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thepurpleblob

How the hell do you play with a pick?

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Advice needed!

Some background - I've been playing for about 20 years but always fingerstyle. I've rather oddly not come to bass via the normal step of playing guitar - I have never played guitar - I was a classical percussionist (someone has to be). So, I've never used a pick. 

I decided to give it a go on the grounds that it would be a useful extra technique. However, I haven't a clue what I'm doing and, so far, results have been terrible. Some specific issues...

Picks are hard, shiny things. How do you keep it between your fingers? No matter what I do it falls out after a few picks.

I get it that you hold it between your thumb and the side of your finger - but what do you do with the rest of your picking hand? Everything feels awkward.

The big one - how do you mute? It just sounds an awful mess right now. Muting seems quite natural fingerstyle but I have no idea how to do it with a pick. 

Help  appreciated :)

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Where it comes to muting, if you are picking with your thumb and your index finger, you have the flat of your little finger to mute.

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3 minutes ago, Woodinblack said:

Where it comes to muting, if you are picking with your thumb and your index finger, you have the flat of your little finger to mute.

Makes sense - but, say, if I am playing on the D string... what's muting the E string. My pinky isn't going to reach back there and it'll really buzz. Sorry if this sounds obvious/stupid to people!

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I mute mostly with my freting hand, the bottom E ( and A sometimes) by hooking my thumb over the neck or if playing a note on the A string just touch the E string with the freting finger, if playing an open string with the side of my picking hand, hope that makes sense

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I used to be a pick player as for me it suited the music and was the most natural way to play. Today I play both fingers and pick. The picking hand should be the most automatic process possible and follow the feel of the bass line and song. You don't limit yourself to up/down/up/down as the most efficient process, that's just utter rubbish. It should be what the bass line dictates. As an example, this is an old video (2008) of me playing pick to one of my own songs. The intro is all down strokes, it's the only way it works to give the desired effect. Then the verse is up and down and a mix of both, again, because it's what works. Its all about flow rather than technique. There is also no conection to what the fretting hand is doing. They are both seperate processes. The other thing to notice is if you listen with the volume off, my movement of my picking hand is consistent. This is what I mean by it being an automatic process. My wrist or arm is not changing or moving in different ways. I guess its similar to constantly strumming a guitar. Finally, most of the movement/strokes is in the wrist. So much so that my wrist used to lay against the top of my bass and rub the skin away on my wrist. 

 

 

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9 minutes ago, thepurpleblob said:

Makes sense - but, say, if I am playing on the D string... what's muting the E string. My pinky isn't going to reach back there and it'll really buzz. Sorry if this sounds obvious/stupid to people!

Things are only obvious if you know them!

I actually lean my whole hand across all the strings when I am picking, from my little finger down to my hand, so it actually mutes all the strings, to vary the mute I just play further back so my hand reduces and then stops muting by sliding over the bridge.

So if I am playing a d, it will line up with the very bottom of my litte finger, so the side of my hand rather than the finger itself.

 

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Just for info, there are plenty of picks that aren't shiny and slippy. I play exclusively with Dunlop Ultex (the larger Taco shaped ones), which are not slippy and have a lovely springy feel.

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I can't ever recall dropping a pick while playing, they've sometimes slipped round, I use Dunlop Nylons 94mm luminous ones they're easier to find in the dark, not very luminous though

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1 hour ago, Woodinblack said:

I actually lean my whole hand across all the strings when I am picking, from my little finger down to my hand, so it actually mutes all the strings, to vary the mute I just play further back so my hand reduces and then stops muting by sliding over the bridge.

Yep, that's the way - it's palm muting.

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42 minutes ago, Adrenochrome said:

Just for info, there are plenty of picks that aren't shiny and slippy. I play exclusively with Dunlop Ultex which are not slippy and have a lovely springy feel.

This. I use nylon Herco Flex 50 and have never dropped a pick in 40 years. Even at really hot, sweaty gigs.

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2 hours ago, Adrenochrome said:

Just for info, there are plenty of picks that aren't shiny and slippy. I play exclusively with Dunlop Ultex (the larger Taco shaped ones), which are not slippy and have a lovely springy feel.

I use Jim Dunlop 1.14mm. They are purple and are rough all over apart from the tip. Amazing pick.

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I suspect we may talking about different types of muting here, muted all the time or muting to stop strings being played by accident or cut off the note to stop it sustaining too long

Edited by PaulWarning

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Muting for, I suppose two reasons. Firstly, to stop the thicker strings buzzing when you play the thinner ones. Secondly, to stop it sustaining too long. So there's only one note at a time. Fingerstyle, I mostly move my thumb up and down.

The pick thing... the impact of plucking the string makes it move between my fingers so that within a few plucks I loose it. It's almost certainly bad technique but I'm struggling to get by it. Despite all the swearing!

Edited by thepurpleblob

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20 minutes ago, thepurpleblob said:

The pick thing... the impact of plucking the string makes it move between my fingers so that within a few plucks I loose it. It's almost certainly bad technique but I'm struggling to get by it. Despite all the swearing!

Dont hold it with a death grip - nice and relaxed is the key. Then you'll never drop it. Turn your amp up and pluck the strings less hard. :)

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2 hours ago, PaulWarning said:

I suspect we may talking about different types of muting here, muted all the time or muting to stop strings being played by accident or cut off the note to stop it sustaining too long

Yes, both types of muting I do the same. The edge of your hand acts like the soft pedal on a piano.

 

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Yep, Dunlop Max-grips are my favourites too, although any of the Dunlop nylon jobs work well. I can’t remember the last time I dropped a pick either. 

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On 13/01/2018 at 10:29, thepurpleblob said:

Picks are hard, shiny things. How do you keep it between your fingers? No matter what I do it falls out after a few picks.

I had this problem too. I've taken to using Herco thumbpicks and they've proved to be the ideal solution. One of the things I really like about them is that I can swap between pick and fingerstyle on the fly mid-song.

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Linus27 - just wanted to say: dig the song and love your bass lines - really melodic!

Edit: silly me - you were in a real band, Inter, that did  sessions for Peel and the full version of the song is on youtube (though I prefer being able to hear the bass lines in your cover version).

Edited by Kitsto

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