New to the Bass

Discussion in 'Ace's BASS Place' started by Ian Ashdown, May 29, 2020.

  1. Ian Ashdown

    Ian Ashdown Strat-Talker

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    I normally play all regularly 6 string guitars, Strats, LP’s, acoustic, nylon string etc. Occasionally even 12 strings! Sometime ago I bought a really nice Jazz Bass and a Bass amp, just because I might want to try adding bass tracks if I ever get good enough to want to record anything I play. I’m not there yet, but as I’m in stay at home mode with a bit more time on my hands I thought I might break it out and start trying to learn how to play the Bass!

    I’ve been watching a few Bass players to get some tips, but have one basic question. I see most Bass players play with their fingers, but a few play with a pick. As I play with a pick most of the time this seems like a natural place to start.

    Should a Bass player play both? Is it song specific? I’m just try to see how to focus my time for best effect. I can play finger style, but it is not my strong suit.

    I’m looking forward to the challenge, and welcome any tips to help ‘flatten my learning curve’ (notice the Covid pun!)

    Thanks,

    Ian
    SoCal
     
  2. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

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    Bass strings are heavy, and usually have too much energy to make them stop ringing with only left hand technique. Finger style (usually just the index and middle fingers) keeps your hand in position to be able to mute the strings that you don't want ringing--and any time you pluck the 3rd string you're already muting the 4th. If you're able to selectively mute strings while playing with a pick, then go for it.

    If you're staying on one string and playing fast--there are songs where you play 16th notes and stay on one note for a couple of bars at a time--that's easier to play with a pick. If you're doing runs that cross several strings and you don't want it to get muddy, it's easier to do it fingerstyle.
     
  3. GuitarPix

    GuitarPix Senior Stratmaster

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    I mostly play with fingers but the occasional song calls for pick. I found when I was beginning that I needed a pick to play faster lines in time but with practice was able to use fingers.

    Great practice was finding a group needing a bass player but not gigging serious, more the Sunday afternoon beer and jam and a gig every few months. Really upped my game on bass.
     
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  4. Ian Ashdown

    Ian Ashdown Strat-Talker

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    Really great input! Never considered the muting thing! It makes sense though.

    I have two players that I admire, John Entwistle (☹️) great style and speed, and Roger Waters; I’m told not a great player, but I guess I like the music and I think he has great phrasing and timing. Both very different.

    Anyway, it’ll be a pleasant diversion and I can really make the windows rattle when the CEO is out!

    Ian
    SoCal
     
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  5. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Most Honored Senior Member

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    I'm not a bass player, so I'm certainly not an expert, but Carol Kaye plays with a pick exclusively, and picks near the neck. Here's an interesting example:



    Here she is playing on a familiar tune:

     
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
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  6. Ian Ashdown

    Ian Ashdown Strat-Talker

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    I’ve been watching Guy Pratt recently too. Some good stuff on his ‘Lockdown Licks’!

    He seems to move from a pick, to fingerstyle, to slap seamlessly.

    This might be move involved that I thought!
     
  7. Hanson

    Hanson Strat-Talker

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    I too am a guitar player that has played since I was 14 years old. Twenty years ago I bought my Rick Bass and learned to play, because I have always loved bass and admired bass players. Six years ago I became the Bass Player for our worship band and have been playing to audiences of 600-800 people on a weekly basis.

    I can play bass with both my fingers and a pick. After many years, I much prefer a pick. I feel I have better control and a more consistent attack. When I first started playing bass for our worship band, we had 2 other bass players as well. At first, on Sundays when I would play, they would come up on stage after and check out my amp saying you have great tone. Then they would ask about the Rick. What took them a while to figure out, was that I was playing with a pick. One of the guys then started playing with a pick also, but he could never get over sounding clicky when he played.

    It took me many years to develop a style of play that does not sound like a pick, but has a nice punch to the tone. I have tried many types of picks, including felt, but always go back to a black 2.0mm gator pick.

    There is a perception out there by many that will say playing bass with a pick is wrong or always sounds bad. Not true if you develop your technique.

    The hardest thing about transitioning from a guitar player to a bass player is to learn to think like a bass player. Most end up sounding like a guitar player playing bass. Many guitar players think that bass is easy, why not, there are only 4 strings and you don’t have to play as fast. The thing that a bass player has to have is perfect timing. If the drummer and bass player can’t lock into a groove, the whole band sounds terrible. Guitar players can often be slightly off on timing an no one will notice.
     
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  8. Deafsoundguy

    Deafsoundguy Strat-Talker

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    I think a lot depends on the style of music you like. I was really influenced by Mark King (Level 42) and his thumb and finger pull poppin and so Ive always liked trying to emulate that style. Never a pick with that guy. But then if you like super crisp bass then Ricks with picks like Chris Squire (Yes). I mean live in concert, Chris Squire had the best bass sound ever...but then again credit must be also attached to the sound system (Clair Bros) and their sound guy (awesome).

