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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. gjooro


    Mar 27, 2006
    I didnt say you shouldnt use a pick I said that fingerstyle and slap are basic techniques for bass. You can use a pick, I also used it but now I dont because I like playing with fingers. Any technique is welcome but bassics first.

    And that "I can play you recordings I made with a pick, and you wouldn't be able to tell those from the ones where I'm playing finger style". You can do everything with todays technology but thats not the point. Pick should sound like pick and fingers like fingers. I mean you can just take a guitar, use an octaver and set your amp or whatever to sound like you are using a bass.
  2. Ah, yes....

    So you think picks are ok, but you think people really need to learn fingerstyle and slap first...why is that?

    ...if you really want to get into "bassic" techniques, then what did the first P-Bass come equipped with?

    A slap-guard, right?:)

    btw, I can play in all 3 styles, I'm just not so great at slapping...because I feel it's totally unneccesarry for my style(as is fingerstyle 99% of the time).
  3. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Oct 20, 2004
    Well basics is that the electric bass guitar was designed to be played with a pick. This is why the Fender bass had a pickguard, a finger rest under the strings, and the cover over the bridge and pickup to rest your hand.

    I like playing with my fingers too, and play with my fingers most of the time these days, but for some musical passages, a pick makes more sense.

    I said nothing about recording technology. That track I mentioned is the bass plugged into a mixer. I get my sound from my picking technique, not from signal processing. I didn't play with a pick for 20 years because I wanted to sound like a pick, it just fit the progressive music I was playing. I used to find it easier to play very fast lines with a pick.

    Why? I think your bass should get the sound you want regardless as to how your strike your strings. I purposely played in a way as to make the pick not sound like a pick, but sound like the notes I'm playing. This is part of the reason I use heavy picks. I hate that clicky tone.

    That doesn't sound like a bass. Neither does a synth. A bass is more than low notes... it has it's own tone. If you are using a tone that removes all the harmonics and is all low end, then you can't hear your bass, but I never use that type of tone. That's one reason I hate amps that remove the tone of your bass.

    Tone is in your fingers (left hand... right hand can be fingers or pick! Assuming you aren't a lefty of course.)

    IMHO, too many players these days have no idea how to get a good tone.
  4. gjooro


    Mar 27, 2006
    Ok. I don't wont to fight over this "to pick or not to pick" question. It depends on style. There are always exceptions like pick & jazz and slap & metal but usually pick comes with harder stuff and some old stuff (like beatles - in their time almost everybody used pick) and fingerstyle and slap comes with funky and jazzy stuff.
    Use whatever you want, try power drill - you dont even need to do anything with your hands and the drill hits 16th notes at 500 bpm.
    I'm more into funky stuff but I also like other styles. I use fingers 99.9% (I don't remember when was the last time I used pick) but if me & the band want to play turbo fast stuff (like 16th notes at 220 bpm) i'll use a pick. With pick I can play faster but with fingers I can play much more complex stuff.
  5. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Oct 20, 2004
    And that was my point. There is proper technique to using a pick, and most bass players never learn that. This is why you get someone like Robert Fripp doing what he does with a pick... and there's no reason a bass player can't do that either. The space between the strings are greater, but that's what practice is all about.

    But in the end it's up to the player. No one has to know how to play with a pick, or their fingers. I played with a pick pretty much exclusively for over 20 years, and then one day decided I was going to start playing with my fingers. Now I do both. :D
  6. gjooro


    Mar 27, 2006
    This is what happens when guitar player plays bass:

  7. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Oct 20, 2004
    So you're implying that bass players can't, or shouldn't be able to play that fast if they were not guitar players? :rollno: I'm not a guitar player, and I have no problem doing that.

    I just see someone using correct left hand and picking technique. :D
  8. gjooro


    Mar 27, 2006
    I'm not saying that. I'm saying that guitar players don't have problems with switching to bass. Of course some bass players can do that but solos like that are usually played on guitar.
  9. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Oct 20, 2004

    Usually the problem with guitar players switching to bass is they try to play it like a guitar, and don't have a clue about playing a bass line.

    But there are some guitar players that made the switch to bass and sound great, like Paul McCartney, Bernard Edwards, and Ray Shulman of Gentle Giant. Three of my favorite bass players.

    All three play pick style, except that Edwards didn't actually use a pick, but he held his hand as if he was still holding a pick.
  10. gjooro


    Mar 27, 2006
    Yes, they play it guitarish. There is no groove but they have no technical difficulties
  11. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Oct 20, 2004
    I agree, but not all music has a groove either.

