Should You Play Bass Guitar With a Pick?

One of the biggest areas of debate among musicians is how to get the best tone. Plenty of effects and techniques can help shape your sound, but for a bass guitar player no technique is more controversial than playing with a pick (or plectrum).

That's because most of us have seen bass players using nothing more than their fingers to play the instrument. New players are more likely to repeat the same style of playing that they see their idols use, which means that few bass players venture outside the box to try different techninques. Closed minded thinking like that could be hurting your playing and even songwriting.

No doubt, finger style bass playing works and helps create a raw and rumbling low end that provides the foundation of any song. The problem with finger style bass playing is that it can sound muddy in the studio when recording.

That's why several notable bass players play with a pick - they say they get a punchier sound that's easier to record when producing a song. Megadeth bass player Dave Ellefson said that when recently recording, he was experimenting with finger style playing and the sound engineer asked that that he go back to a pick because it sounded better.

Other bass players have made their mark on the music industry with the help of a pick: Sting, Gene Simmons from Kiss, even Paul McCartney from the Beatles all used a pick to play. That should prove that a talented musician doesn't close the door to new ways of thinking.

So should you play bass with a pick? It's up to you - but don't rule it out without giving it a try.