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  • Fingers and Picks

    Way back, I sang and played guitar. I usually played with my bare hand. Joined a band as lead singer, but we couldn't find a bass player. We already had two guitarists, so guess who got drafted?

    I don't know why I played bass with a pick, when I played guitar without, but I did. More volume, I think. Anyway, so it went. I played and sang in several bands. Sometimes people told me I should play with my fingers instead of a pick. But it wasn't until I joined my first professional band, back in the disco years, that it ever really mattered. They fired me. I wasn't funky enough, which, to them, meant that I played with a pick instead of my fingers.

    In later bands, I did both. I remember buying picks, and I remember getting blisters on my fingers. Some songs called for one approach, some for another. Eventually, I stopped using the pick entirely.

    Recently, I've been playing with a classic rock outfit. We were working on "The Boys Are Back In Town". I could play Phil's notes, but they didn't sound the same. Then I realized that Mr Lynott was using a pick. Of course! So I started using a pick on that song. Then we started doing "Rock and Roll All Night". Again, pick bass. That's cool.

    So, Thursday night, we hosted a jam session/open mic night. End of the night, We did Boys. I looked around and saw a pick on the floor, grabbed it and we started the song. Played it, then Rock and Roll All Night. After, Mark, one of the guitarists, asked, "Were you playing with my pick?"

    "Yep. Picked it up off the floor. same place I found my E-Bow I lent you!"

    So, what's the point of all this? They really loved the sound with the pick. They want me to play with a pick more often. This ever happen to anyone else?
    "The Web puts all of the world's knowledge at our fingertips; unfortunately it's mixed with all of the world's bull****************."
    -- Bob Parks

    "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."
    -- Oscar Wilde

    "No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true."
    -- Oscar Wilde

    "It is a trap of history to believe that eyewitnesses remember accurately what they have lived through."
    -- Theodore White

  • #2
    Hasn't happened to me but I'm primarily a rhythm guitarist and I've always played with a pick but I was told years ago that you shouldn't play bass with one. But fairly recently I was playing bass with the praise band at church, filling in for our regular bass guy, and I realized the song needed to have the bass played with a pick. Now I'm waiting for another chance to play bass on the same song so I can use a pick.
    Official HCAG “Theory-Challenged Hack”
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    • #3
      You play with what sounds good for the song, imho. Being versatile is a good thing.
      HCBF Mesa Brigade Member #2

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      • #4
        Absolutely. It's just that, in my experience, some people have prejudices for or against certain styles of play. This is the first time, in some forty years of playing, that musicians have said they preferred a pick over fingers. The occasional audience member, yes, but not musicians.
        "The Web puts all of the world's knowledge at our fingertips; unfortunately it's mixed with all of the world's bull****************."
        -- Bob Parks

        "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."
        -- Oscar Wilde

        "No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true."
        -- Oscar Wilde

        "It is a trap of history to believe that eyewitnesses remember accurately what they have lived through."
        -- Theodore White

        Comment


        • #5
          I've always kept picks and fingers at the ready depending on the song and what tone it calls for. I think it's a part of the differences between just a bass player and a good bass player. Even more important than how many notes you can blast out or how you can cop Jaco licks is can you play the RIGHT thing for the song.

          Some tunes need subtle tubbiness, and fingers up over the bottom of the fretboard can coax those sweet tones, and some tunes need slap, so slappa da bass, and some rock songs need that growl, so growl away!

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          • #6
            Yeah, I'm not much good at the slap thing.
            "The Web puts all of the world's knowledge at our fingertips; unfortunately it's mixed with all of the world's bull****************."
            -- Bob Parks

            "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."
            -- Oscar Wilde

            "No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true."
            -- Oscar Wilde

            "It is a trap of history to believe that eyewitnesses remember accurately what they have lived through."
            -- Theodore White

            Comment


            • #7
              I switch back and forth all the time. For me its a matter of being able to play multiple notes, arpeggios etc. and adding quick rests between notes using my fingers.
              I can get faster speeds with a pick but I do use palm muting to create rests. I also use a thumb pick which combines both techniques. Which I choose is mainly
              centered around the musical arrangement, comfort level and getting the notes to sound right.

