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    It all depends on what type of sound I'm going for. Right now, with my band, I use my fingers. If things tend to get really fast, I cut the plucking in half (imagine motor picking with your fingers on some really fast stuff! I can't move 'em that fast!)

    But, if I really want that cutting razor blade edged sound on bass with my distortion, I'll use a pick.
  18. Rich600


    Nov 22, 2004
    I use both, pick for aggressive playing/fast playing/for a pick tone, and fingers for slower quiet stuff. I don't see why anyone should be consided 'not a true bassist' not matter what right hand technique they use, if it sounds good, who cares?
  19. gamera


    Sep 20, 2004
    Gloucester, MA
    We had a bass player in our band that could play faster with his fingers than any of the rest of us could do with their picks. So I don't think that speed really matters one way or the other.

    I will say it is a completely different sound. I probably should use my fingers on a couple of our songs, but I'm not that crafty. I'm sure I could do it, but its just another thing I would have to think about while singing, so I don't bother.

    I'm sure there are fingerstyle guys out there that can sound very close to pick style, but why? They are different sounds that fit in differently in their respective places.
  20. If your playing something and you want to get a real punk kinda feel I say go w/ a pick (if you grow your nails out you might break one):eek:

    Otherwise use fingers, it'll build your technique anyways

    I think you should be able to do both personally but what you choose to do, and for what, is totally up to you.

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