Picking it up…

I’ve always wanted to be able to play with a pick, and after seeing The Stranglers playing at the Cambridge Corn Exchange in March 2019, I decided that it was time to give it another go.

I’d got some picks I’d received as freebies from various sources, but these were all too flimsy for any serious bass playing. Some research told me that J-J Burnel from The Stranglers used Gibson Heavies, so anything which was good enough for him, was good enough for me.

2019-05-15 16.07.55 I duly ordered half a dozen heavy picks from DirtyRiffs.co.uk via Amazon. They came packaged in this nifty pick box:

2019-05-15 16.08.10

2019-05-15 16.08.26

Trouble was, the heavies weren’t heavy enough. Luckily, Fender turn it up to 11 with their Extra Heavies, which are just right for me.




2019-05-15 16.06.35

Whilst searching for picks on Amazon, I noticed that a company will engrave a stainless steel pick for you. Here’s mine. If you’re interested, here‘s the page.





Finally, in my Facebook group, someone mentioned Felt picks. Felt? Surely not. Well, they do exist. These came from China. They’re about four times the depth of a heavy pick and quite comfortable to use. The sound produced is a fairly gentle thump. Apparently they don’t last long though.



So how’s it going? Not badly as of the time of writing. I still can’t play as fast with a pick as I can with my fingers, and at rehearsals I’m often dropping the pick so I can carry on as before. I’ll get there though.

I’m still unsure of the best way to play. Make all the movement in my wrist, or use my lower arm. Either way is quite tiring at the moment!

Author: James's Bass Blog

Husband, Grandfather, IT Pro, IBM Notes geek, Bassist, Rocksmith custom creator, music buff.

5 thoughts on “Picking it up…”

  1. I bought two sets of Dunlop triangular picks from Dirty Riffs. I chose Dunlop Ultex and Dunlop Tortex.
    Why triangular picks? Because normal picks fell off my fingers.
    Since I paid for the transport, I chose a set of various thicknesses to test which one was best for me.
    Normally (when the song requires it) I use the Dunlop Ultex 1.14 plectrum.
    The Dunlop Tortex plectrum seems to have a softer attack.
    On felt tines, I have felt tines for the ukulele, but I didn’t know they were useful on a bass.
    On the steel pick, won’t it damage the string?


    1. So far, it does not look like the steel pick has damaged the string. I am sure that over time though it will have an effect. Brian May from Queen played with a coin as a plectrum and I’m sure that must have damaged his guitar strings after a while! I do like the sound which the felt plectrum makes on a bass. I have used one for about 6 songs now though and it is becoming slightly damaged.


  2. Coins are often alloys of different metals.
    For example, the English shilling was an alloy of copper and nickel (1947-1970) and the coating of a string is also a similar alloy.
    However, the steel seems harder than the coating of a usual nickel string set.
    I suppose that famous musicians (who also broke their guitars in front of the audience) have no problem in changing strings in each performance.
    I’m intrigued by the felt pick. I’ll try it too.


  3. Today I tried a felt pick (which I have for the ukulele) and liked it to use in romantic songs with soft notes.
    My felt pick is 3.60 mm. I suppose there will be several thicknesses and qualities.
    Thanks for the idea.


  4. I use a Dunlop Delrin 500 1.5mm. Been my favorite pick since forever, I started out as a metal guitarist and broke every other pick I tried in the 80s (I also like heavy guitar strings). I mostly play bass with my fingers, but when a pick is called for, the Delrin gets it done on bass, too.

    Liked by 1 person

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