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mangotango

Born-again plectrum player

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A little while back, the jazz/funk/world band in which I play went from a quartet to a keyboard-based trio, with the loss of the front-line horn player (trumpet).  The rest of us began jamming as that trio, and found that we liked it, so that's how we're going forward.

Suddenly, the bass had taken on a more important role, as I found myself taking a few additional solos and covering more of the sonic spectrum.  To manage the latter, I tried out the Squier Bass VI that I acquired from Al Krow. The feedback from the other two was that it didn't really work - having the increase in the top end range was great, but losing out on the deep rumble that I had from my Spector 5-stringers wasn't so good.  So I went all in and acquired a Cort A6 six-string bass. This is pretty much ideal for the job, but in getting used to the narrower string spacing than my 5's, I initially found myself gravitating towards a pick.

(Those of you who have seen the words "plectrum" and "six-string bass" and have suddenly found themselves reaching for the keyboard to type in "Jaco only needed 4" or "that's not a bass, it's a guitar" - please feel free to seek another thread about whatever suits your point of view).

The fact is that I am also a guitarist in a different band, so using a plec is no issue for me.   However, instead of losing the pick once I became accustomed to the new bass, I have found myself using it more and more, though not on everything. I hadn't used a pick on a bass since back in the days of the Noo Wave, so at first I felt that it was a bit out of place in the music that I'm now playing .

Now, however, I don't really care. I've even started using the plec instead of slapping on a few funk tunes - it sounds more solid (so obviously my slap technique had needed improvement, LOL!!) and cuts through better. I'm even planning to use it with the Spectorcore fretless (shock!!) on part of a new tune where it helps to give a better attack.

 

So am I due soon to be ostracized by the bass-playing community?  Am I doomed to wander the musical highway like David (but really Bruce) Banner at the credits of The Incredible Hulk, trying to flag down a lift to take me back to A Town Called Acceptance?

Or more likely, do I  just go my own way and not give a toss for the rising tide of public opinion? "You do you and I'll be me".....

 

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Playing with a pick is just another technique for us to use, another tool in the toolbox. 

My 2 cents are use the technique that fits the song. There are songs that will sound better with a pick, just like there are songs that will sound better with any other technique you can name. 

The more tools in the toolbox the better and if you can get the sound in your head out using a pick, go for it and don't worry about what anyone else thinks. 

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Was good enough for Chris Squire and is more than good enough for the pick meister that is Bobby Vega (apparently some Liverpool born player uses a pick too). Seeing BV at a bass show encouraged me to use the pick more and I enjoy it, along with fingerstyle. As stated above, it’s another tool.

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2 minutes ago, ezbass said:

Was good enough for Chris Squire and is more than good enough for the pick meister that is Bobby Vega (apparently some Liverpool born player uses a pick too). Seeing BV at a bass show encouraged me to use the pick more and I enjoy it, along with fingerstyle. As stated above, it’s another tool.

Yep I remember that Liverpool-born player well!! 😁

 

The first gig I ever saw,  the Fabs at the Liverpool Empire when I was just 7 - obviously an even bigger influence than I thought......

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1 hour ago, mangotango said:

do I just go my own way and not give a toss for the rising tide of public opinion?

Yep.

 

Phil Lesh has played a six with a plectrum for years, if any justification from a 'name' is required- which it isn't.

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I think there is a lot of potential in pick playing - Steve Swallow has used one since picking up the electric bass in the 60s. I recorded this 7-string using a pick and found it strangely liberating. I would love to try it on a gig but people are so wary of anything 'new', particularly in Jazz circles. There is a perverse dichotomy between innovation and conservatism. I think this sounds like a strange mix is Steve Swallow and Jim Hall :)

 

Edited by Bilbo
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Playing with a pick is a complete non-issue.  Bassists have been using picks since there were electric basses and many of the most iconic and influential players use(d) a pick.

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On 22/11/2020 at 19:05, mangotango said:

 I've even started using the plec instead of slapping on a few funk tunes - it sounds more solid (so obviously my slap technique had needed improvement, LOL!!) and cuts through better.

This is one of my favourite uses for a pick - I went through a long period of stubbornly playing 'Car Wash' with a pick on gigs and always felt it worked better than slapping.

 Go after the sound in your head and everything will work out. If we pay too much attention to the whims of the masses then we all end up playing relic'd p-basses strung with flats and everything becomes very dull indeed.

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On 23/11/2020 at 09:55, Bilbo said:

I think there is a lot of potential in pick playing - Steve Swallow has used one since picking up the electric bass in the 60s. I recorded this 7-string using a pick and found it strangely liberating. I would love to try it on a gig but people are so wary of anything 'new', particularly in Jazz circles. There is a perverse dichotomy between innovation and conservatism. I think this sounds like a strange mix is Steve Swallow and Jim Hall :)

 

That HB 7 string sounds great! Good show. 

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On 22/11/2020 at 19:05, mangotango said:

The fact is that I am also a guitarist i

I think you fornicated it up right there 

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On 22/11/2020 at 20:21, Jus Lukin said:

Yep.

 

Phil Lesh has played a six with a plectrum for years, if any justification from a 'name' is required- which it isn't.

As has Anthony Jackson, at times. And as mentioned elsewhere, Steve Swallow on a 5'er. Both in my chosen genre of music. I have no problem with them.

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20 minutes ago, mangotango said:

There's always one.....

Yes and I’m right :)

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