How To Play Bass With A Pick - Essential Tips

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hi again mark here from talking based on

it last week we look to that cool riff

from whole lotta love by Led Zeppelin

and since then I've got asked loads of

questions about how to get started with

pick plane so today that's what we're

gonna do we're gonna look at some basic

tips on how to get started and five

riffs that should help ease you into the

technique remember you can access the

tab and backing tracks for this lesson

by visiting talking bass net so just

follow the link in the info below and

while you're there check out the lesson

map where you'll find hundreds more

lessons just like this one you can also

sign up for the free membership and

access tons of free practice resources

and ebooks so go check it out okay so

first of all here we have a pic there's

a whole bunch of different styles and

thicknesses this is a fairly like Dunlop

pick but I do have some heavier Alice

picks as well and it's just worth trying

loads of different ones just to find the

one that feels right for you in terms of

holding the pick you generally want to

hold it obviously between the thumb and

the first finger and there's two main

ways of doing this and I'm just gonna

call them a loose and tight grip okay so

first of all we'll look at the tighter

grip so you want to hold earth you want

to clench your face a very very like

fist bending the knuckles at this middle

joint here not at the base here so I've

kind of got this kind of thing going on

and the thumb is gonna be coming

alongside to to touch the index finger

then you want to place the pic there in

between the thumb and the first finger

obviously and the pic is gonna be coming

out at a bit of a right angle from the

thumb and you don't want much of the pic

sticking out it's you know there's only

a small amount of it there so we've got

this very very loose kind of fist there

and that's a good grip for playing

faster stuff and certainly more rock and

metal orientated stuff and definitely

for palm muting okay so it's a little

bit of a tighter grip then for the

looser grip that you would use a lot

more for general playing and certainly

for playing cards you can just loosen

off those fingers a bit so these aren't

curled over and we're not curling over

that first finger so much and then just

holding it a little bit looser okay

so okay but they're both very very


it's just that with one with the tighter

grip the fingers are more curled over

okay so that's two different ways of

just holding the pick but you know

you'll find your own where does this is

not set in stone at all it's just that I

find that going between those two

depending on what I'm playing you know

I'll just use one of the other like I

said depending on context in terms of

positioning of the hand on the base you

know you can play anywhere along the

string that's all determined by the tone

that you're looking for so back here at

the bridge that's gonna sound a lot

tighter and as you come forward you're

gonna get a much rounder sound a lot

more bottom end okay so very similar in

fact exactly the same as when your

finger picking that's all going to be

determined by the tone you want I

generally tend to have a go to position

of around the bridge so I like to stick

here and that's that helps for when I'm

gonna be going for palm muting so the

hand there I've got it pretty much

rested up against the against the bridge

there and then the arm the wrist is just

anchored very lightly against the

against the body and you want to have a

very relaxed hand an arm you want to

relax everything in there obviously

don't relax too much you'll drop the

pick but you want it to be quite relaxed

so you can see there I've got that hand

just roughly around the bridge and I'm

not keeping the hand anchored to the

bridge while I'm doing that in Italy you

know and off but just when I'm relaxed

there it's just sat there so that's one

of the positions to go for obviously if

you want to mob kind of boom around a

turn you're gonna be hanging around

closer to the neck so as a simple

exercise let's just try playing an open

E string and I'm just gonna play down

strokes we'll play straight sixteenths

so it's one E and a two E and A three E

and a four E and ER and that would sound

like this

so like I said very relaxed arm there

I'm very relaxed hand and you know a lot

of this is coming from the wrist but I

am putting a bit of the arm in there so

you want to try getting some accents in

there as well so try accenting on each

beat okay and that will help with a lot

of the stuff that's coming up so when

you accent on each beat you know that

you're gonna be playing in groups of

four okay

so that'll help with knowing the number

of notes that you're playing later on

where you are in the beat or in the path

so we have one two three four okay so

I'm accenting one E and two E and three

E and four okay now try accenting on

every two notes so we're gonna be on one

and the and okay so we're accenting

eighth notes so one two three

okay so we know we're playing groups of

two there so groups of four one two

three okay now let's try ultimate

picking so we're going to be playing

down stroke up stroke down stroke up

stroke so down stroke being obviously

down towards the floor and then up

stroke obviously back up okay so

one two three four

and as I said before you want to relax

the the hand in the arm but you want to

use a bit of the arm in there so think

of it as actually strumming the string

rather than picking the string because

you can get very very when you're

thinking picking you start you know

being very Wriston for me okay so when

you think strum you're gonna get more of

the arm in there okay so you don't want

to be you know hammering away with the

arm like this but I'm just using the arm

there to get a bit more beef in there

okay now let's try the a string now this

