Bass player reconstructing picking technique


I’m new to the site and the forums. I’m a rock/metal bass player that’s been playing fingerstyle for most of 30 years. Some early lessons, but mostly self-taught. I’ve watched the 11 episode series of Cracking the Code and am exploring some of the other material. I’ve played with a pick occasionally over the years, but never was able to get it to go very fast or sound very good. I stuck to playing harder less bendable picks, it was easier to feel and know where the tip was compared to the strings. I ended up focusing on small movements and was never really happy with the way it sounded.

I came to this site via Nolly’s (Periphery) masterclass on Scotts Bass Lessons. His entire approach was using lighter flexible picks and hitting the strings hard with big movements. He mentioned Cracking the Code specifically and points out where you can use downward pickslanting for playing some of his lines. I bought a bunch of picks of varying gauges, but found that tone sounded better the lighter the gauge and the harder I hit it. It turned out to work exactly like he said, the instrument gives more the harder you dig in. I started using downward pick slanting and all of a sudden I could play faster and hit the strings harder and sound rich and full. (I’m using a 0.6 mm Tortex now) It completely challenged all of my ideas on how things worked. My main focus now is to develop some of these picking techniques to make my playing more reliable and consistent. I’m a big fan of Tool, Dream Theater, Haken, Queensyrche.

I’m trying to work through my discomfort with “inside picking”. I’m experimenting with two-way pick slanting and it’s starting to feel more comfortable. The sense I get is that with the lighter gauge pick and the string spacing that a lot of these guitar techniques are exaggerated on the bass. The pick slanting angles I’m using are much more extreme than what I see in the guitar videos. I would love to see some examples of some of this stuff on bass.

Recently I stumbled on the discovery downward pick slanting with a large pick angle (leading edge picking) allows me to play much faster than I ever have. I was plateauing at ~130-150 with 16th notes. I pick a rest stroke on the low E string, the A string acts as a stop. If I angle it just right the A-string stops the pick just after the tip releases the string, limiting the motion. I just have to worry about how high the upstroke is. I can get to some previously unreachable speeds now at 180+ bpm.


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Can anybody comment on how guitar-centric the pick slanting primer is? Would I find the exercises applicable to bass?

The basic movements and principles should be relevant to all stringed instruments which are played with a plectrum. It could be a guitar, a bass guitar, a ukelele, a bouzouki, a mandolin. Maybe even the balalaika, the oud, the sitar and the sarod.

How readily applicable or easily modified the specific guitar techniques would be to any of those instruments is beyond my expertise.