    Then there's just emulating however you can do it with some band you think is the greatest. As far as overall bass guitar sound on a record I put Francis Rocco Prestia (Tower of Power) at the top. It's consistently the most clear defined bass guitar sound ever with bass and baritone sax up and in your face. I sometimes listen to TOP not for the songs but just for the incredible mix of the bari and bass. Great guitar player too. Oh heck they're all awesome.

    Then there's always others who think one is cheating if you use a pick...I know a few of those guys... I try to never play with a pick not because of sound but because I feel like I will become better faster if I don't but that's JUST me.
     
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  9. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

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    Roger Waters is a great bassist. A lot of his parts are simple, but not all by any means. Particularly his work on Animals. Dogs is full of naughty chords (Em9, Fmaj7, Bsusadd9, etc) and the bass really holds the whole thing together--yeah, just throw a bass fill in over Bsusadd9, easy right? And Pigs (Three Different Ones) is McCartney-esque in complexity, it starts with a cool bass solo and the verse part has extraordinarily tricky timing. And like McCartney, Waters sings while playing those complex parts. Also like McCartney, Waters is a fantastic songwriter.
     
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  10. JamieHenry

    JamieHenry Strat-Talker

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    I used to play a lot of bass. I found that a big heavy gauge triangular pick suited me most often. Sometimes finger plucking got me the right tone, or that funky percussive thumb hammer stuff. One thing that got me a tone in between using a pick or my fingers was a felt pick. They’re made out of a hard felt, kind of like piano hammers. Not sure if stores still have them. But they give a nice mellow tone.
     
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  11. dublindave8456

    dublindave8456 Strat-O-Master

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    i moved over to bass about 20 years back
    bass gigs were easier to get
    still play guitar at home
    use both plec and fingers
     
  12. Hanson

    Hanson Strat-Talker

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    That’s exactly why I moved to bass. There are a dozen guitarists for every bass player.
     
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  13. davidKOS

    davidKOS unavailable Strat-Talk Supporter

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    or 3 or even 4 fingers

    I use mostly fingers but always have a pick at hand for the times when the bass line needs a pick.

    However, my real comment is that to play bass well as a guitar player, you need to understand what the bass line can do.

    From almost nothing!- simple grooves that let everything else fit in place - to the other extreme of tunes built around a great bass line.

    And when the drums stop, we get a solo.

     
  14. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

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    The drums must not stop.
     
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  15. gjohnson441496

    gjohnson441496 Strat-O-Master

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    It depends on the style of music and the bass. Rickenbackers are born for a pick. I play my p bass with TI Power wounds (which have a sound similar to flat wounds), with a pick. Strings make a huge difference in the sound as well. I prefer playing with a pick. I’m a huge Paul McCartney fan.
     
  16. gjohnson441496

    gjohnson441496 Strat-O-Master

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    Roger Waters is a great bass player. He never overplays. He’s always in the pocket.
     
  17. mapleglo

    mapleglo Senior Stratmaster

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    Bass is actually my main instrument. I played with a pick exclusively for close to 50 years, but when I joined this country band, I started playing with my fingers. I've since moved back to guitar, but when I pick up a bass, I'm usually playing with my fingers because that's how I played for the past two years or so. It's best to be able to play either way. Each has it's own sound.
     
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  18. JamieHenry

    JamieHenry Strat-Talker

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    Way back when I last played bass in a band, at the practice space I had a sort of auxiliary bass cab on the floor aways away from me. Though we had some comfy furniture there, one guitar player’s girlfriend always sat on that cabinet, and we wondered why, though not enough to ask her. One day I happened to be sitting on it, and hit a loud low E. I had to laugh as the reason was suddenly clear!
     
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  19. espyhop

    espyhop Strat-Talk Member

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    Learn to play like John McVie (he mixes it up between pick and fingers).

    You’ll either be way too much or not quite enough, which is a good place to be. Either way, Clapton became God, Peter Green became better than God, Mick Taylor became good enough for the Stones, and Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan, and Lindsey Buckingham became Hall of Farmers with him on bass.
     
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  20. davidKOS

    davidKOS unavailable Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Excellent player - used a pick early on for things like the solo on "My Generation", but developed a 4-finger right hand style that was amazing.

    The Yes bass sound(s) were great - but Squire biamped his stereo Rick output and used a set of bass pedals for extra bottom. Plus he was singing harmony much of the time he played those killer bass lines.

    He also developed his style partially influenced by Entwistle, during the period Ox was playing a Rick and still using a pick in the early-mid 60's.

    For certain sounds and styles a pick is great. I can set my Yamaha BX-1 to come pretty close to a Rick tone, and I use roundwound strings on all my basses except the Beatle bass copy, which sounds most Paul-like with flats.

    All the bassists mentioned above were masters at keeping a groove AND playing melodic, interesting bass lines.
     
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