Using a pick

Today is day ten for me as a bass player. Surprisingly, I haven’t received any calls from rock bands to go on tour with them. (Just kidding)

I believe I"m making progress. I can play scales in a variety of different places on the fret board using all five fingers (albeit rather slow). I’m learning to find where every note is on the fret board, and I’m learning to read music. Josh’s very entertaining and informative lessons have been a big help in developing technique… which leads to my question.

Although I don’t have a problem plucking with the index and middle finger, I have discovered that I’m more comfortable using a pick… a wee bit faster too. I don’t want to paint myself into a corner by becoming proficient with a pick, only to learn down the line that I should have focused on finger plucking. But I want to go from Beginner to Bad-Ass regardless of the technique.

I’ve seen YouTube videos of some really fierce bass players using a pick. What’s everyone’s opinion on me following in this direction?

Future Bad-Ass Bass Player

Pam

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I think Josh addresses this best in the video attached at about… 9:23 or so…
Check it out.
Both are great, but certainly learn both, and certainly learn that fingerstyle!

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Yeah I’ve seen that before, good stuff. Yeah I practice both ways so I’ll see how it shakes out. Thanks for the response.

Pam

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Good plan!

Anecdotally, my favorite bass player uses a pick, and maybe a third of my other top bass shredding idol-heroes do too, and I used one when I first learned a bit of bass years ago - but surprisingly I think I am actually faster plucking now, after only a few months in on this go-around with the bass. Pick is faster on single or adjacent strings for me but the moment I need to jump a couple strings I am way faster plucking. I’m also more accurate time-wise on a single string with plucking. I would not have expected that (though the last bit is probably due to the relative amounts of recent practice time.)

Love the sound of a pick with a chorus+reverb pedal though.

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I’m happiest with a pick and shredding. But, there’s not a lot of call for that out there in the real world (the one I’m in). Most of my real world work on the bass has involved finger pluckage, dub, ska, blues and pub rock. As I’ve got older and the Punk gigs have died off so has the amount of pick work. However, I’ve always got a choice selection on me and they’re always in my case, just in case…

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Hey @PamPurrs, my bias will alway be towards fingerstyle, but pick playing is awesome too! I really think everybody should learn fingerstyle either way though because

  • Even when a pick is awesome, you can get away with using your fingers
  • If you use a pick when you should be using fingers… it sounds awful

So fingers feels more “essential” for being a versatile player, but definitely pursue both if you’re feeling it! And I’d encourage you to pick between them based on the sound that comes out, not just how it feels. And you’ll get a better ear for that with time - see if you can hear whether songs have fingerplucked or picked bass on them!

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After posting this question three months ago (and now with three months of finger plucking under my belt), I just finished Module 16 lesson 1, in which Josh gives a brief lesson on picking. After I finished the lesson, I laid my pick atop the amp, sat in the recliner, and sipped on a beer while I contemplated whether or not I like playing with a pick.
When I returned to practice, I discovered that my dog had gotten hold of the pick and chewed it up. I guess she’s trying to tell me something! (Don’t tell Lucy, but I’ve got a whole plastic sack full of picks.)
I think I’ll just stick to finger plucking until such a time that the situation calls for a pick.

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HAAAA I love this.

The great thing is, you don’t have to “pick,” it’s a technique that can be added to your arsenal without replacing anything. Personally I have used picks on gigs and in the studio, and I love it, but I’m not particularly amazing at it.

I don’t tend to teach picking in detail to beginners because:
a) there are better pick players than I (who I should recruit to do a Beginner to Pickass course someday :stuck_out_tongue:)
b) I think everybody should be able to competently play fingerstyle, even if they want to primarily use a pick. Sometimes, a pick just don’t sound right.

But, picks are awesome, and it would be foolish to turn one’s nose up at all the amazing bass players who have used them, and all the great tones they’ve given us. Like this nastiness -

And funkiness -

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@PamPurrs - Why not use both? When I play my banjo I use finger picks on all 5 of my fingers. When I went through the B2B course and got to the pick section I just slipped on my thumb pick. Since I’m a finger plucker when playing bass and acoustic guitar, I do like to experiment with my bass by slipping in a picked note every now and again. The thumb pick works pretty good for me when ever I need it, and still allows me to keep my thumb securely anchored for plucking… Whatever works…

Keep on Thumpin’!
Lanny

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yeah totally agree with this point of view, the pick gives a different sound and, most importantly, a different feel to the instrument. I think it’s always a good thing to know how to use it.

I love to play with a pick : I love the distinctive agressive attack, it fits pretty well the musical style I play and it’s easier for me. but I love finger plucking too, and I happen to naturally play very different lines depending on the fact I use a pick or not. that’s interesting, always a good thing to have multiple choices and playing techniques I think !

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And what about these?? :joy:

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@joergkutter - :laughing: “Innovation” - The word MUST have been created by a bassist…:grinning:

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Yeah, that sounds reasonable, @Lanny, but these also look just a little ridiculous, so you better pull it off 100% if you go on stage with them :rofl:

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