How to Play Bass with a Pick: Taking Your Bass Playing to the Next Level

How to Play Bass with a Pick: Are you caught in the pick vs. fingers debate for bass playing? In this guide, delve into the art of playing bass with a pick. Explore expert insights, techniques, and valuable tips to master this versatile approach. Let’s dive into the world of pick playing and settle the debate!

Is It OK to Play Bass with a Pick?

Before we delve into the specifics, it’s essential to address the common misconception that “real bass players don’t use picks” which some guitarist may believe. The truth is, using a pick on a string instead of using hands to pluck is a valid and widely embraced technique in the bass line, employed by both beginner and professional bass players across various genres.

The choice between using a pick or your fingers ultimately depends on your personal playing style and the tone you wish to achieve, expert players use both. Some even use a technique called slap bass while using a guitar pick, though it is better using your fingers, but always try a new way to play.

How to Play Bass with a Pick?

The first step towards playing bass with a pick is finding the right grip. Hold the pick between your thumb and index finger, making sure it feels secure and comfortable in your hand. Experiment with different hand positions until you find the one that works best for you. Remember, a good technique starts with a solid grip! Bass strings are much tougher than acoustic ones, so do not be afraid. Guitar players tend to play more careful than they should, especially if they have a high-quality great pick on electric bass.

How Do You Practice Bass with a Pick?

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To develop your skills in playing bass with a pick, it’s crucial to incorporate dedicated practice sessions into your routine. Start by focusing on simple bass lines, gradually increasing the complexity as you become more comfortable. Fully tabbed and notated exercises can be excellent resources for honing your pick playing technique. Remember to start slow and gradually build up speed and precision. Mastering different techniques in practice will help you become a pro at handling guitar strings in any genre, including jazz.

What Bass Players Only Use a Pick?

Some renowned bassists, such as Paul McCartney, Carol Kaye, Steve Swallow, and Bobby Vega, have made their mark by primarily using a pick. Because of that you shouldn’t think that bassists don’t use picks! You can make a shape of pick of fingers, but the real thing just sounds better.

These influential musicians demonstrate that pick playing can be a powerful tool in crafting distinctive bass lines. So, if you’re considering venturing into pick playing, you’re in good company! These musicians have answered many FAQ’s about their playing, and let’s talk about any questions that they haven’t answered but which appear when you are trying to use a pick on a bass.

Where Do You Put the Pick on a Bass?

When not using the pick, it’s essential to have a designated spot for easy access. Many bassists attach their picks to their instrument using a pick holder or adhesive strips. Experiment with different placements until you find the one that suits your playing style and keeps your pick secure. It doesn’t matter what technique you use if you can’t find your pick, and bassists should use multiple technique with and without the pick (otherwise called plectrum).

What to be Mindful of When Holding a Bass Pick?

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When playing bass with a pick, there are a few things to keep in mind and to affiliate with. Firstly, be mindful of the pick’s thickness. Thicker picks tend to produce a heavier and softer tone, while thinner picks offer more flexibility. Secondly, pay attention to your picking technique.

Focus on striking the strings cleanly and evenly to achieve a consistent sound. Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment with different picks to find the one that complements your playing style and desired tone. There are numerous guides and books that have more than six chapters that focus on techniques with picks and will help you raise your skills to the next level and help you take a bit more confidence into your playing. You can return to this website from Amazon after you have ordered them.


       Experiment with different pick materials and thicknesses to find your ideal tone. Thinner picks range from 0.60 mm to 0.88 mm, thicker may be around 135 mm. Get started with a more comfortable pick to develop core skills.

       Incorporate fingerstyle techniques whilst pick playing for a versatile playing style.

       Join online forums or communities to connect with other pick-playing bassists and learn from their experiences, but filter out bad advice about the hand position. People think they know everything, but they just spread stigma about wrong hand placements.

       Record yourself playing with a pick to analyze and improve your technique.

       Remember that practice is key – dedicate regular time to pick playing to improve your skills.


       Be careful when choosing the pick thickness, as extremely thin or thick picks may affect your playing technique and sound quality.

       Avoid gripping the pick too tightly, as it may lead to unnecessary tension and fatigue in your hand.

Whether you’re a beginner looking to take your pick playing to the next level or an experienced bassist curious about adding more versatility to your sound, playing bass with a pick offers a unique and exciting playing style. By following the techniques and tips outlined in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to explore the world of pick playing and unlock new possibilities in your bass playing journey. So, grab your bass, your favorite pick, and let’s rock those bass strings with confidence and finesse!

Kristy Bennett/ author of the article
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