might be a little trickier because we've

got the strings above and the string

below so you need to be a little bit

more accurate okay so you can see there

I'm using this left hand to mute the DNG

string and I'm using the thumb there to

mute the a string just in case we get

any residual vibrations

okay so again try with the accents on

each beat one

and then on each 8th notes okay and when

you play the down strokes try to think

of them as plane down

okay so into the base so when I pick

down I've got that action moving in

towards the base because it's you know

you could theoretically pick out away

from the body like this

so when you playing the upstroke you're

actually coming back in no we're playing

into the body pick up with the down

strums okay and you'll feel there that

the down stroke is a little bit more

wrist orientated and then you know more

arm orientated on the upstroke

now let's just try it the d-string as

well so onto the d-string

and finally the g-string

okay so like I said it's more of a

strumming action than it is a picking


and I'm actually getting quite a bit of

the arm in there I'm really quite a bit

of movement obviously when we build up

speed that movement will be reduced

just to begin with we do have a little

bit more movement with the arm okay so

that's the basic technique now I'm gonna

work through five basic riffs each one

concentrating on the discipline

different aspect of the picking so the

tab and the tracks are all there to

download from talking bass net so just

follow the link in the info below and

the first riff sounds like this




so this riff is just an expansion of the

previous exercise we'll just point

straight sixteenth notes in there so the

first note in there is a G third fret of

the e-string we'll play that for a full

bar one two three four then we move to

b-flat first for a first fret of the

a-string for two beats one-e-and-a

two-e-and-a then we've got c third fret

of the a string for a beat

and then we move down to F and F sharp

for a beat each so we've got two notes

on each of those and that's it so G

b-flat C F F sharp G okay so that's the

whole thing now the well the big tip

that I can give you for playing

this is accent so accents on each of the

beats so one two three four one two then

when we get down to the FM e f-sharp

accent on each of the notes so we've got

two notes for each one saw accent accent

and then we're back so very slowly two


three four and okay so those accents

will help with keeping track of where

you are in the barrington you'll just

find it actually helps with the actual

motion of the picking


so it'll probably help with your

coordination a little so that's the riff

so you just want to try round and round

on that and really focus on the up

strokes you know that you get in those

nice and consistent and remember that I

am using a little bit of a strumming

action with this not obviously not

strumming across the strings but you

know I am thinking strong and with this

hand with the left hand very much like

slapping you know picking is very much

like slapping in terms of the fact that

you know we don't have the thumb to mute

a lot of the lower strings like we do

with finger picking with you know just

us with slapping this fretting hands got

to do a lot of the work so I'm actually

starting in my home position so remember

what I've said in previous lessons about

a home position you know you've got your

hand there you know just muting those

strings just in position and then we

just hold down the G there with the

fourth finger with the pinky and that

keeps everything nice and covered on the

a D and G strings so these other fingers

are they're held across the strings

then when we move to the to the b-flat

the second and third finger there are

kind of coming across to cover the e

string so that's not making any any

noise and it just keeps everything nice

and quiet you know a nice clean



so very minimal movements in the

fretting pan so begin really slowly with

that keeping everything nice and

consistent you want good time with it

and then try with the backing track

which again sounds like this



for if number two we're concentrating a

little on the upstroke so here's the

riff so on the face of it this is a

really simple riff but it does focus our

attention a little on the upstroke and

accenting that because we finish each of

each of the phrases on an upstroke so in

terms of the notes we've got a fifth

fret of the E string so just four notes

on there and we finish on the upstroke

sits down down top okay

then we move to the G third fret of the

E string and play so got two sets of two

notes again each one obviously finishes

on an upstroke so then exactly the same

thing on the a string so D fifth fret

and then C third fret okay and that's it

okay so we have so when you've come back

up on the upstroke remember we're not

accenting it necessarily but because

make you think about it you know the

fact that you're coming up and you're

using a bit more of the arm in there so

very slowly okay and remember what I

said earlier about the down you know

down into the body with the down stroke

with the accent and it's kind of a pull

action with the with the upstroke okay

so again just start slowly gradually

build up speed and then you can play

with the track


with number three concentrates on double

notes and sounds like this


so in terms of the notes were in the key

of G and we start on a G third fret of

the e-string we play that twice we play

a repetition or two notes for every note

in the riff so G then we move on to the

a string and have B C C sharp G okay

second third fourth and fifth fret then

exactly the same pattern up on the D

string E and F sharp second third fourth

fifth fret


okay then we move back down to the

a-string exactly the same set of notes

the C C sharp D 2nd 3rd 4th 5th fret

then finally we move down to the open E

