BASS LESSONS: playing bass with a pick

Playing bass with a pick is possible?

Obviously yes, since there are many famous bassists who have done it successfully for years.
In fact, the bass was played with pick already at its trees, when, attracted by the charm of the new instrument  many guitarists were also to get close to the instrument.

Over the years, however, it was the bass players who brought the instrument more to the fore, and consequently the most used technique became unquestionably that of the pizzicato.
Now I honestly can not tell you exactly when, but at some point in the story, they began to play the bass with the plectrum.

And the technique has come up to the present day, by those who mainly play rock and similar.
Playing the bass with a plectrum is unquestionably something that is used more in aggressive settings, such as in metal, or in the rock of the 90s, a period in which many bassists who chose this technique flourished. Just think of Duff McKagan from Guns’n Roses or Krist Novoselic (Nirvana), just to name two of the most famous.

So, in my opinion, if we decide to be a complete bass player, nowadays we can not ignore playng bass with a pick.

So, how, if we want to learn how to play bass with a plectrum?
First of all, I remind you that I already wrote an article a long time ago about it; you can find it in italian version of my website, as soon as possible i’m goin to translate it.

If you have decided to deepen the subject and seriously try to learn how to play bass with a pick, then here I suggest you some nice songs to study to better manage this technique.
I ordered them from the simplest to the most difficult; consider trying to learn them in full once you’ve seen the main riffs I suggest you here.
The scores, as always you find them in download (remember to register if you have not already done so).

The first on the list is “Lithium”, by Nirvana. The part itself is not difficult, rhythmically it is quite simple and repetitive; try to “calculate” the picking and highlight the ghost notes of the right hand (R.H.G. on the score), which you get by giving a blow to the string with the pick without letting out an intoned note.

As a second piece I propose “Longview” of Green Day. The difficulty in playing this song with the pick is mainly due to the fact that the rhythm is “shuffle”, which is not easy to manage with the pick. I recommend only picking down on the part in quarters, while where you find the 2 eighths (tercets) alternate your picking. Pay attention to playing the beats of the last bar correctly.

The third song is “My friend of misery”, a Metallica song contained in the black album. The initial arpeggio Newsted played it with a guitar-style picking arpeggio. From a rhythmic point of view they are all sixteenths, so be careful not to lose the rhythm and to study the part slowly before playing it at its speed.

The second place I reserved for a Guns’n Roses masterpiece: “Paradise city”, from the album “Appetite for destruction”. On this riff there is little to say, if not to pay attention to the alternation of picking that, given the speed, can help you a lot. As always, waste time practicing at reduced speeds to better study each and every movement.

And in the first place, by difficulty, I put “Cupid’s dead”, Extreme song from “3 sides to every story”; it is worth all I have just said for Paradise city, but it increases the technical difficulty; eye to the fingerings, both of the right and the left.

Did you like these songs? Would you like to study others?

Let me know, write me an email or take a ride on my YouTube channel or on my social networks; I remind you that the scores are being downloaded, while in the store you will find my first book “The electric bass from A to F