Can You Use a Pick on the Bass Guitar? (Answered)

Find out if you can use a pick on a bass guitar. Read about the different ways of playing the bass guitar and benefits of using a pick.

Image of a guitar and a pink guitar pick on top. Source: rombo, pexels

I’ve been asked this question countless times: can you use a pick on a bass guitar? The answer is a resounding yes, but as any good producer will tell you, it’s all about how you use it. See, the bass guitar is a versatile instrument. And while some purists may scoff at the idea of using a pick on a bass, I’m here to tell you that it can add a whole new dimension to your playing.

In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of using a pick on a bass guitar and offer some expert tips on making the most of this versatile playing technique. Buckle up, and let’s dive in!

Can you use a pick on a bass? Yes! You can definitely use a pick on a bass guitar in a home recording studio. In fact, using a pick can provide the player with more control over the attack and dynamics of their playing, which can be useful when trying to achieve a particular sound or when playing with a tight, punchy rhythm. However, you will not be able to get that funky, soapy sound that the bass is so well known for. 

Why would a bassist use a guitar pick?

You’re a bassist recording in your home studio, and you’re looking to add some punch and clarity to your playing. You’ve tried playing with your fingers, but the sound just isn’t cutting through the mix the way you want it to. That’s where a guitar pick comes in.

Image of a guitar and a pink guitar pick on top. Source: rombo, pexels
Image of a guitar and a pink guitar pick on top. Source: rombo, pexels

Using a pick on your bass guitar can provide several benefits in a home recording studio setting. For one, it can give you more control over the attack and dynamics of your playing, allowing you to add more definition and punch to your sound. Additionally, using a pick can help produce a brighter, more defined sound that can cut through a mix and add clarity to a recording.

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Image of a guitar and a pink guitar pick on top. Source: rombo, pexels
My favorite MIDI keyboard (at the moment):

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

Can you use a pick on the bass guitar? (answered) | 717qmgla7zl. Ac sl1500 | audio apartment
My favorite MIDI keyboard (at the moment):

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

I’m loving the AKAI MPK Mini MK3 for its compact design and the range of controls. It’s one of my essential tools. The velocity-sensitive keys and MPC-style pads are great for making beats, while the thumbstick and knobs give me precise control.

What are some disadvantages of using a pick on a bass guitar?

There are also some disadvantages to using a pick on a bass guitar in a home recording studio. For one, some bass players may find that using a pick limits their ability to play more nuanced, expressive passages, which can be important when trying to capture the right mood or emotion in a recording.

Additionally, using a pick can produce a sound that may not always fit the desired vibe of a particular recording, particularly if the player is trying to achieve a warmer, rounder tone. But let’s be real. The biggest disadvantage of using a pick on a bass guitar in a home recording studio is that it just doesn’t look as cool because of the stigma.

Image of a black guitar and a green guitar pick. Source: rombo, pexels
Image of a black guitar and a green guitar pick. Source: rombo, pexels

Is it bad to play bass using a pick?

Some bass players find that using a pick can limit their ability to play more nuanced, expressive passages. Playing with the fingers allows for a wider range of tonal variation and can provide a warmer, more rounded sound. However, it can require more practice and skill to develop the necessary finger strength and control.

Ultimately, whether or not it is “bad” to play bass with a pick is a matter of personal preference and depends on the individual player’s goals and musical style. Some bass players may find that using a pick enhances their playing, while others may prefer to stick with fingerstyle playing.

Why do some bassists hate picks?

There could be several reasons why some bass players may not like using picks. For starters, using a pick can produce a brighter, more defined sound that may not always fit the desired vibe of a particular recording. Additionally, some bass players may find that using a pick limits their ability to play more expressive passages.

…it comes down to the player’s unique inclination and what seems most natural and at ease to them.

But let’s be real. The most likely reason is that using a pick just feels (and looks) plain awkward for some bass players. It can take a lot of time to get used to holding and playing with a pick, and if a bass player is used to playing with their fingers, it can be a bit of a struggle to adjust.

Plus, let’s face it, using a pick just doesn’t have the same cool factor as laying down some funky fingerstyle bass grooves. As a result, it comes down to the player’s unique inclination and what seems most natural and at ease to them.

If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “Should you play bass with a PICK? (let’s end this B.S argument for good)” from the Scott’s Bass Lessons YouTube channel.

A video called “Should you play bass with a PICK? (let’s end this B.S argument for good)” from the Scott’s Bass Lessons YouTube channel.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions about whether you can use a pick on a bass guitar? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions.

How do I choose the best pick for my bass guitar?

Choosing the right guitar pick for bassists in a home recording studio involves several considerations. Comfort is paramount, as an uncomfortable pick can be distracting. Material and thickness also play a role in the tone and attack of the instrument. Softer picks made of materials like nylon or celluloid create a mellow sound, ideal for laid-back playing. Conversely, harder picks made of metal or stone produce a bright, sharp sound suited to more aggressive playing styles.

Are guitar picks and bass guitar picks the same?

No. Guitar picks and bass picks have significant differences. Bass picks are larger and thicker than guitar picks, providing greater comfort for bass playing. The size difference also produces a different tone and attack. Bass picks are often made of softer materials like nylon or celluloid, giving a warmer tone, while guitar picks are usually made of harder materials like metal or stone, producing a brighter, more defined sound. Guitar picks are often the best choice for picking.

How does picking affect the bass strings?

Picking a bass guitar can have an impact on the strings, particularly if the player is using a lot of force or playing with a heavy pick. When a bass string is picked, the pick strikes the string, causing it to vibrate and produce sound. The harder the pick strikes the string, the more the string vibrates and the louder the resulting sound.

Conclusion

Whether you prefer to play with a pick or with your fingers, the key is to practice regularly and continue to improve your technique. The most important thing is to find the approach that works best for you and to focus on developing your skills in that area.

So if you’re a bass player who loves the sound of a pick and doesn’t mind sacrificing a little bit of expressiveness for the sake of a punchier tone, then feel free to use a pick! After all, music is all about experimentation and finding what works for you. Just remember to have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously, especially when recording in your home studio.

So, do you use a pick when playing the bass guitar? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, share it with a friend, and check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on music production. Thanks for reading, and never stop making music.

Key takeaways

This article covered whether you can use a pick on a bass guitar. Here are some key takeaways:

  • There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to using a pick on a bass guitar.
  • Using a pick can give the bass player more control over the attack and dynamics of their playing.
  • Using a pick can produce a sound that may not always fit the desired vibe of a particular recording, particularly if the player is trying to achieve a warmer, rounder tone.
  • Playing the bass guitar with a pick can require more practice and skill to develop the necessary finger strength and control.

Helpful resources

Image Andrew Ash
Written by Andrew Ash, Staff Writer

Hey there! My name is Andrew, and I'm relatively new to music production, but I've been learning a ton, and documenting my journey along the way. That's why I started this blog. If you want to improve your home studio setup and learn more along with me, this is the place for you!

Nick eggert.
Edited by Nick Eggert, Staff Editor

Nick is our staff editor and co-founder. He has a passion for writing, editing, and website development. His expertise lies in shaping content with precision and managing digital spaces with a keen eye for detail.

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