Bass Picks: All About Bass Guitar Picks!
Welcome to the world of Bass picks! Now you may or may not be aware but there’s an age old debate between musicians and bassists alike. This is the debate regarding using fingers or picks when it comes to playing the bass guitarists. Many (purists) believe Bass should not be played with a pick while others believe in picks. Whether you agree or disagree, bass guitar picks are here to stay.
Just like guitar picks there are a ridiculous amount of options out there. Where do you start you may ask? This guide will hopefully educate you when it comes to bass picks. Just remember, there is no right or wrong when it comes to bass picks.
What Gauge or Shape Bass Pick Do I Need?
Bassists generally use thicker picks as the thickness improves the bass guitar players control and overall tone of the string. Remember, bass guitar strings are much thicker than guitar picks so a thinner plectrum will give you much less control in comparison to a thicker plectrum. Having said that, there are still many bassists out there who do prefer to use thinner picks. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what sound and feel you want to achieve.
It may be best to write down a list of what you want to achieve and then review the bass guitar picks below. If you have absolutely no idea where to start, a gauge of 1 mm is a good place to get going. From there you can go up or down in gauge depending on your taste. On average, bassists tend to use gauges from 1- 2 mm.
When it comes to bass guitar pick shapes there are once again a fortune out there to choose from. However, it seems the two most popular shapes are the Triangle (Tri-tip) and the regular shape. Most plectrum brands give you an insane amount of shape and gauge options for bass picks. If you want to know more about guitar pick shape and gauge we suggest reading our Plectrum buyers guide here.
What Material Should my bass pick be?
The material you decide to go with will ultimately lend itself to the type of music you’ll be playing as well as the feel of the bass pick in your hands. Some of the more popular bass guitar pick materials include:
However, you can get bass guitar picks in almost all different shapes and sizes as well as a multitude of brands and manufacturers to choose from. For a more detailed explanation on different guitar pick materials, see out guitar pick buyer’s guide here
The Best Bass Picks on the Market
Dunlop Ultex: This bass pick by Dunlop has a sparkly and transparent sound. What does transparent mean? simply put, it makes less noise! Its exceptionally durable and should last a lifetime…unless you lose it in the washing machine. Even the heavier gauges of this range weigh next to nothing. Gauges include: 0.60, 0.73, 0.88, 1, 1.14. You can also get this ultex bass guitar pick in a triangle shape as pictured below. The tri-shape ultex bass plectrum is probably the most popular out of these two shapes. However, as a whole, the ultex material is loved by guitarists and bassists alike and is growing in popularity.
DUNLOP STUBBY PICKS
Stubby Bass Picks: These picks are really popular among bassists and surprisingly popular among guitarists too. They’re thick! The lightest gauge is 1.0mm! It’s made from some material called “Lexan”, got an awesome moulded grip and your tone will cut through the mix. Despite it’s thick and large size, the stubby picks allow the guitarists to play much faster whilst maintaining maximum control. The Triangular shape stubby is the most popular once again however many bass guitar players like .The regular shape stubby as pictured below. Another fantastic thing about the stubby bass guitar picks are their ability to last much longer than other picks. Gauges of the stubby picks include: 1.0mm , 2.0mm, 3.0mm.
V-pick: The whole V-pick range is the best kept secret on the guitar pick market, I say it’s a best kept secret but a lot of people know of them. Played by greats such as Santana and ZZ Top this pick is great for lead and rhythm. My on gripe is it’s transparent so chances are you’ll probably lose it haha! These are great for a wide range of genres and as thick as 4.10mm. Don’t let the thickness put you off, you’ll get used to it in no time and realize the benefits. A great feature with these is the grip, once your fingers get warmer the grip improves and it becomes very difficult to drop this bass guitar pick.
