Using a pick on a bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by BlackBassPlayer, Jan 4, 2005.

  1. BlackBassPlayer


    Jan 4, 2005
    This probly seems kinda stupid but....I cant seem to use a pick on a bass right. lol Is there like a certain way to do it? And are you suppose to stroke in a up and down motion or just down? When I use a pick it sounds all...eww.... because every time I use one the pick scratches against the strings and sounds bad. Any help on this would be appreciated.
  2. I find if it scratches against the string then getting a thinner pick helps. Some people love the thick arse bass picks, but i swear by picks used for classical (nylon) guitars, they make less sound and I can play much faster with them.

    As to the motion of picking, whatever you feel comfortable with works for the most part. I was a rhythm guitarist (specialising in chords rather than individual notes) so i generally go down up down up, sometimes I find myself using the DDUUDU rhythm, which buggers up the rhythm of the song a bit.
    But yes, whatever you feel is easiest, get your own personal style, THEN try adapting it and changing it.
  3. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    you'll probably get better results if you use a heavy pick... with a guitar you can get away with a light pick and letting your amp do the work... with pick on a bass you really have to mean every note to get it sounding convincing... you can't let your pick 'tickle' the string.. really give it a good solid pluck :)

    try picking nearer to the bridge to tighten up the sound, and maybe do what I do and rest your pinky across the strings to dampen any unwanted string ringing

    you probably don't need ALL downstrokes unless you're doing some ultra machine-like Metallica kinds of stuff... for most material alternate picking will usually be fine and far far easier than all downstrokes
  4. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    I spose the fact that we've just given totally opposite advice just shows that a lot of it is ultimately personal preference :)
  5. FriscoBassAce


    Dec 29, 2004
    Frisco, Texas
    Independent Manufacturers Representative
    I've played with a pick since I started playing bass. I'm now using my fingers more, but really prefer the pick for articulation. I think pick choice is a very personal choice....I would suggest going to the music store and buying one of each kind that appeals to you and trying each one out. I used to use very thick picks, but kept breaking strings with my aggressive picking. Now, I use Jim Dunlop Tortex Yellow .73 mm and these work great for me. I've used the nylon ones too and they are pretty cool too.

    As for the scratching sounds, check your hand position and make sure you're not striking the string at an angle. Hope this helps you Rock On!
  6. Muzique Fann

    Muzique Fann Howzit brah

    Dec 8, 2003
    Kauai, HI
    Just thought I'd share:
    somebody just gave me a hand blown glass pick the other day. not sure how it will effect the strings in the long run (if at all), but it sounds plenty funky.
  7. jim primate

    jim primate bass guitarist.

    i use brass picks. i don't know the exact thickness but they're stiff. i like them. they give kind of a chiming bell like overtone. my tone is bright anyway. i can do up strokes, down strokes and triplets with them. just takes practice.

    and as far as preference goes between fingers and a pick, i can do any line(that i write) with either method. for different tones i switch back and forth.
  8. Let me just say I'm very picky when it comes to picks. I used many different types of picks, even felt ones (when I first started playing). Out of all the picks that I've used, I found the Dunlop Totex Sharp picks to be the best tonewise. The Dunlop Nylon Jazz picks are good as well.
  9. BlackBassPlayer


    Jan 4, 2005
    Ok thanks for the advice guys. All the way up to now I have been playing only with my fingers and decided to try out picks to so I guess ill have to get praticing!
  10. I use a thin pick, turned around so the "fat" part of it actually strikes the string. Then, I bend the pick a little to give it a little more stiffness. You get a very different sound then just using a hard pick. I prefer the feeling over using a hard pick.. a very personal choice.

    When using a pick, the sound is very bright compared to finger, so I stay as far from the bridge as I can. Turning around the pick also helps to tame the brightness. And, as was already stated, I like to rest my pinky near the bridge, on the strings to slightly mute the strings for articulation.

    Good luck!

    - Andrew

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