Using a Pick for Bassists

By October 1, 2016Bass, Lessons

Should I use a pick?

It depends. If you’re opting for a pick because you believe it’s quicker or easier, no you should not! But, if you want to learn with a pick because you prefer the tone of picking over finger style, you definitely should.

Learning both finger style and picking will make you a better, more diverse bassist. Don’t learn picking just because some say it’s easier. You should work to develop whatever techniques will best suit your playing style.

Using a Pick

The first thing you’ve got to do is learn how to hold your pick.

You should grip the pick between your thumb and forefinger. Once your fingers are grasping it, the pointed tip of the pick should be positioned so it comes out of the side of your thumb.

You don’t have to put a death grip on the pick, just hold it with enough tension to keep it in your hand. When you first start playing, you may find yourself dropping your pick a lot. This will stop with practice, and eventually you’ll be able to spin the pick around in your hand while you play!

Alternate Picking

Make sure you get in the habit quick of alternating your picking as down-up-down-up. It essentially doubles your speed!

There are times where you might only down pick, but otherwise you should always default to alternating your picking.

Choosing a Pick

There are many different kinds of picks to choose from. Most are made from celluloid and tear drop shaped. Speciality picks can be made from stone or acrylic, and some players just use coins as picks.

Try a few kinds out and see what you like best. Each one will have a different feel and tone. You can find pick variety packs that include sizes and thicknesses, and some come with special finishes that help you grip the pick better.

Picks should be replaced every few weeks or months, depending on the material and how often you play. Just like strings, picks will start to sound dull after a while and wear thin. When that starts happening, swap it for a new one and repeat!

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