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Digits or Plectrum ?


fryer
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When I re-started playing after a long gap, I was playing 60's covers. Now joined a new band and we're playing newer stuff. It's easier in some ways - less runs to learn, but faster to play. I've always used my fingers, but should I try a plectrum for more speed ?

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It's a good idea. I've always found I can play a lot faster with a pick, but I did start on guitar so that might be something to do with it. Personally, I don't think there is any shame in using a pick. Yes, some purists might not be happy about it but I think there are some fantastic players out there who use picks. The other important thing is the tone, does the tone of a pick suit the type of songs you're playing? As long as it does, I don't really see a reason not to. Might as well give it a go, see how you feel :) it's only a bit of plastic after all lol.

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[quote name='noelk27' timestamp='1324142300' post='1471268']
Sometimes. Sometimes it's a bit of wood, or a bit of bone, or a bit of carbon graphite, or a bit of metal.

Simple answer is you use what's right for the song.
[/quote]

Right, it's another sound, pick, pluck, thumb, tap, slap, strum...it's your choice and a matter of taste
But...ehm...who's gonna say what's right for the song? :-)
If you use downstrokes only, then the plectrum could be very fatiguing and not so easy for fast songs...

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I would look at how the original songs were played.
If they're played with a pick then use one, if not then don't.

Playing bass lines that were originally played with a pick using fingers (or vice versa) never sounds quite right to me - the articulation is always different.

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i would say go with whatever feels most natural to you. I played with a pick for years because I played rock and metal and therefore felt i should, but it always felt really awkward to me. A few months ago I changed to using my fingers instead, and since then I feel like I've made so much progress.

p.s. don't forget, the 'right' sound can be EQed in if it's really important to you, but I would say learn to love the sounds you get :)

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Started with a pick many years ago, practiced with fingers as I thought it was better. Still think it probably is and have used a pick only a couple of time over the years and have no desire to go back.

Its a different sound so, as others have said, its up to you, there's no right and wrong but I would say using fingers is more versatile.

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What everybody else has said.

I've never managed to master the pick, but feel there is definitety summat missing in my playing (although I'll admit to being no more than a *hobbyist* so it's probably not a great loss in the overall scheme of things,

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[quote name='Blademan_98' timestamp='1324141443' post='1471257']
Most people would agree that a plectrum gives more speed. I personally can't use one (grip problems) so I just use my fingers.

If you can use one, it should give you a greater turn of speed :lol:
[/quote]
Rubbish - Stanley Clarke, Billy Sheehan, Steve Harris and countless others
[quote name='Hobbayne' timestamp='1324141452' post='1471259']
I play all rock numbers with a pick, it gives you more volume
[/quote]
That is what that knob on the far right of the front of your amplifier is for!
[quote name='noelk27' timestamp='1324142300' post='1471268']
Simple answer is you use what's right for the song.
[/quote]
I don’t get this mantra “what's right for the song” that some people keep repeating on here – obviously you should play the right part for each song but does that mean that you have a completely different sound and approach to how you play on every single song?

Why not develop your own style and sound that maximises your potential as a player and becomes recognisable as part of what makes your band unique…!

Edited by peteb
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I learned to play a guitar with a pick, so when I took up bass it was the natural move to carry on with one. I practise using my fingers for the whole 'choose what's right for the song' thing but am still unable to play with the same control, subtlety and speed that I can with a pick, so for gigs I exclusively play with a pick. Maybe when I can play to the same standard with my fingers I will be able to choose which style but, tbh, I don't feel that playing with a pick restricts me. I think the most important thing is to play in a way that is better for you - if you have a decent touch with one style and not another I don't see any reason to 'do yourself down' by not playing to your strengths. 99.99% of the punters aren't going to notice - probably only bass players!

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There are some things and styles you just can't do with a pick... and some that just don't work with fingers.
You'll lean towards the one that gets close to the sounds and style you want to play, and hear, hopefully

Everything I want to do starts with fingerstyle, so I do that - I swapped over years ago -... others might hear a pick sound at a certain time and want that...but if I don't hear it that way, I'll likely not do it.

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[quote name='RhysP' timestamp='1324146726' post='1471310']
I would look at how the original songs were played.
If they're played with a pick then use one, if not then don't.

Playing bass lines that were originally played with a pick using fingers (or vice versa) never sounds quite right to me - the articulation is always different.
[/quote]

this x1000000 if its covers your doing, the band leader will generally want the song to sound like the original recording. I never used to pay much attention to this until I got to uni where they would take marks off the performance if the tone wasn't matching the original....make sure I now pay attention to detail and it seems to be working, more and more band leaders are calling me up for work so cant be a bad thing!

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I've used a pick a pick for years - do some fingerstyle sometimes at home, but TBH I play better, and sound better with a pick.

So I've come to the conclusion to when in public, play to what I do best. I bring to the bands what I do with my own style.

My advice always is play what you feel best with, you'll be more relaxed and that in turn will enable you to play to your natural best! :D

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I have no interest in trying to get so close to a perceived best sound for the track with reagrds to must be played with a pick. And tbh, nobody asks me to do it.
They may suggest more attack, or it needs this emphasis, so I might play around with a few approaches but ultimately
If you don't like what I bring to the party...then don't book me.

I recall we dropped a Muse track as the bass sound wasn't getting there...but then it never worked in other regards either.
People can focus so much on a bass part, for example..and the player can have it right down..and then the band doesn't realise where else it falls apart.

I have had these conversations where the bass player says he has the part down..and basically, it is screw the rest of you, my part is right :lol: :lol: and they still try and play the song...!!!!!!!!!!!!!
:lol: :lol: :lol:

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[quote name='RhysP' timestamp='1324146726' post='1471310']
I would look at how the original songs were played.
If they're played with a pick then use one, if not then don't.

Playing bass lines that were originally played with a pick using fingers (or vice versa) never sounds quite right to me - the articulation is always different.
[/quote]

[quote name='Chlo_treacher' timestamp='1324209015' post='1471742']
this x1000000 if its covers your doing, the band leader will generally want the song to sound like the original recording. I never used to pay much attention to this until I got to uni where they would take marks off the performance if the tone wasn't matching the original....make sure I now pay attention to detail and it seems to be working, more and more band leaders are calling me up for work so cant be a bad thing!
[/quote]

If this was correct then you'd need not only a plectrum of the correct gauge and type or fingers (with fingernails the right length) but also the right strings, the right bass etc etc. to do a proper version of the song ... and you'd still have to cop the correct feel. I can't see it makes any sense.

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I tend to default to using a pick, but I often swap between pick and fingers within a song. The pick usually ends up in my gob when I'm playing quiet bits, where I want a deeper, bassier tone and I use the pick for heavier bits, or riffs. I find it gives me a bit of flexibility and more dynamic range, which can be useful.

If I spent my time in a motown covers band, or a soul band, or a folk band I probably would use my fingers a heck of a lot more. Having said that, I'm sure with sensible EQing and kit choice you can pretty easily get a nice deep, bassy tone with a pick, and can get a bright, gritty rock tone with fingers.

Like many things, it's all opinion and your mileage may vary. As long as you are making nice noises that make you, your bandmates and your audience happy it's not a big deal!

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