Bass & trailing edge picking: my progression

I haven’t seen too many people here use trailing edge picking (or anyone other than @tommo on bass), so I figured I’d start this thread to document my (hopeful) progression.

I had some experience in the past with trailing edge, but I stuck with leading edge picking because the attack is, in my opinion, more conducive to aggressive playing styles (which I play a ton of). I never really play anything on guitar that needs a smooth attack.

But on BASS…

Leading edge picking is just too much pick noise. It works for me if I have a distorted sound going (which I love), but I love very clear, clean tones even more. I tried picking up fingerstyle, but it’s just too much coordination (and planning) to play fast lines. I might as well use the techniques I already have to play fast stuff on bass!

Here’s my baseline video, recorded this afternoon. I need to get used to trailing edge movements again, holding the pick, muting, fanned frets… All that jazz.

Just mindless noodling for 30 seconds.


Little update: I wanted to find something “hard” on bass that would be easy for me to learn, so I figured I’d just play guitar lines from songs I know. I’m working on a unison line with the prechorus from Dream Theater’s Home.

Random candid jamming, I’m messing up the middle of it where (on guitar) Petrucci shifts positions twice. Ideally I want to be able to just go up another string on bass. Also the end of the riff I transposed it up a fret accidentally, but ideally I’m trying to jump down an octave.

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Was doing some tone experimentation with a riff that might be considered DBX: 3 nps on E then A strings, 2 nps on D, then back to A. Pretty stoked that the picking transient is pretty tame for how clean the tone is, also felt comfortable for the speed (175 BPM 16ths).

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You’re shredding that bass man :grin: What do your thumbs look like? Like can you flex it far?
I don’t think I could do this as my thumb is not very flexable

Have you ever tried the two tribes bass line? Frankly go to Hollywood
It’s got a shifting alternate picking pattern if you use pure alternate picking. From inside to out. And string skipping. It’s a great, hard (imo) excersice.

And I understand what you’re saying about the attack, Trailing edge picking has a hook like grip to it that gives a real hard attack, I’ve tried it quite a bit but my hands just aren’t compatible with it :frowning:

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@WhammyStarScream thanks! I’ll have to check out that song, but I recorded a video to answer your question:

Of note, I feel like I’m not trying to hyperextend the last joint of my thumb as I play (and you can see in the vid that I can pull my thumb back farther than I’m holding it).

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You can definitely flex more than me, I’m sure you know Shawn lane, have you seen Joshua Jones ?

Tosin Abasi is another with that trailing edge picking technique. Tbh mate I wish I could do this type of picking :open_mouth:

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@WhammyStarScream definitely know of Shawn Lane and Tosin Abasi, never heard of Joshua Jones though. It’s looking like Tosin and Joshua hold the pick parallel to the nail bed (for lack of a better term / description) whereas Shawn would hold it closer to the end of the thumb, nearing perpendicular to the nail. I hold it more like Shawn; I’m pretty sure it requires much less thumb flexibility.

Working on a few things:

  1. Tone (always).
  2. Being able to hold the pick in the most ideal way right off the bat. I feel like on guitar I can do that pretty instinctually, but I’m still honing in on that with bass.
  3. I love these kinds of “rakes” on acoustic, so getting them as clean as possible on bass.
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Sounding really good man. Too bad you’re on the other side of the country. Bassists that can play metal/metalcore/shred are impossible to find

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@guitarenthusiast thanks man, I appreciate it! I’m always down to collaborate remotely, it’s what I’m mostly trying to do now lol. The main reason I got into bass is because it’s so hard to find a good bassist, might as well try to fill in that void in recordings myself… But I’ll never play drums as good as Mr. Superior Drummer.

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One artist that early on made me want to pick up the bass is Jamiroquai; the bass is such a dominant instrument in those songs, and the lines are always sick. The “straight octave” funk groove is pretty easy with a pick, but the “triplet” feel (I’m not sure if that’s what it’s called) is a nightmare. I ended up using a D - hammer on - U picking pattern; definitely took some timing and pinky strength, but I’m loving the results!


I keep meaning to learn more “shred” bass lines but not too many that I can think of, so I figure I start playing some of my favorite Dream Theater unison lines:

This pattern feels oddly reminiscent of “Universal Mind”, similar phrasing and I think the same tempo (156 BPM)? Would probably be a good “cross trainer” if you’re learning it; don’t have to skip strings, but does require position shifts and odd tempos.

The biggest challenge for me was getting used to that little silence in the playback (I think it adds a little bit of a lag) before the song starts!

PS: I found that YouTube on desktop lets you choose custom playback tempo ranges, useful for learning things and slowly ramping up!


Thats great man :grin: I’m wondering do you find bass has helped your guitar at all? I remember Troy talking about adapdation in terms of changing scales, as in size. Like changing your mouse dpi from high to low, it increases adaptation and learning. I’ve not got a bass but perhaps I should buy one…

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This is really interesting to me as I was recording bass recently for some of my own stuff and found the pick noise really bothered me. So I ended up using a more rounded picking with almost no edge picking. It wasn’t hard stuff though! Makes me want to give trailing edge a go. I’ve never tried it before

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100 dollar p or jazz bass knock off at glarry, why not.


I purposely didn’t start playing bass “seriously” until I felt pretty comfortable at the stuff I wanted to do on guitar, mostly I was afraid I would not be able to differentiate the two instruments and technique would get messed. Since I started, I gave up on fingers and switching to picks made it a better time tradeoff, since I didn’t have to learn a whole different skill set to play. It’s helped in that I don’t always want to play guitar, so picking up a bass gives a similar stimulus while still being fun, since you’re able to play so many sick bass lines! The role in music is different, so it forces you to think as a more foundational aspect of what you listen to.

You have nothing to lose, give it a shot!

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I hate that I can’t do this well, as it’s what Chris Poland did to get such clear notes. He does it three finger grip and has that powerful attack.

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I always forget that Chris does trailing edge! Love his playing!

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Meant to update this a while ago! Some clips of me trying to nail tones of songs I dig, particularly by players that are known to use fingers only. I lucked out and found bassless tracks!

Missed a couple notes while jamming out on this one:

This one was cool because I never realized how much forearm rotation / elbow movement I use. I also went an octave lower in the “breakdown” and it felt / sounded awesome to me:


I’d always sort of idly looked at Poland’s hand and thought “ah, Benson grip” but actually looking at this video it looks like thumb and second finger with the first finger not on the pick.