string and we have B F F sharp G open

string 1st fret 2nd fret and then we're

back to the G back to the top of the

riff so very slowly


okay so very simple pattern and in terms

of the fretting hand there I'm just

using a warm finger per fret system so

I'm starting on the second finger for

the G and then it's just first finger

second finger third finger fourth finger

okay so the key to this riff is the

accents really you know how I said to

accent each of the each of the down

straws so we've got two notes each and

we just accent and then upstroke then


obstruct accent upstroke you don't have

to overdo the accent I'm not meaning

really you know slam it out there it's

just that we're really thinking of the

hit as we go down remember what I said

about using the army kind of pulling a

little with the year with the upstroke


and another little tip is that when I'm

moving across I'm actually using the

heel of the picking hand a little to

actually mute the lower strings as I

move up because it's hard to mute with

this and because we're using all those

fingers for the actual notes so there

when I move onto the issuing you can see

the the heel of this ham of the palm of

this hand is he's covering the e string

and then I just move it across a little

bit more to cover the Ian a string okay

you can see there I'm pushing down with

every down stroke and then pulling with

each upstroke


as you build up speed with that that's

when you'll realize where the use of the

arm comes into play and like I said

before it's not like a massive you know

I was strumming like this it's just a

little bit more movement from there a

little bit more pull with that arm okay

just to just to help with all of that

okay as always start out really slow

concentrate on good time and technique

and then build up speed


okay and then you can try with the track


thanks for with number four we're

looking at octaves so the riff sounds

like this



opposite patterns are really good for

building will be string skipping and

your sense of distance in terms of

crossing the strings so first of all

let's just try a simple octave so just a

D octave fifth fret a string 7th fret g

string so here I'm playing with the down

stroke for the a string and then an up

stroke for the g string and you can hear

there that I'm playing a held note for

the for the a string and then I'm

cutting it short

it's the carto for the for the g string

I'm starting in my home position you

know where we're holding the fingers

lightly against the strings I've got the

1st finger there over the a string of

lip the 4th finger there over the g

string and then these two fingers in the

middle the second and third finger are

kind of coming across to cover the e

string so then when I play it for the

lower notes of the octave these fingers

are still want that second finger there

they're still kind of covering the E

string to keep it quiet then when I play

the upper octave then I'm really using a

stabbing motion that pinky just try that


note I could get a little bit of getting

used to with me movements of the

downstroke a string and then for the

riff we've just got a bar of that date

then down to the C sore third fret a

string fifth fret g string then we move

down to the to the G so we've got third

fret E string and then fifth fret D


then we've got the a fifth fret E string

and seventh fret D string then C fourth

fret a string back up to the D and

that's it okay so remember all of this

transcribed in the lesser material just

follow that link in the info below

itself we've got okay

start out slow again build up speed then

play with the track



finally for riff number 5 we're going to

be looking at some palm muting and the

riff sounds like this so let's have a

look at palm muting so what we're going

to do is use the heel of this hand the

the picking hand there to lightly rest

against the strings and here I'm just

playing on the E string so I'm only

applying the palm muting to the E string

so they're around the bridge I've just

placed that heel of the of the palm

there and then I just pick and you can

hear that muted chunk so it'll take a

little bit of getting used to because

depending on the amount of pressure you

apply you know that will determine how

muted it sounds so and then just try

moving across across the strings there

just to get used to the position of the

hand then you can try the riff so we

begin the riff with this crossing of the

strings okay so we've got a e G so 5th

fret E string 7th fret a string 5th fret

D string and then 7th fret D string and

you have to get used to kind of moving

the hand that this this muting pad of

the hand across the strings there as you

go and then we move down to the G and

the a third fret fifth fret of the E

string ok then we move across onto the a

string and we have this so we have a

ghost note so I'm in home position for

this so there's the ghost not so and

then we play D to C fifth fret third

fret a string two notes on the D one

note on the C so course not and then the

D and then the C so so we've got ok so

that's the first part then we have the

same thing again and then F sharp to G

on the E string so about 2nd fret to 3rd

fret so and then we just leave the rest

of that bar blank so the whole thing


oops I messed up the ghost notes oh ok

so start up really slow like that then

build up speed and then you can try


okay so that's a few tips on getting

started with picking remember to like

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also remember to visit talking base net

where you can get download the tab and

the sheet music and the backing tracks

for this lesson and while you're there

check out the lesson map where you'll

find hundreds more bass lessons like

this one and you'll be able to subscribe

to the free membership where you'll find

lots of lots of different practice

resources and ebooks okay I'll see you

next week