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Why do some bass lines call for picking? Can they be played with fingers instead?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by megatron, Aug 11, 2003.

  1. megatron


    Jul 9, 2003
    I notice some bass lines are noted as being played with a pick. Can these lines be played with the fingers? Is there a difference? Thanks.
  2. The difference is largely in the sound and feel. If you have a line played with a pick you want to cop with the fingers or the other way round, it's almost always possible to get away with it.

    Exceptions might be lines which involve chunky palm-muting patterns which really have to be attacked with the pick to work as intended, or intricate artificial harmonic lines that are impossible to pull off holding a pick without the addition of a few right hand fingers.

    Bottom line - play it with whatever you feel like, if you can.
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    when you play with a pick it sounds different than with playing your fingers. there's generally a cleaner, sharper attack. the basslines are probably noted to be played with a pick because that's how the bassist recording the song did it. if you can play it with your fingers and you want to, go for it. ramones songs are all played with a pick but it's more fun for me to play em with my fingers so i do. i've never heard anyone complain.

    also, some songs are a lot easier to play with a pick - chili peppers parallel universe for example. paying with fingers can get pretty tiresome.
  4. ClarkW


    Aug 1, 2003
    Provo, UT. USA
    Playing the bass line to a song like "Every Breath You Take" just won't sound right without picking and palm muting it. Sometimes, you have to do it a particular way to execute the passage, and other times it's just easier to do it one way or another (I don't pick jazz bass lines, but I often pick rock bass lines).