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Finger Picking Vs Using A Pick On The Bass

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Learn when to finger pick and when to use a pick when you're playing the bass. .

What's In This Session?
  • Introduction (0:00)

  • Example of Playing Using a Pick (0:40)

  • Playing Mute Bass with Pick (1:25)

  • Example of Finger Picking (2:13)

  • Conclusion (3:15)

The Full Transcript
"In this video we're gonna talk about whether you should use a pick or use your fingers while playing the bass. Both sides have benefits and strengths but when it comes down to it it's all about the tone that you want for your bass. If you want something that's a little bit more rock, or grunge, or fast-moving, try using a pick. You're gonna get much more punch and much more, just top and feel out of it. If you're playing something that's a little bit more funk, or soft, or something with more dynamics use your fingers because you can control the dynamics and you have a lot more options for tonal control as you play. Iโ€™m going to show you a couple examples of both sides, just to kind of see what you can do with your pick and your fingers Hereโ€™s a couple of examples of how you're going to use your pick. When you play with your pick, make sure you're playing close to the bridge because the strings are a little tighter up here. You're gonna get a more smooth sound as opposed to there's a lot more noise where you play a little higher or closer to the neck. So here's an example of some rock type music you can play with the pick. You see you've got that punchy tone. Sometimes it sounds really nice to have an overdrive pedal to that. You're coming to a fast part of the song, you just want to drive at home use your overdrive and a pick and it sounds beautiful. Another strength of the pick is you can mute the strings while you're playing. It still can be aggressive, but you're getting a little bit of a softer tone and you can add a little bit more color to what you're playing. Here's an example of that. So what I'm doing is I'm just putting the side of my palm on the strings and plucking that string. So I'm controlling the amount of resonance that's coming off those strings, and I can build as I move my hand off the string. So it might sound something like this. So I've just gone from a mute to a full-on resonant string with my pick. Like I said earlier, finger picking is great for a multitude of different tones. You can play funk, you can play nice, soft music, you can build dynamics really well using your fingers. Here are some example of finger style playing. With finger picking, you have the chance to make it more percussive, or more rhythmic by adding slaps and ghost notes while you play. You can't necessarily do that as easy with a pick. So what I mean is that hand slap adds a lot of character to what you're playing, where you can lock in with the drummer and just add to that percussive sound that you're trying to get. So again, there's not a right or a wrong whether to use your fingers or a pick it comes down to the tone quality that you're trying to get from the song. If you want a more punchy, use a pick. If you want to work with your dynamics or play softer, use your fingers. But just use what you have in your toolkit, all right. If you're really comfortable with a pick, use a pick. If you're really comfortable with your fingers, use your finger. If you want to stretch yourself, practice skills that will allow you to cross over."