Famous Bass Players Who Use a Pick


An electric bass can be played either with the fingers or with a pick. Several famous bass players in different styles of music have used a pick. Playing with a pick creates a sound that is a different from playing with fingers and suits some bass players more than it does others. Some bassists feel that hey have more control when they use a pick, and the sound of a picked bass has a more responsive high-end tone.

Roger Waters

  • Roger Waters is a founding member of Pink Floyd, a progressive rock band that was started in the 1970s. Waters is also a contributing songwriter and vocalist for the band. He typically plays Fender Precision basses with a pick, which gives him more control over his instrument. After the release of "The Final Cut" in 1982 Waters started out on a solo career, which has been active ever since.

Mark Hoppus

  • Mark Hoppus is a punk bassist that was a founding member of Blink-182. He later helped start the band Plus 44 with fellow Blink-182 member Travis Barker. He is also an active music producer. Pick playing is often conducive to punk rock bass riffs because they are typically very fast and repetitive. Thus, picking can provide a driving and consistent line from a bass, sounding more like a guitar than when played with the fingers, a sound that fits into the punk style.

Steve Swallow

  • Steve Swallow is a jazz bassist who has collaborated with many jazz artists including Jimmy Giuffre and Carla Bley. Swallow's custom electric bass does not include a thumb rest because he plays it exclusively with a pick. He also has other modifications on the bass such as a wider neck and a semi-acoustic design that is meant to help his pick style resonate. He is known for his melodic bass parts on the electric bass, but he also plays the upright bass finger style.

Paul McCartney

  • Paul McCartney is the well known bassist and one of the songwriters of the Beatles, and later, Wings. Throughout his music playing career, McCartney has switched between finger picking and using a pick, though he typically plays with a pick. He uses a pick to his advantage with hammer-ons and for slamming down on his bass to produce a heavy and distorted sound. McCartney plays his bass left handed and is known for a very steady left bass hand.

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