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Thumbpick Bass Guitar With Fingerpicks

Are you interested in playing bass guitar with thumbpick and fingerpicks? You can now learn this unique technique! Get these completely personalized courses with lessons tuned exactly to your playing skill level, your musical taste! The courses come with brief instructions, exercises with tablature/standard notation and backing tracks. Playing bass with fingerpicks and a thumbpick is not limited to only certain genres. This versatile playing style will help your basslines shine through the mixes of rock, metal, funk, jazz, country, folk– or world music, just to name a few. It’ll also enhance your tone in a certain way during your live performances. This playing technique combines the advantages of both regular fingerstyle playing and playing with a pick. The attack of your notes will be much more forward and clear. You will also be able to achieve a greater level of freedom regarding the ability of polyphonic expression. You will be able to play not only chords, but also multiple lines at once. If you ever wanted to be a solo bassist who’s as capable of laying down a steady, grooving low end as playing meaningful, melodic pieces in the higher register with their own accompaniment, the thumbpick+fingerpicks technique tutorial might just be the perfect choice for you!

Curious about my Thumbpick+Fingerpicks Bass Story?

I play bass guitar with a thumbpick and fingerpicks. That is just my confession, not bragging. Is playing bass this way unique? Well, it is, quite a bit. But why? Is it so rare to find thumbpick bass or fingerpick bass players because this playing style is impractical? Nope. It’s simply because playing bass with this little piece of plastic or metal hasn’t become popular, and people are hive minded. There ya have it. I can only name a few thumbpick bass players off the top of my head. Chas Chandler of The Animals (quite some memorable bass lines), the great jazz player Dominique Di Piazza, Mario Cipollina, former member of the tuneful band Huey Lewis & the News, or Jack Blades known from the wonderfully melodic rock band Night Ranger. They don’t, or didn’t use fingerpicks though, and Dominique Di Piazza stopped using a thumbpick as well, for quite a while now. Note that many of these players are pretty much groove players and not necessarily known for their solos or what you would call a virtuoso bass style. And that clearly shows you that fingerpick playing on bass guitar is not just a gimmick. It can certainly become your bread and butter playing style, if you keep a disciplined focus on it. So will bass guitar played with thumbpick and fingerpicks ever get more popular? No idea, but we can sure as hell give it a try! But anyway…

What are these picks good for?

When it comes to art, the advantages shouldn’t necessarily outweigh the disadvantages, we can do things “just because”. But performing art like playing music does have a practical side as well. So let’s look at the benefits of playing with fingerpicks and a thumbpick. The first and most obvious such advantage is the pick attack. If you ever drooled over the beautiful, aggressive attack of some rock bassists like Chris Squire or Andy West, you know what I’m talking about. The hard material of a pick releasing the string – especially a roundwound string – can bring out extra harmonic content and enhance the midrange as well. And when I say hard material, a metal thumb pick like the Dunlop nickel silver one does wonders to the pick attack on bass. The one pictured in this article is a plastic Hosco by the way, but it’s exactly the same as the Golden Gate GP-8, an extra large celluloid one with pearloid texture. Another important positive aspect is that you get all the freedom of fingerstyle playing, because you can pluck the strings with multiple fingers, even at once. It opens up the possibilities for easy double stops or even piano-like chords. Something that’s not easy to do with a flatpick (although not impossible either). It’s also much easier to play big intervals without having to work out strategies for skipping strings like when you play with a pick. So what’s the main drawback? Check below.

Picks on your fingers? Focus on muting!

Probably the biggest difference from playing with bare fingers, and also the greatest challenge is to get clean, well separated notes with the fingerpicks. The awkward ringing noise of adjacent, just released or previously played strings can ruin the sound of an otherwise fluid playing technique, quite badly. Because of that, muting or as steel players call, blocking becomes a very important part of your bass playing. Speaking of them steelers, you can learn a lot from pedal steel, console steel, lap steel and dobro players when it comes to string blocking. And the long sustain of the bass guitar strings will require all that knowledge. An approach that surely works is palm muting, in a controlled way. It’s achieved with the palm of the picking hand, stopping the strings you don’t play. While pick blocking gets mentioned quite a bit among steel players, it’s actually quite difficult to stop a vibrating string with a hard pick without getting an annoying harmonic. Most of the time you also get a well audible “click”, as the pick hits the string. You can give it a try though, maybe it works for you. Another approach to muting is done with the fretting hand. While it sounds obvious, switching to thumbpick & fingerpicks coming from bare fingerstyle might result in a steep learning curve regarding fretting hand muting. Eventually, you’ll learn to do a lot more with those fingers than just fretting notes on the fingerboard.

