Playing Bass With A Pick

In this lesson we’ll be discussing how to play bass with a pick. How to use a pick or plectrum to play bass is something that is a hot debate for many all the way from beginners to advanced bassists. And what constitutes correct bass picking technique is a huge part of that debate. Everyone you speak to seems to have a different opinion on how to hold the pick and how to use it. Having so much conflicting advice often leaves us a little confused when we’re trying to develop our technique. We’ve all been there and it’s a really difficult position to be in.

How to Play Bass with a Pick

I’d like to take this opportunity to give my input on a few issues regarding pick bass playing. Below are a few common questions I get asked;

1. Can you play bass with a pick? – Yes you can. Using a plectrum just gives your bass a different sound. Whilst the use of a plectrum isn’t the most common technique, many bass players throughout the history of the instrument have created some truly great music using a pick.

2. Bass pick vs fingers. Is it ok to play bass with a pick? – Of course it is. There is a little bit of a stigma about using a pick rather than your fingers to play bass but this is mostly just a matter of preference. I’ve never seen any reason why bass players can’t use a pick.

3. Who can I listen to so I can hear some great examples of bass players who use a pick? – I would say you have to check out Bobby Vega, Carol Kaye, Steve Swallow and Paul McCartney. There have been many more great players who use a pick but these guys have written some memorable music with this technique. Put any of their names into Google and you’ll find records they’ve played on.