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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. then you alternate between the two. its like a sine curve, sometimes you are at 1, sometimes -1, and sometimes somewhere in between
  2. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    Do you have an actual explanation as to why you feel picks are bad on a bass?
  3. That's funny.

    I didn't know Yes, Led Zeppelin, Faith No More, Tool, Pink Floyd, Metallica, The Who, Guns 'n Roses, Alice in Chains, Aerosmith, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Mars Volta, Motorhead, Megadeth, and U2 were all bands that were either punk/emo, or their bassists weren't talented enough to play fingerstyle(which many of them played both styles)

    ...then there are the talentless fools that play pickstyle almost 100% of the time, such as Chris Squire, from Yes.

    I wish my eyes could hear as well as yours, cause I just have my ears to trust for that.
  4. That alone surely makes you much better than a pickstyle player, right?

    So tell me, if I learn to play with my feet, will I sound any better than you?

    .... cause the last time I checked, music is about sound, not snobbery.
  5. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Oct 20, 2004
    That's just closed minded nonsense. What kind of music do you listen do anyway?

    How about the famous jazz bass player Steve Swallow? He plays with a copper pick. He started on upright, so he knows how to use his fingers.

    Then we have Anthony Jackson, you know who he is right? He invented the 6 string contrabass. He played with a pick exclusively for many years. All those fusion tracks he did with Al DiMeola he used a pick on, as well as the famous track "For The Love Of Money" by The O'Jays.

    Jackson had this to say about playing with a pick in a 1990 interview in Bass Player:

    “Casady, whom I'd first heard on the Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow album in late 1966, had a big, rich, metallic sound with a full bottom and a curious, guitaristic way of playing that I was immediately drawn to. When I saw him perform live, I was struck by his dignity and serious mien.”

    “It was Casady's sound that kept me exploring the expressive possibilities of using the pick. To this day, when I use one and a flanger, Casady's influence emerges and can be clearly detected by an aficionado.”

    Then we have Chris Squire and Ray Shulman, two of the best bass players in progressive rock.

    Then we have Joe Osborn and Carol Kaye. Look them up.

    You are too young to know anything about these players, and that's the problem. You need to get off your attitude that you know it all.... you never know it all. You may not need anyone to teach you how to play, but you also may not be learning things the right way either. You want to talk about classical thump? I started playing in 1969 when all the basses came with flat wounds and a foam rubber mute. That's how you played it back then. The Fender bass was made to be played with a pick... it's a bass guitar. That's why it had covers over the strings to rest your picking hand, and the finger grip under the strings... useless if you are playing with your fingers.

    You still need picking hand coordination to play with a pick properly. In fact many people find it harder since they can't feel the strings with their picking hand. I'm not talking about all down strokes like a punk bassist uses. That is one way to play, but is limiting and not in my opinion, proper picking technique.

    I have plenty of "fingering hand coordination" and I play with both. I also don't play punk/emo.

    Anyone who plays a bass is a real bass player. The rest is just bigotry.
  6. This thread has really opened my eyes.I only play fingerstyle and for years now whenever we have played with another band whose bassist used a pick,I for the most part didn'y pay much attention to them.Granted,most were the stare at the neck,use 1 finger and hold the pick in a death-grip, rigid wrist playing sort,but after reading thru these posts,maybe I'll start giving the pickers a chance
  7. gjooro


    Mar 27, 2006
    This is getting stupid.
    Play with anything you want. Just play, don't be on internet discusing some stupid questions. And cut that "Stanley this, Stanley that, Jaco does this.............and all over again.......
  8. Anthrax


    Oct 1, 2006
    use to be a finger player, i think i never used a pick for around 2 years. then i changed to pick, and i barly used fingers.

    now its 75% pick, 25% fingers.
  9. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Oct 20, 2004
    Jaco doesn't do anything anymore...

    And players change all the time... John Paul Jones used to use his fingers... now he uses a Pick. Pino Paladino was well known for playing fretless... now he plays mostly fretted. Players grow and change.

    And I agree! Just play your bass... if you want, pick your bass... heck even pick your nose! :D
  10. Tired_Thumb

    Tired_Thumb Guest

    I pick my nose with my fingers. Where does that put me? :bag:

    Jokes aside, I was playing pick primarily for about six months now due to the need for increased dexterity at high speeds, but now I'm using some sort of tremolo strumming with my thumb that's actually working even better for me now, and it frees me up to do more tapping, fingerstyle, and some flap bass (my lame version of slap bass, "cuz 1 suK!!!"). That said, don't expect me to sell my pick collection anytime soon. The pick still has that unique metallic sound that's pretty brutal, inefficient, and unpractical for me to replicate with my fingers. Wait, I'm using big meaningless words now? Okay, I'd better stop.
  11. Vypor


    Oct 12, 2006
    Little Rock, AR
    I dident really take the time to read all 15 pages of this before posting, so forgive me if I say somthing taht someones already said.

    I play Slap, fingerstyle, and pick. I have written some songs that in fact, ill alternate between the three at differnt parts of the song.

    The first year I started playing bass I was strictly a fingerpicker, thats what cliff burton did and thats what I was gonna do.

    Then I just decided to give picks a try, you'd be surpised. Using a guitar pick gets really annyoing on bass, but get yourself a couple dunlop 3.0mm Big Stubbys and playing with a pick becomes a whole lot more fun.

    It also depends on what kind of music your playing, if your playing speed metal and thrashing away at your bass, then your probably better off using a pick, if your playing classic rock and just hitting root notes, your best bets probably finger picking.

