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#879900 - 02/18/11 05:43 PM Bass players: pick or fingers? Both?  
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PopTodd Offline
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PopTodd  Offline
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As a guitar player who sometimes doubles/fills in on bass, I have a hard time playing with my fingers. So, you know, I use a pick. It's limiting, but I can still find the pocket and sit in there.

Then, there are a couple of friends of mine, who think that anyone who plays bass with a pick is basically going to hell. Or, at least they can go to hell for all they care. It's completely sacrelige to them.

Myself, I am of the mind that there are certain styles that demand one or the other. Or, not even styles, necessarily, but each SONG can demand a different approach. Yes, as you well know, each style of playing has its own sound.

What about you? How do you play? Can you/do you play both ways?
How do you decide which way to play when?

#879908 - 02/18/11 05:57 PM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: PopTodd]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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I am with you on this one Todd....our bass player uses both methods depending on the style of song....he sometimes even uses both in the same song.
They both have very diff sounds and BOTH are acceptable to my ears depending on the mood of the song.

#879917 - 02/18/11 06:36 PM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Polly Hager Offline
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It's so funny you put this up! It was just decided this morning that I am to play bass (as well as sing lead) for an all-female project I've been putting together. I have never played bass, but do know how to play guitar. I'm being told I'll be able to do it no problem. I have no idea what to do about strumming. Any pointers would be appreciated. Do you personally find it easier than guitar?


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#879935 - 02/18/11 08:05 PM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: PopTodd]  
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Vicarn Online content
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Hi Pop,
The title caught my eye here so being a bass player for nearly 50 years (not to say I'm any good at it though) I thought I should put my bit in.
When I first changed to bass guitar from being a strummer back in about 1960 I just assumed that I had to use a pick.
I tried using my thumb once but ended up with a huge blood blister that broke and sprayed the crowd a lovely scarlet colour.
I'm so used to playing with a pick I can't play any other way now and I'm a little too old to change.
One disadvantage is lack of speed I suppose, but then I think a lot of bassists overplay anyway.
Good luck with it.
Vic


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#880020 - 02/19/11 11:33 AM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: Vicarn]  
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Andy K Offline
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I've been playing bass as my primary instrument for over 40 years. I almost always use a pick. The note definition is much better.

I do use a nylon pick, which softens the pick click a lots.


Stone Marmot
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www.stonemarmot.com
Check out our latest song, "Sweet Little Starlet"
#880170 - 02/19/11 10:10 PM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: Andy K]  
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Mike Siegel Offline
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Mike Siegel  Offline
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I'm another guitar player turned bassist, for about 5 years... I mostly use my fingers. a few styles of music seem to demand a pick....

a friend gave me some of these... thick- 3.1 mm rubber picks. they are an interesting alternative... 'plays like a pick, sounds like fingers'

www.wedgie.com

mike

Last edited by Mike Siegel; 02/19/11 10:11 PM.
#880175 - 02/19/11 10:46 PM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: Mike Siegel]  
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Mike Dunbar Offline
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I almost always use my fingers, but I carry a few picks in my gig bag. All are heavy, some very heavy. I have some with a sharp point and some with a rounded edge. Also, I sometimes use my index finger nail, picking down not up, holding my fingers as if I were holding a pick. And, sometimes I use my thumb.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#880178 - 02/19/11 11:26 PM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
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ben willis Offline
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I play electric bass for my own recordings. I use my thumb. The pick sounds too electric for acoustic recordings. If you use a thumb and muffle it, it gives an upright bass sound, which is what I prefer.

#880300 - 02/20/11 04:26 PM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: ben willis]  
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Andy Kemp Offline
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When I first started to play bass I used a pick but as time moved on I got a lot better at playing finger style. I've even written a few tunes on the bass using a thumb pick and using a type of Travis picking. You can get some very cool grooves using a thumb pick.
This is a track I wrote using that trick:

http://soundcloud.com/mamby-p/silent-snow-secret-snow

Andy


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#882664 - 03/02/11 07:32 AM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: Andy Kemp]  
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Nigel Quin Offline
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I play bass a fair bit. Nearly always use fingers, it’s rare for me to use a pick.

#882665 - 03/02/11 07:49 AM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: Polly Hager]  
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Nigel Quin Offline
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Originally Posted by Polly Hager
It's so funny you put this up! It was just decided this morning that I am to play bass (as well as sing lead) for an all-female project I've been putting together. I have never played bass, but do know how to play guitar. I'm being told I'll be able to do it no problem. I have no idea what to do about strumming. Any pointers would be appreciated. Do you personally find it easier than guitar?
I wouldn’t normally strum a bass. As a general rule the bassist needs to work closely with the drummer. A tight drummer and bassist forms the bedrock for a decent band. So from a rhythm point of view listen to the beat and play on it until you feel comfortable enough to make your own groove. As far as the actual notes go, that’s where your creativity comes in. Obviously the chord root is a good starting point but it will be worth learning some scales to aid your creativity smile

Good luck

#882667 - 03/02/11 09:07 AM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: Nigel Quin]  
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Kolstad Offline
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I'm a guitar player playing bass as well. I mostly like to play with my fingers, but sometimes if I need the bass to cut though with the more attack a pick gives, I use (very) heavy bass picks. Mostly for rock. I've found I like the sound better when playing with fingers, though. And it sounds more like a real bass player, when using fingers as well. Actually quite enjoy playing bass, learning as I go!


