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why is picking faster then plucking

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by toycopbassist, Jul 8, 2001.

  1. toycopbassist


    Aug 12, 2000
    ok i play with my fingers and play punk music but all the punk bassist i see use a pick and i wanna know why? is it that much faster? i mean i can play Pennywise "fight till you die" with my finger pretty fast but all i hear is picking is faster?
    i was just bothering me so any insight into my world of dumbness will help me decide to learn how to pick or not to pick. thanks
  2. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    Picking is NOT faster than plucking. I double dare you in a speed competition. I've been using three fingers for about 15 years and each one of my three fingers are individually faster than your pick.......ssssssssssSmokin'!
  3. yeah, but if you'd been practicing with a pick for that long too, it would be faster.
  4. NightVampZ


    Jun 22, 2001
    I hear that sometimes, but for me, I can not play with a pick. Well, I can play really slow and medium, but for really fast things, I have to use my fingers... I use 2 of them and it works great for me.

  5. Dave Castelo

    Dave Castelo

    Apr 19, 2000
    i think the speed is not the problem...

    both pick and fingers can be fast...

    but i think you spend much more energy with fast fingering than fast picking...

    also your fingers are gonna suffer (if you are not used to it).

    that´s why we bassist can´t be narrow minded about pick vs finger... i still refuse to use pick on most songs but i have to accept that some songs are really difficult (or near impossible) to pull off with fingers (mostly in punk songs, besides punk bass sound is generally a pick sound).

    my .02 USD
  6. The Navigator

    The Navigator

    May 17, 2001
    Tucson, AZ
    speed wise, I'm willing to bet a large amount of cash that the five fastest pluckers are almost twice as fast as the five fastest pickers.

    Not that speed is everything, mind you. And everyone has their own style. But for me, plucking is infinitely more versatile than plucking. Plus I never have to worry about buying/running out of/being laughed at because I use/ picks
  7. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I seriously doubt that there are speed advantages in either technique.
    Not being able to play something speed- or otherwise is just a symptom of faulty technique, regardless if the technique used is picking or plucking.

    As for the bet:
    It would be a tie between Frank Gambale (guitar, pick) and maybe Bill Dickens (bass, fingers).
    Or pick any other players in that league - it'll still be a tie IMO.
    ...not that it would be of any musical significance.

    As for the fear of being the victim of being ridiculed by pick-haters or the jazz police, who cares! :D
  8. i think sound might have a lot to do with using a pick in punk music, or other genres as well. for some reason, it seems easy to dial in a cutting, percussive tone when using a pick.
  9. rob_d


    Jun 14, 2001
    I think the post above me from cephas hits this one. The whole pick thing I would imagine is a sound issue. In punk or other hard rock music a more percussive clicky sound is desired as the notes are attacked. In fast repetitive eigth note patterns which is mainly what punk is this clicking almsot might be a compliment to the drums. this might be overanalyzing but that's probably the issue. Let's not forget too, that a lot of bass players are former guitar players that switched over for one reason or another. When they pick up the new instrument the pick is natural to them so that's what they use.
  10. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    It's all in the attack, not the speed. There are guitarists who can pick 32nd notes, and I'm sure they could pick pretty fast on a bass as well. If you're playin' faster than that, you're probably playin' too fast for the music;)

    The attack with fingers vs. picks is well noted. In fact, it technically changes how the bass guitar is classified: with a pick, the bass is considered a string instrument. With fingers, the bass is actually considered a percussion instrument.

    Fingers allow you more flexibility of attack but generally less consistent in the attack of each individual note. This can be controlled to some degree, with improved technique. Some people actually use their fingernails (a la Geddy Lee) to get a pick-like attack, but with their fingers...

    The variations are numerous, ultimately it's not a bad idea to learn both picking and plucking. But, it's whatever suits you best;)
  11. You lost me there...Whether I play the bass with my fingers or a pick, it's still sounds like a string instrument to me. Sure you can apply percussive techniques to the bass like phantom notes, left hand slapping, or strumming dead notes with a pick (raking?), but I don't see where using a pick qualifies the bass as a string instrument and using your fingers makes it a percussion instrument. Am I missing something?:confused:

    Anyway, as far as the original question goes. Using a pick or your fingers is definitely more about attack and sound then how many notes you can play. I've been playing guitar for years (mainly with a pick) and bass for years (mainly with my fingers) and I can still play the bass faster with my fingers than a pick. I'm sure if I focused on playing the bass more with a pick each technique would be about even but I don't think you have an advantage, as far as speed goes, one way or the other.;)
  12. Nah. It's a string instrument either way. You might as well argue that a violin magically turns into a percussion instrument when you play pizzicato.
  13. rob_d


    Jun 14, 2001
    I've never heard the "percussion vs. string" argument surrounding the bass..this is interesting. Usually it's the piano, percussion because mallets are used to play it(under the hood), and string because these mallets are hitting big ol' strings. Interesting argument.
  14. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    On JMX's and RAM's line of thought, most people can attack the same string with more repetitions in less time with a pick if you are using an alternating downstroke-upstroke method, (I'm ruling out tapping technique). I can "tickle" a string with many quick repetitions using my fingers, but I'm still faster with a thinner gauge pick.

    But when it comes to crossing across strings or runs, fingerstyle still smokes for me.
  15. Rockinjc


    Dec 17, 1999
    so is it the alternating down/upstroke thing or the plastic that makes you faster?

  16. theJello


    Apr 12, 2000
    RAM. Are you serious?
    Play with a pick and bass is a string instrument?!
    Play with your fingers and bass is a percussion instrument?!
    Sorry I dont normally attack people but that is the stupidest most uninformed thing I have ever heard here.

    If you are just kidding, good joke:D
  17. Picking to me is for the stuff where i stay on one string for a while, my fingers dont get tired that way(this doesnt mean i'm just playing the root note over and over). But for the stuff where i'm in between strings a lot i go for the finger style. its not so tough to get rid of that clicky noise with my stingray either, i know that annoys lots of people, me too thats why i boost the bass, cut the treble, do what i please with the mids, and then it kind of gets rid of that click
  18. toycopbassist


    Aug 12, 2000
    ok so i guess for punks songs i should use a pick so then how do i use it correctly. i have tried to play with a pick before and it was totaly unnatural feeling and i felt like i had no feel as to were i was with it and it bothered me so i just threw the damn thing away. Is there a way to make it easer or do i just gotta practice with it. Also what kind of pick do i use a thick one or thin because i have'nt got a clue.

    thanks for any help
  19. rob_d


    Jun 14, 2001
    If it feels unnatural to you don't feel you have to use it. Just because a lot of punk bass players use picks doesnt mean you have to. If finger style works better for you then do it. If you feel you must play with a pick, then yes practice will get rid of the unnatural feeling. I think you're over thinking this whole thing. Don't worry so much about what youre using to play your bass, worry about getting better at playing it. I can't recommend a pick style as I've never played with one myself.
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well, with my fingers and thumb I can do simultaneous double stops involving playing notes on the B and G strings at the same time or E and G etc - you can't get faster than simultaneous and you can't do that with a pick!! ;)

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