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              • #8
                I'm primarily a guitar fingerpicker, so when playing guitar I use a thumb pick (Fred Kelly speedpick). I use a finger pick on my middle finger due to a woodworking accident years ago (I lost 3/8" and made the fingernail grow weird). I also have acrylic nails on my index and ring fingers. When switching to bass, they sometimes make a clicking sound that just ain't right for the song. On those I use a felt pick. It gives a more finger like tone than the acrylic nails allow. It all just depends on the song.
                <div class="signaturecontainer"><font face="Times New Roman"><font size="4">&quot;A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammuntion&quot;- Rudyard Kipling</font></font></div>

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                • #9
                  Felt picks used to be real common. I don't even see them being sold much any more.
                  I only tried them a few times and found them too weird. I'd shred them in seconds the way I play now.

                  A big factor for me using fingers is the string winds. The last set I had on my bass were D'Addario's.
                  Between the string winds being so fat and the wrap materials being so rough and unpolished, I'd get blisters or worse within a single song.
                  The one set I even got metal splinters under the skin.

                  I don't especially care for flat or half wounds, so using strings that have finer winds is what I try to use now. The last set I put on were Labella's.
                  They arent much better than the D'Adarrio or Boomers I also use. I hate to go back to using DR's but I know their winds are much finer.
                  I dont have as much selection on the short scale strings though. I can use them on my long scale bases of course.

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                  • #10
                    As a guitar player, I much prefer the sound of a Bass played with the fingers.
                    Signal Chain<br>My Fingers - &gt; 13 Gauge Strings -&gt; Reverend Sensei -&gt; Ibanez TS9 - &gt; Keeley 2-Knob Compressor -&gt; Eventide Space Reverb - Pigtronix Infinity Looper -&gt; Fender Super Reverb (without reverb)

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                    • #11
                      ^^^ True but that's only if the guy has a consistent attack and doesn't stumble over notes. I know many a bass player who would be better off using a pick.

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                      • #12
                        Surprise gig tonight. I doubt I'll be using a pick.

                        A band was scheduled for a local watering hole - Cloud and Kelly's Public House - but broke up. The opening act has a few friends of ours in it, so they asked us to fill in. Short notice, but that sort of thing happens sometimes. Small room, too, but I'll be taking my Sunn Model 215 bass cabinet anyway. After all, the footprint isn't much bigger than a smaller cab, it's just taller.
                        "The Web puts all of the world's knowledge at our fingertips; unfortunately it's mixed with all of the world's bull****************."
                        -- Bob Parks

                        "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."
                        -- Oscar Wilde

                        "No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true."
                        -- Oscar Wilde

                        "It is a trap of history to believe that eyewitnesses remember accurately what they have lived through."
                        -- Theodore White

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          ^^^ Bass doesn't have to be overly loud, it just has to sound big.
                          Last edited by WRGKMC; 05-08-2014, 03:52 PM.

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                          • #14
                            And it did indeed sound big. The band sounded good, but there was hardly anyone there to hear it. Thursday night, short notice.
                            "The Web puts all of the world's knowledge at our fingertips; unfortunately it's mixed with all of the world's bull****************."
                            -- Bob Parks

                            "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."
                            -- Oscar Wilde

                            "No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true."
                            -- Oscar Wilde

                            "It is a trap of history to believe that eyewitnesses remember accurately what they have lived through."
                            -- Theodore White

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Nope, no picks last night. Bass rig sounded great, though.
                              "The Web puts all of the world's knowledge at our fingertips; unfortunately it's mixed with all of the world's bull****************."
                              -- Bob Parks

                              "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."
                              -- Oscar Wilde

                              "No man dies for what he knows to be true. Men die for what they want to be true, for what some terror in their hearts tells them is not true."
                              -- Oscar Wilde

                              "It is a trap of history to believe that eyewitnesses remember accurately what they have lived through."
                              -- Theodore White

                              Comment

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