Why I play with a thumb pick + 3 fingerpicks

I started out with a flatpick as a kid, on acoustic guitar. I never got too good with it, but I wasn’t too bad either. Pretty quickly after learning the basics I started playing with what they call a hybrid picking style. It involves using the pick and some of the fingers as well (the middle and ring fingers in my case). At one point I even put two plastic fingerpicks on my middle & ring fingers. That was my introduction to the fingerpicks, and it worked quite well. But soon after that, I bought my first thumbpick… and I didn’t like it. I tried to shorten the blade of it as it usually happens with people who just get into thumb picks, but shortly after it, I just gave up and went to fingerstyle, played with bare fingers. On bass I started with a flatpick as well, and quickly after that I went to the usual two fingers plucking style, the one originating from double bass playing. And then switched back to pick playing again for a little while, finally ending up playing bass with the closed palm picking style I was already doing on guitar as well. This bare fingers style with a touch of nails worked really well on both electric guitar and bass guitar. But after more than a decade, I got back into acoustic guitar playing, and the bare fingers + a little nail just wasn’t cutting it. It wasn’t loud enough, nor the tone was satisfactory. So I tried the fingerpicks and the thumbpick again, and this time I was sticking with it. After a couple months of patient but persistent trying, I suddenly leveled up and it started working! The learning process is so interesting when it comes to things like that, cause the constant trying, the persistent but not forced training turns out to be fruitful and gifts you with the knowledge you didn’t previously have. So since I was good enough with the fingerpicks on guitar, it was logical to use the very same picking style on bass as well. And it required little adjustment going from one instrument to another, except the above mentioned muting. That’s really crucial on bass.

What you’re getting in your personalized thumbpick+fingerpicks bass course:

thumbpick fingerpick bass technique

Special technical instructions

  • Thumbpick & fingerpick advices, tips
    You'll get essential help on how to wear the thumbpick and the fingerpicks, what kind of picks to choose for the kind of tone you want to achieve, and what fits the genre/style you play the best.
  • Hand & arm position, picking position
    You will get great advice on where it is the most comfortable and effective to pick with the fingerpicks regarding the length of the strings, and how to place your arm and picking hand on the bass.
  • Muting techniques
    You will receive important instructions and tips on muting techniques, regarding both the fretting and the picking hand, the role of your fretting fingers, the importance of your palm and how to utilize the picks themselves.
thumbpick fingerpick bass tablature

Bass tabs with standard notation

  • Detailed bass tablatures with standard notation
    Your thumbpick + fingerpicks bass course comes with high quality, detailed bass guitar tabs, including standard music notation. You get Guitar Pro and Adobe PDF files of the tablatures, with tempo, time signature and key markings. Both the rhythm and the pitches are notated as accurately as possible. The chord letterings are indicated where they are needed.
  • Tabs & exercises fine tuned for special aspects of thumbpick & fingerpicks technique
    This technique requires a distinct approach to the bass guitar, and you'll get tabs that highlight exactly that. The exercises point out how to play lines on non-adjacent strings, how to play double stops & chords. They also show you how to execute special techniques like reverse rasgueados, fingerpick galloping, tremolo or hit harmonics.
  • Tablatures aimed at correct muting
    While in the instructions part you get familiar with the technical aspects of muting techniques regarding this technique, you will also receive useful exercises that are zeroed in on this aspect of the fingerpick+thumbpick bass playing style.
thumbpick fingerpick bass backing track

Bass play-alongs, backing tracks

  • Helpful, professional sounding backing tracks
    You get backing tracks that help your ears so you can play the exercises & pieces you receive. These bass play-alongs are essential guides when you attempt to practice what's written in the tabs. They are mixed and mastered professionally and contain the right amount of instrumentation with the arrangement needed for your bass lines to sit perfectly, without disturbing overlaps. They also help you establish and maintain the groove, or allow your solo bass melodies to sit and shine on top of the track.
  • The bass lines themselves are showcased as well
    You don't only receive the bass backing tracks, but for each one of them, I will also play the actual bass line. It means you don't have to rely solely on the tabs alone, and you'll also get a feel for how it is possible to actually play the bass line in question. You will also get familiar with the tonal possibilities of the thumbpick+fingerpicks bass techniqe and the way it sits in a particular arrangement, even before you could fluidly replicate these exercises.
  • Backing tracks at different tempos, lengths, for different genres, when requested
    We can provide you with backing tracks for any particular exercise at different tempos, so you can raise the tempo as you get more and more familiar with the technique. We can also make you longer backings, if you want to be able to practice not only your playing skills but your stamina as well. It's also possible for you to get a play-along created with different styles in mind, so even the same chord progression can be transformed to serve different music genres.