    Guitar players rarely have to play a grove the way a bass player would, so they don't know how to (unless they are just good musicians in general)

    The same can be said that many bass players don't play guitar the way a guitar player would either. :)
  12. I get so sick of people automatically dismissing someone as a crappy bassist just because of their use of a pick. I see this all the time on Youtube, where some ignorant little kid who probably lives to play Green Day on his Squier starts going "ZOMG U USE PIK U NOT GOOD"

    It's ridiculous. I use both my fingers and a pick, depending on the song, and honestly, I think using a pick takes just as much skill as fingerstyle.
  13. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Oct 20, 2004
    I think it takes more skill to do it well. Many players don't have very good technique in general, but you can get away with it playing with your fingers on bass, since that usually implies simple parts.

    So when someone like Jaco, Stanley Clarke, Jeff Berlin, or any number of good bass players come along, it seems out of place... yet guitar players that can play very fast are a dime a dozen!

    Bass is a bit more physically demanding, as the notes are farther apart and the strings have more mass, but it should be played just like any other stringed instrument.

    I've always been into bass players that are up front, staring with Jack Bruce when he was in Cream, and then players like Chris Squire and Ray Shulman. For me, I wanted to play like John McLaughlin, but on bass, because I had never heard anyone play like him back when I first heard him in 1972. I figured I had something new until Clarke came along! :eek:
  14. To address a couple of things:

    1) So pick or fingers, I don't get the net answer here.
    2) "it should be played just like any other stringed instrument." Stringed instruments were normally played with fingers or bows :meh:
    3) "Jack Bruce when he was in Cream" Fingers
    4) "Jaco, Stanley Clarke, Jeff Berlin" fingers, fingers, etc.
    5) You don't need to use a pick to sound like John Mclaughlin on bass...you just need a hybrid pop/pluck and the right setup to get the attack.
    6) What was your point, cause I got lost?
  15. I actually chipped the paint on my bass with the top of my fingers because I use flamenco strumming to do chords, and need no "plucking device".
  16. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Oct 20, 2004
    You got lost, because you didn't read what I wrote...

    I didn't say any of them play with a pick. I was reffering to playing fast, which more guitar players can do than bass players, regardless to how they pluck the strings.

    I'm not sure how you would plan on playing that fast and popping the strings. All you need to do is pluck hard, the way Stanley does.

    Back when I played with a pick I learned to pick strongly to get the attack. When I switched to my fingers I worked on getting the same attack. I hate when I hear bass players that sound blurry. I'm not talking about legato phrasing, I'm talking about weak plucking, resulting in indistinct notes.

    There was a discussion about this on the BottomLine mailing list once, with one member saying you should pluck as softly as you can, because plucking hard stops you from playing fast... which I say is nonsense.

    You get better tone plucking harder and if you have the chops can play fast that way too. Playing soft has its place, but I like to have the notes pop out. I want to hear every note clearly.

    I made this sample at the time to demonstrate the difference in tone with plucking soft and hard. Here's the clip... It's quick and sloppy but gets the point across. I compressed the signal to make the levels even. This is harder than I normally pluck, but it proved that plucking hard doesn't stop you from playing fast. I'm usually someone in the middle. This is all with fingers, no pick.

    Plucking Example

    I mostly play with my fingers these days, but I played exclusively with a pick for about 20 years. During that time I strived at not sounding like a pick, just like a bass. I even developed a pick and pop technique for slapping. (we called it popping back then).

    I still think some things are easier with a pick, like cross picking the way Robert Fripp does it. I find it harder to jump across stings rapidly with my fingers.
  17. SherpaKahn


    Dec 1, 2005
    Bronx, NYC
    I dunno about "better" tone, but 'different', sure. With the right setup and EQ, you can make it sound good to dig in or to play with a light touch. Entwistle and Jack Bruce had very different sounds, one played lightly, the other dug in, and they both sound good to my ears. Very different, but good for what they are. If you've got the amplification and the hand control to hear yourself doing it, try playing softly, then try digging in; what ever you like more, just do it.

    It's the same with pick vs. fingerstyle vs. slap and pop; Invariably it's possible to make any of them sound good, so just do what sounds good in the situation. I don't mean to sound snobby, but it apalls me how much of a pissing contest this thread is. There are some good meaningful comments here and there, but honestly, people: There's more than one way to eat a Reese's.


    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.

    I use fingers and a pick and some time at the same time so where does that put me(and I'm not being sarcastic).
  19. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    A glitch in the Matrix!

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.


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