Fingers vs. Picks

Alice Cooper co-founder and Hall Of Fame inductee Dennis Dunaway answers your questions!

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Dannorama
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Fingers vs. Picks

Post by Dannorama » Fri Apr 08, 2022 12:29 am

This is a two-parter. Please share your philosophy regarding fingers and picks.

For the casual reader, there are bassists who only use their fingers to pluck the strings, and others who choose to use a pick. One guy I know said that the pickers are more into rock, and the pluckers are more influenced by jazz. That always made sense to me, considering the "upright bass" over "electric."

Do you think there is any validity to that notion? Secondly, will you please tell us if there are any songs that you recorded using fingers alone? (Full disclosure: I love your picking style. You are absolutely one of the best rock bassists of all time.)
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Re: Fingers vs. Picks

Post by Dreary » Fri Apr 08, 2022 3:02 am

There's no question that flesh against a bass string gets a solid, round, full-bodied sound which has served multitudes of great bassists for most any style of music, including rock.

Most of the bass players that I admire play with their fingers, but that doesn't mean that I want to sound like them. I do what moves me personally.

I prefer the percussive sound of a slightly flexible pick. It has a bit of a growl. That's my signature sound.
Does that mean I urge other bassists to use a pick? Not at all. Not unless that sound hits home with them.

A pick isn't the only way to get bass to sound percussive. Hello, Entwistle! And using a pick doesn't mean you can't get a big solid sound - reggae!

I think I may have tried a rubber pick on "Alma Mater" but I'm not sure that I actually recorded the song with it. Basically, every Alice Cooper song I've recorded has been with a "Ghastly Green" Herco Pick. 99% of those notes are firm downstrokes near the bridge.

Occasionally, I play with my fingers when I'm rehearsing on my own, or to help me get a different perspective when I'm writing. Or when I drop my pick.

All that said, technical stuff has never been my main focus. I've always been for more interested in deciding what notes to play.

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Re: Fingers vs. Picks

Post by Dannorama » Fri Apr 08, 2022 2:50 pm

Thanks for anticipating my next question. I assume you mean the rounded triangular shape Herco pick. My son goes back and forth between fingers and picks, depending on the song. He uses a similar pick on his bass, but it's not textured like the Herco. I'll let him know what you said!
By the way, he's known about you all his life. He grew up with you, JPJ and John Deacon. His tastes have since gone more to the 90's guys, but he is well rooted, and thinks it's awesome that you are doing this. Me too! Thanks again, Dennis!
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Re: Fingers vs. Picks

Post by Dreary » Fri Apr 08, 2022 4:42 pm

Yes, that Herco pick you posted the link for is the one I used. I used to have tons of them, but now they're scarce and I'd love to find more.

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Re: Fingers vs. Picks

Post by Dannorama » Fri May 06, 2022 12:18 pm

Man! You sure have exclusive taste in picks. I have been looking online for that Herco GG pick, and HOLY MOTHER. They are either (A) not available, or (B) exorbitantly expensive. Now it's become my quest to find them. You bastard!
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Re: Fingers vs. Picks

Post by Daggers & Contracts » Fri May 06, 2022 11:32 pm

Dannorama wrote:
Fri May 06, 2022 12:18 pm
Man! You sure have exclusive taste in picks. I have been looking online for that Herco GG pick, and HOLY MOTHER. They are either (A) not available, or (B) exorbitantly expensive. Now it's become my quest to find them. You bastard!
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Re: Fingers vs. Picks

Post by Dannorama » Sat May 07, 2022 1:21 am

You’re right, D&C. I apologize. Dennis, even though you’re a stinky poo-poo, we all still love you.
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Re: Fingers vs. Picks

Post by Dreary » Tue May 17, 2022 5:04 pm

Dannorama wrote:
Sat May 07, 2022 1:21 am
You’re right, D&C. I apologize. Dennis, even though you’re a stinky poo-poo, we all still love you.
No offense taken. It's a curse to suggest looking for those Herco picks. I suspect that the existing ones out there might be brittle from age, anyway. I've tried before, and think I'll try again, to talk Dunlop into making something similar, however, the bass pick market is far from the most profitable.

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