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#1
I've always played fingerstyle, but need some help with picking technique. Anyone out there w/ mad bass skills for your average bass player.
Aaron
#2
You hit the strings with a pick.

Cynicism aside, pickscrapes can sound amazing (refer to Romantic Rights-Death From Above 1979).

I use medium thickness plectrums. Too hard and it hurts, too soft and it sounds like you're stroking the strings.
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Last edited by Notoriousdoc at Jan 24, 2007,
#3
And let the pick vs. finger posts wars begin!

Ok, seriously. I am a little ahead of you on this but not by much. I am trying to expand my skill set to learn to pick as well as fingerstyle as well. My pieces of advice are:

1. Try out a few types and thicknesses of picks to find one that works for you. Very important.
2. Start out slow and easy. I started doing my scale warm up exercises with a pick and have been slowly building up speed. Astronomy Domine Pink Floyd) is a good bass line to practice beginning picking skills with when you find scales and other exercises mind numbing. Most Punk songs are also played with a pick, so there's tons of practice material in that genre as well.
3. Keep your picking hand relaxed as possible. I played too tight when picking at first and it hampered my progress.

I'd be interested in hearing from other pick players as well. When I will remain predominately a fingerstyle player, it is an area, like the threadstarter, I'd like to build some skill in.
#4
You hit the strings with a pick like strumming a guitar. When playing guitar, you generally don't move your arm up and down much for single lead notes, but on bass, you want to move your arm and wrist significantly to hit the string making a full, deep, punch.

any more questions, let me know :]
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#5
I found that most bog standard guitar picks break pretty easy, especially the really brittle plastic type. If you like prefer flat picks I say go for Jim Dunlop nylon ones (I used to use the 1mm black ones). My pick of choice is the Jim Dunlop Stubby Triangle 3mm, lovely shade of purple. They're rock hard and suitably curved to allow for super fast tremolo picking and the like. They last as well. The only downside is they can escape from sweaty fingers if you're not careful.
#6
all you need to know ablout playing with a pick: listen to Chris Squire of Yes
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#7
Its not hard at all really. Just get a pick (I use Fender California Clears-Hard in shell pink ) and hold it the way you think will work and is comfortable. Then Trial and Error it until it works. When trying it out, play an easy song or scales like Anarkee said. Best I got. Im not to good at this kind of thing...
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#8
I am quite experienced with pickstyle, and I play it almost exclusively. I have quite a lot to say on the matter.

First off, I think pick playing has a lot to do with clarity. If that's the case, I recommend you invest in a set of stainless steel strings. They are a bit of a shock to the left hand (they are quite grabby), but they sound so much brighter and clearer.

Secondly, I think string gauge is directly proportional to pick thickness. I use 105-85-70-50 strings (medium gauge) and 2mm picks. In my opinion, any pick lighter than 2mm has too much give, therby getting 'caught' on the string, slowing me down. 2mm picks have no give at all. I feel lighter gauge strings have too much give as well, which has the same effect as a light pick. Therefore, I suggest you use heavy gauge stainless steel strings and a heavy pick.

Thirdly, WHERE on the string you pick is THE most important part of the sound. Traditionally, most pick players play by the bridge (listen to Chris Squire or Roger Waters to hear how it sounds). This gives a brighter, trebly sound, but has much less low end (especially on neck-pickup basses, like a Precision). In my opinion, the 'sweet spot' of pick playing lies between the neck pickup of a Jazz bass and the bottom of the fretboard. The pick gives a nice treble snap, and the location of the pick still retains a very deep, thick low end. Strings are more taut nearer to the bridge (which helps with light gauge strings/picks), but, with a thick pick and set of strings, this isn't an issue.

Fourthly, the gauge of your pick has a large effect on the sound, too. Picks with give (i.e. less than 2mm) sound like "thuh, thuh" when you hit the string (or a "tick, tick" on even lighter strings). Thick picks sound like "duh, duh" (whereas fingers sound like "buh, buh" and on fretless, "mwah, mwah"). I really prefer the sound of a thick pick.