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#882670 - 03/02/11 09:29 AM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: Kolstad]  
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Colin Ward Online content
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I play bass on my recordings but rarely live. I usually use a heavy pick to play bass because otherwise it sounds too muddy to me. I also find it easier to mute the unused strings when using a pick, but that is probably the guitar player coming out.

Polly, playing bass and singing at the same time is something that many people cannot do because the syncopation and phrasing requires multi-tasking in the brain. I think you have to get the bass part to be totally automatic to free you up to sing. Singing bass players are very much in the minority, although Paul and Sting prove that it is no problem if your brain is wired correctly.


Colin

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http://colinwardmusic.com/

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#883052 - 03/03/11 11:12 PM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Andy K Offline
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I sing and play bass. I can also play some fairly complex stuff on bass while singing. But there are some songs where the timing of the bass line with regards to the timing of the singing is too far out of sync for me to be able to do both at the same time. And some of these songs I have trouble both singing and playing bass on have fairly simple bass parts. As Colin said, it all has to do with the syncopation between the two parts.

I find for most songs it is easier to sing and play guitar at the same time than sing and play bass. But there are exceptions.


Stone Marmot
nouveau retro pop-rock music
www.stonemarmot.com
Check out our latest song, "Sweet Little Starlet"
#883056 - 03/03/11 11:21 PM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: Andy K]  
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Polly Hager Offline
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Well, the giant green egg gave some good pointers (thanks, Nige).

Magne, I will try deviating now and then when and if I should.

Colin, as you must know by now, my brain ain't NEVER been wired right!

Andy, I agree with everything you said, Sir.


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You're supposed to be grooving as hard as you can, all of the time. - Stephen Gaskin
#883463 - 03/05/11 10:18 PM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: Polly Hager]  
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Kevin Emmrich Offline
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Polly: Never (ok, mostly never) strum the bass -- it will be a muddy mess. I would use fingers for the bass, but Rick Danko of the band used a pick a lot -- and it definitely worked there. Since you are just starting out, learn to use the fingers-only first and then use a pick when the song requires it (if ever).

Kevin


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#883816 - 03/08/11 12:24 AM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: PopTodd]  
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Mike Caro Substudio Offline
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NY
Well this is a subject near and dear to me.

I played guitar for eleven years before switching to Bass.

So naturally I played with a pick. This is the best thing for a guitar player to do playing the bass. Feeling comfortable is MORE important then anything else. Besides Paul did it and who's more responsible for BASS being noticed? NOBODY! that's who!

Then I started using my fingers in the standard bass style in the over position. Normal I am still not very GOOD at that. I do it when there's a mellow bass line or when I'm layed back and do not need speed or power.

I also use a weird style - I used to hold the pick tucked under my middle finger while playing with my fingers. This way i could drop the pick into my hand during a song if I needed it.
This style has me finger picking the bass like an acoustic guitar. I never seen anyone doing it until years later i caught Sting doing it.

1- Even if I can play something with my fingers in the standard postition when I'm RECORDING I almost ALWAYS use the pick.
It's for the sound.... It has a GREAT ATTACK and it cuts right through the mix. The engineers used to love that i did that in sessions.

2- I can MUTE the bass really easy with the pick technique as just like a guitar you lay your back palm down gently, also RECORDS great. And is perfect for Rock & Pop

3- I'll use the finger picking style as it lets me mute the bass
easily like I was using the pick,palm down BUT it gives me a great soft touch that always me more SPEED than over han standard playing.

4- If i just learned standard overhand from the get go, I wouldn't need all these tricks lol. But the pick with the attack and mute thing is a MUST for certain things and you are not getting it with your fingers.

A pick attacks the strings and makes a HUGE difference in your sound.


Thanks!
Peace Mike
Sub

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#883817 - 03/08/11 12:26 AM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: Mike Caro Substudio]  
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Mike Caro Substudio Offline
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NY
Tip :

If your using a pick on the bass but want the softer effect like you get using your fingers, use the pick but cut down the TONE knob on the bass. Way down to about at least half. This will take that percussive edge off and give a much closer sound to fingers.

Mike



Thanks!
Peace Mike
Sub

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#883823 - 03/08/11 01:21 AM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: Mike Caro Substudio]  
Joined: Oct 2007
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Wendy D Offline
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Wendy D  Offline
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Atlanta, GA USA
I've been playing the bass for three years now, which may not seem like many years to all of you (and, truthfully, is it in the grand scheme of things?) but considering that those three years have made up three thirteenths of my life...

I use the bow, no picks ever. I don't think picks would go down in a Mozart piece.
Oh, wrong bass.

- They Chile of they Wendy


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You think I'm just another jive folk singer but I'm a master in the art of criminology..Tom Russell
#883825 - 03/08/11 01:21 AM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: Wendy D]  
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Wendy D Offline
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Atlanta, GA USA
Never let the kid have your computer while you are still logged-in...


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https://soundcloud.com/#mamby-p

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Link for Blackfoot Daisy band


You think I'm just another jive folk singer but I'm a master in the art of criminology..Tom Russell
#891889 - 04/12/11 03:36 PM Re: Bass players: pick or fingers? Both? [Re: Wendy D]  
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Canyontide Offline
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Canyontide  Offline
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Deep South
Todd...I used to play with a pick, until I became more comfortable with the bass..Then I began trying to use my fingers. I like the smooth sound using my fingers gives..so I choose that over a pick. However, I think you're right, it's not only personal preference, but it's what sounds best for what you're playing.

Have a good one!


Have a blessed day!

Canyon..aka, Carol

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"No matter how many times you think to yourself you have heard it all, you are always wrong." –Brian Austin Whitney
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