Playing Bass With Pick vs. Fingers: Which Is Better?


Playing bass with your fingers is often preferred, allowing for speedier playing and greater versatility when performing techniques like slapping or muting.

Using a pick can also produce an aggressive style and sharper tone but may present challenges when trying certain techniques like slapping or muting.

Many bassists prefer using a pick, also known as a plectrum. It allows for a faster and more precise playing style that’s especially helpful in genres like rock or metal music.

Furthermore, the pick produces sharper and brighter sounds, making it perfect when playing with distortion or in bands where the bass must stand out from other instruments.

On the other hand, fingerstyle playing provides a more organic and versatile sound.

This technique gives the bassist greater control over dynamics, tone, and attack – perfect for jazz, funk, and soul music.

Furthermore, fingerstyle bassists can easily play more complex patterns, making it an increasingly popular option in solo bass performances.

Both techniques have advantages that can be utilized effectively depending on the circumstances.

The most effective technique for playing bass depends on what feels most comfortable to each player.

Comparison of Playing Bass With Pick Vs Fingers

Bass Speed: Pick Vs Finger

The speed of playing bass guitar is crucial, especially because bassists must maintain the tempo. Understanding how to use different techniques to your advantage and how each style can vary is essential.

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Using Your Fingers

Fingerpicking is a popular technique for playing bass guitar, allowing for high-speed playing once you have sufficient practice.

Well-practiced two or three-finger patterns can help you achieve a significant amount of speed in your playing.

Using a Pick 

Using a pick is another technique for achieving speed and attack on the bass guitar. You can play the bass much faster with accuracy once you get comfortable with the pick.

However, using a pick can also present limitations, such as difficulty performing techniques like slapping or muting.

Bass Tone: Using Pick Vs Finger

By altering your playing technique, you can enhance the sound of your bass guitar. This is great for creating unique and diverse tones.

Using Your Fingers

Fingerstyle picking is an excellent technique for producing a warm and rounded sound, particularly useful when shifting strings frequently.

As most bassists employ their fingers, the general tone of a bass guitar is similar to that produced through finger plucking.

Using a Pick 

Using a pick when playing your bass guitar produces a clean and polished sound. Picks are precise in plucking only desired strings, minimizing noise.

Furthermore, using a pick produces a solid attack by eliminating harmonics or extraneous noise caused by inadequate fingerpicking techniques.

Bass Slapping: Pick Vs Finger

Slapping is a popular technique that is used when playing bass guitars due to the distinctive sound produced by the thick strings.

However, the method and tone of slapping can vary depending on the playing style.

Using Your Fingers

Most bassists use a combination of their thumb and palm to create the slapping sound while playing with their fingers.

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Learning and integrating multiple slapping techniques can improve your bass-playing skills.

Using a Pick

Typically, slapping is done using your thumb or fingers, but attempting to slap with a pick can be challenging as it can obstruct your finger or thumb.

Although learning to slap while holding a pick is possible, it requires a significant amount of practice to avoid interference from the pick.

What Is The Preferred Way Of Playing The Bass Guitar – With A Pick Or Fingers?

There is no single way of playing the bass guitar; any technique you choose – whether it be using fingers, pick, thumb or other methods – comes solely to personal preference.

Bassists may prefer one technique over another, but ultimately it should come down to what feels most natural and comfortable for each player.

Although the tone and sound of different techniques may differ, that should not be your only consideration when selecting your playing style.

What matters most when playing the bass guitar is how well you can play it and how much joy you get from it.

Whatever method you use – fingers, pick, or other – the most important thing is to practice and hone your skills until you achieve the desired sound and style.

What Are The Challenges Of Playing Bass With A Pick?

Playing bass with a pick can present some unique challenges and may not be suitable for everyone.

One such issue lies in the angle at which the pick is held – to create more grind, this may require holding it at an awkward angle that may not be comfortable over time.

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Another challenge of playing bass with a pick is the physical strain it places on your hand. Playing with an instrument for extended periods can be tiring and uncomfortable, particularly if your hand isn’t rested on the bridge.

Is It Acceptable To Use A Pick When Playing Bass Guitar?

Yes, using a pick when playing bass guitar is perfectly acceptable.

Many famous bassists used picks in their playing. Using a pick can provide a unique sound that can be difficult to achieve with fingers alone.

Using a pick on bass guitar is also a matter of personal preference.

Some bassists prefer the attack and precision a pick provides, while others prefer the warmth and expressiveness of finger plucking.

There is no right or wrong way to play the bass guitar; it ultimately comes down to what feels most comfortable and natural for the individual player.

Does Roger Waters Use A Pick When Playing The Bass Guitar?

Roger Waters is renowned for using a pick when playing the bass guitar, but he can also demonstrate versatility through fingerstyle techniques.

A multi-instrumentalist, Waters has also played acoustic guitars and electric rhythm in recordings and live performances.

In addition, he’s dabbled with electronic synthesisers such as the VCS 3 and EMS Synthi A. Waters’ diverse musical abilities and willingness to explore different techniques have contributed to his success as both musician and artist.

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