Fifthly, I have a note about scaling: when learning fingerstyle, you are always told to ALWAYS alternate fingers, left right left right. Regardless if you are jumping strings, never break that pattern. With a pick, you want to do just the opposite. Here's an example:

You want to do any random scale, with 3 notes of the scale per string. Fingerstyle, you would hit the first string Right Left Right, the second string Left Right Left, the third string Right Left Right, and the fourth string Left Right Left. With a pick (which has upstrokes and downstrokes instead of left fingers and right fingers), you want to minimize the actual amount of strumming. On the third note (if you're doing a scale starting on the E and ending on the G) of a string, you want to hit the first note of the next string with the same movement as the third note of the previous string. Therefore, pickstyle, you would want to hit the first string Down Up Down (and then down to the first note on the next string), the second string Down (the same stroke as the last stroke of the previous string) Up Down (next string), the third string Down (from the second string) Up Down (next string), et cetera. Going from G to E, you would do Up, Down, Up. When playing things with less/more than 3 notes per string, you want to start picking in the direction that will allow you to go to the next string with the same pick direction that you hit the last note with.

This is really only applicable if you are playing very fast passages. If you are playing slower stuff, constantly alternating shouldn't cause a problem.

That's a lot to soak in at once, but if you keep these things in mind, you'll be a great pick-player in no time.
#9
I'm not gonna repeat what has been said before

But I've found reading some of the guitar articles on how to pick properly (i.e. Economy Picking) is very helpful too.
#10
Hmm...yeah just as with EVERYTHING else on bass, if you do it enough it'll just hit you one day. Just keep practicing and one day you'll find yourself doing it right.

I was a pretty devoted fingerstyle player, but a couple years ago I was at a practice in my old guitarists basement, in the middle of a Michigan winter and it was COOOLD!! my right hand fingers just quit. So I borrowed a pick and goofed around, and got pretty good at it. Then I heard Chris Squire and Jesse Keeler and practiced my picking to death. I do about as much picking as I do fingerstyle nowadays. I use Dunlop Tortex .60mm and .73mm picks. I used to use the blue 1.0mm ones, but despite their tone they wore me out on speed. So I switched to a lighter pick and compensated with a dose of EQ. I also hold my bass about Jaco height, so the lighter gauge was easier on my shoulder and arm. If you hold it lower you can probably get away with a heavier pick.
"Comedy's a dead art form. Now tragedy, that's funny." -Bender Bending Rodriguez
#11
Quote by chase312
You hit the strings with a pick like strumming a guitar. When playing guitar, you generally don't move your arm up and down much for single lead notes, but on bass, you want to move your arm and wrist significantly to hit the string making a full, deep, punch.

any more questions, let me know :]


only if your name is pete wentz

firstly you are gonna want a 1mm thick nylon pick because plastic breaks to easy and anything thinner is too softer and anything thicker is just overkill

you want to be moving your wrist not your whole forearm and u want to aim for a smooth alternate picking motion

for any really agressive parts you will want to bring your forearm into play but not much and only use downstrokes. peace out
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#12
It's all in the wrist. I hope I never have to say that again.
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#13
Practice drumming techniques with pics to get more expressive rythms. Liek triplets:
up down up* down up down* up down up*
*=accent this note

Or the paralellagrams:
up down up up down up down down up down up up

Also, this is the Bass pic I use:
http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Fender-Triangle-Guitar-Picks?sku=110510


Yes they are huge and thick. Probably thicker than most other Bass Pics. This probably the only real exeption to all these other guys rule. They are really really different. You have to try these thigns atleast once!
#17
thefitz pretty much covered this with the accuracy of rainman but one more tip is to kill two birds with one stone if you can't read sheet music pick up a beginner book and start reading the music with a pick so you get in pick practice and reading practice.
#18
Definetely get used to alternate picking. Up, down, up, down, etc. Then it comes naturally and you will be able to play very intricate fast lines. I prefer using fingers, but i say i'm quite good with a pick. I used 1.2mm pick and find its the right thickness.
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#19
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
thefitz pretty much covered this with the accuracy of rainman but one more tip is to kill two birds with one stone if you can't read sheet music pick up a beginner book and start reading the music with a pick so you get in pick practice and reading practice.