    Everyone has thier own unique style of playing, and listining. You can define a "true bass player" by the way he picks his strings. Thats like saying that your not a true gamer becuase you perfer the ps2 over the xbox, or like saying that an artist isnt a real artist becuase they would rather use a pen then a pencil.

    Its all about the way YOU play, so give everything a try before you go off critiszing other people for how they play.
  12. mellofello


    Mar 10, 2006
    Think a pick is faster ??

    watch this http://youtube.com/watch?v=M8hKjYg-FDg

    I would strongly encourage those of you who only use a pick to practice without a little everytime you practice. When I started I used a pick a lot cuz I could play faster with one. I'm still pretty slow with my index and middle finger, but found that I can play fast by alternating thumb, index, thumb, middle. Or any combination . My fingers are so hard and calloused I actually get more of a picking sound with my fingers than I do with a pick ( but only if I want to ). Sure I still use a pick for certain tunes, but it's a tool in my arsenal, it's not the arsenal. I really think the best thing is to practice at least half the time without a pick, but I realize when you are doing everything you want to do with a pick that is hard to do.
  13. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Oct 20, 2004
    I think for certain things a pick is faster.

    Obviously Victor agrees, because he is using his thumb like a pick. He says right in there that what he is doing with his thumb is "identical to using a guitar pick"... so it's the same technique and advantages as you get using a pick. Bernard Edwards played this way... he was a guitar player that switched to bass when he formed Chic, and didn't want to use a pick, but that's how he knew how to play. He didn't pluck with his fingers, he held his hand like he had a pick... only he didn't. He used the side of his thumb and index fingers.

    So Wooten is using plectrum technique, only without a plectrum. If you want to hear really fast playing with regular two finger plucking, listen to Stanley Clarke and Jeff Berlin.

    I can play very fast with index and middle fingers. Personally I dislike that banjo roll picking style you are talking about, and I don't need to do stuff like that. I guess I'm old school... or just old! :D

    I can play slightly faster with a pick than my fingers, but that's not why I sometimes use a pick. It's either for the tone or as I said some musical passages are easier with a pick. For example, for me, I can play something like Teen Town better with a pick. I find those first seven notes (the octave jump) tricky at that speed with my fingers, I have to use my thumb and index... but for more linear playing, fingers are fine.

    The important thing to keep in mind is that every one is different. Some things are easier for some to play than others, just based on your physiology. People tend to play things that are easy for them, and they expound on that.
  14. I voted that I use both. I play probably 70 / 30 with finger style being the greater. Some songs however work better with a pick. I figured I might as well learn both so that im not limiting myself
  15. Vypor


    Oct 12, 2006
    Little Rock, AR
    Thats intresting that you say you can make the same sound using your fingers as you can using a pick.

    Im curious as to how, the only way i could think of would be to riase your action as high as you could, and play towards the bottom near the bridge. still, I wouldnt be able to do that as I play a 5 string and I imagine that you'd have to pluck really hard to get that kind of attack and I'd probably just get a buncha rattle lol.

    I started out just playing with my fingers and got really good with it before I started using a pick. Which I really think is important becuase it does give you a sense of rhythm.

    Thats just how I see it though, when im trying to groove or just write somthing that flows together really smooth ill finger pick, but when im shredding and thrashing around the pick is the only way to go.

    I think the reason most people dont like picks is becuase it takes a really long time to get use to playing with one, you have to create that insticnt in your fingers where each and every string is so you can play what you want without looking.

    if anyone knows what im talking about?
  16. yaniv


    Oct 26, 2006
    heck,just do what feels comfortable and sounds good
    i just use pick when i want to have a pick sound
    fingernails cant even imitate pick sound,they're too felxible and can break
    i dont care about the speed,i play 32th notes in both fingerpicking and pick
  17. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Oct 20, 2004
    You don't have to raise your action, you just have to pluck the string at the right angel. You dont want to strike the string down toward the front of the bass and make a slapping noise... pluck it from the top and more sideways (your finger being more perpendicular to the top of the bass). Probably easier to see than to explain.

    I like to pluck pretty hard, because I had gotten used to the attack from playing with a pick, and I pick pretty hard... well I used to anyway. I play a lot lighter now, but still not soft. I think the notes sound better plucked with some force.

    Stanley Clarke used to raise his action very high when he slapped. He said when he recorded Silly Putty, his action was so high that he though "oh oh, how am I going to play this way!" You can even hear he's fumbling a little!

    For funk type playing, fingers work better, if for no other reason as you are playing in a style that was invented playing finger style. It can be done with a pick, but I don't think the notes have quite the same "burp". I use my fingers for this type of thing.

    Playing with a pick is tricky at first because you have a layer of abstraction, as it were, between your hand and the strings. You can't directly feel the strings, so it's a bit harder to get hand to string coordination happening at first. Then you have to practice double picking and cross picking, otherwise you are doing all down strokes, and you might as well be plucking with just your index finger.

    The key to playing with a pick, is to hold the pick firmly, but not too tight, as that makes your hand cramp up. I use my thumb and both my index and middle fingers to hold the pick. All picking motion is from the wrist.

    Lately I tend to pick right over the fingerboard for the Steve Swallow tone, but I used to pick much closer to the bridge, where the strings are stiffer.
  18. gjooro


    Mar 27, 2006
  19. No, I just like the way it sounds.

    (the 2nd song, after 4 minutes)
  20. GreatHype


    Oct 11, 2006
    I'll use a pick sometimes but I really don't like the sound of it when I'm playing the E string.

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