Hahaha sigged.
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#20
Quote by Doodleface
all you need to know ablout playing with a pick: listen to Chris Squire of Yes


He used a pick!?
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But only if you ride the tide
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Last edited by BassistGal at Mar 11, 2007,
#21
^Yeah, he used a pick, playing near the bridge.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#23
Yes, surprisingly he is my favourite bassist.

But his sound is so different then your usaul picking bassist's sound.
For long you live and high you fly
But only if you ride the tide
And balanced on the biggest wave
You race toward an early grave.


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#26
i never play bass without a pick - just sounds and feels and looks better. The attack of it feels alot more better to me. I use alternate picking but did tense up alot but am learning to relax a little. For great pick players check out Peter Hook, Simon Gallup and Carlos Dengler.
#27
Ironically, since this was first posted way back in the day, I've actually given up the pick. I'm a straight fingerplayer ever since I fell in love with that chest-thump of fingerstyle (and the active EQ to compensate for lost treble).
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#28
Quote by thefitz
Ironically, since this was first posted way back in the day, I've actually given up the pick. I'm a straight fingerplayer ever since I fell in love with that chest-thump of fingerstyle (and the active EQ to compensate for lost treble).


^ you don't always have to play fingers to have that chest-hitting feel. Cradle of Filth's bassist uses a pick and he has both that attack and the hard chest-hitting feel to it.
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#29
^ The way I have it set up, it sounds exactly like I want to. And besides, I always thought playing with fingers sounded 'faster' because of the millisecond of muting when your fingers hit the string, as opposed to the much faster attack of the pick. My pick playing got fast to a point where it sounded like I hit it once and let it ring... no definition. With fingers, I find that the notes separate nicely.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#30
Quote by thefitz
^ The way I have it set up, it sounds exactly like I want to. And besides, I always thought playing with fingers sounded 'faster' because of the millisecond of muting when your fingers hit the string, as opposed to the much faster attack of the pick. My pick playing got fast to a point where it sounded like I hit it once and let it ring... no definition. With fingers, I find that the notes separate nicely.


Actually it should be the complete opposite? The notes separate nicely because you beat the strings like a madman. I've always felt that the pick gives the notes better separation.
#31
Yeah, that was my initial feeling, too, but the way I attacked the pick, it was like the second note begins as soon as the first one ends, and when doing things like tremolo picking, it sounds all the same. As I developed fingerstyle better, I was able to minimize the separation enough for it to sound 'faster'.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#32
best string to pick on are flatwounds, at least, in my opinion, mostly because flatwounds and a pick were the original way to play bass, but I like it for sound not history, just whne I pick on roundwound it sounds fake and crappy to me.
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#33
^ Yeah, I recorded a track a few days back with flatwounds and a pick and it sounded great for that vintage feel. However, I don't think it applies to all music.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#35
If John Entwistle played with a pick I think it's good enough for anybody. Just learn as many techniques as possible so you aren't limited by what you cna and can't do.
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#36
Quote by sinan90
If John Entwistle played with a pick I think it's good enough for anybody. Just learn as many techniques as possible so you aren't limited by what you cna and can't do.


Yeah, for IMO THE best pick/Entwistle tone EVER, listen to the Who tune Sparks (the album version), or Underture (same riff, same album). If you're a real Who fan, listen to Rael... it's also that Sparks riff, but was release waaay before Tommy. I have a song that I play mainly palm muted picking on my 8-string.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#37
I love his live work as well where he'd keep switching between pick and fingers and then do his typewriter technique to get all these different sounds in 3 minutes. And his natural distorted tone is the greatest distortion tone of all time. I wish I had huge Marshall stacks that I could have on full volume
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#38
I use 1.14mm Dunlop Tortex picks, the same I use for guitar. Considering I've been playing bass for less then a month, it makes sense I use the same picks as when I play guitar.
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#39
Actually its good to learn how to use both types of playing cause theres stuff that you can do playing fingerstyle which you cant do with a pick and vise versa
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