Dunlop Tortex Bass Picks: This pick has a sharp tip and makes for exceptionally accurate playing. It’s literally a part of Rock history. It’s got a fantastic grip and great sound which the tortex picks have become so well known for for decades now. Tortex bass guitar picks come in so many different shapes and colors. Gauges of the Tortex bass picks range from 0.50, 0.60, 0.73, 0.88, 1.0, 1.14. Each color of the tortex plectrum range represents a different gauge. Shapes of the tortex range also include: Triangle, Regular, Jazz, Jazz XL, Sharkfin, Teardrop, Flex and Pointy.
Regular Fender celluloid Picks: Old School! Smooth sounding and feeling. This pick makes a lot of noise but it’s old school, I mean Rock on man!? These Fender picks have been a mainstay in the bassist world due to the fact that these bass picks have been around for a very long time. Another bass pick contender for the rock n roll history books! The gauges are single: Thin, Medium, Heavy and they are made from high quality celluloid. Shapes include: regular size, sharp triangle and rounded triangle. The bass pick above shows the one with the rounded edges. The plectrum below is the pointed triangle pick.
PLANET WAVES BASS PICK
Planet Waves: This Planet Waves bass guitar pick is D’addario’s version of the Fender celluloid pick above. However, there are definitely a few differences. These Planet Waves picks allow for precise picking and has a nice wide gripping surface. The bass pick is Tri-tip meaning it has a tip on three sides. Each of which can be used to even out the wear and tear. Thus, your bass guitar pick will last longer. The celluloid material produces a nice large and warm sound and if that isn’t enough, the package in which the picks come in is environmentally friendly. These exact picks come in a Duralin material as well, like the one pictured below. Guages of these include: Light, Medium, Heavy and Extra Heavy.
WEDGIE RUBBER PICK
Wedgie Rubber Pick: Wedgie are best known for the innovative guitar pick holder that they make. However, If you are looking for a bass guitar pick that sounds like you’re playing with your finger then this wedgie rubber pick is the one for you. The fact that it is made from rubber means that the guitar pick is pretty much noiseless which then means you are able to achieve a sound that is rich and warm. Much like the sound that your finger would produce. These picks are thick! Starting out at 3.1mm and going all the way up to 5.0mm making it perfect for bass guitar players. Below shows a detailed explanation of the wedgie rubber pick range. We tried this on a Telecaster guitar, but the bass telecaster version and it sounded really old school. This bass guitar pick is really great for achieving that vintage tone.
LEMMY MOTORHEAD SIGNATURE BASS PICKS
Lemmy Motorhead Bass Picks: Now you can be just like the Motorhead legend, Lemmy by using his signature bass picks! They are made and produced by Jim Dunlop and come as a pack of 6. Not only do you get 6 Lemmy signature picks but you get an epic Lemmy branded guitar pick holder to keep them in! Just add a Rickenbacker bass guitar into the mix and you are literally halfway to the Lemmy sound, apparently. These are made out of the highest quality nylon and have raised tips. Gauges include: 0.73, 1.14, 0.88. Why not get yourself the lemmy action figure doll below too because, why not? What would Lemmy do! Just click on the doll to get yours now.
CLAYTON WOOD BASS PICKS
Clayton Wood: We’ve featured these exact picks as part of our Wooden guitar picks post however it deserves a mention in the bass picks category too because it has become popular among bassists and is different to the regular picks on the market. It is part of the Clayton exotics range and is made from wood. The wood produces an earthy and warm tone unable to replicate with plastic picks. There is also a nice dip/ditch on the pick to form a comfortable and strong gripping surface.
DRAGONS HEART PICKS
Dragon’s Heart Picks: We’ve actually featured these exact picks as part of our list of cool guitar picks. They’ve come up in this list because they are just as cool for bassists as they are for guitar players. If not cooler actually! These picks were designed to last up to 1400 hours of playing time. If you add up those hours, you’ll quickly realise the extent to how durable this pick is. That equals to 58 days of playing!
This bass guitar pick is tri-tip however each tip is different and gives the players options as each tip has a different characteristic and sound. These are very heavy coming in at a gauge of 2.5mm however this makes it optimum for bass playing. The company who makes these picks claims that they are the best guitar picks for bass so we suggest giving them a go! Check out how these sound in the video below.
FELT BASS PICKS
Picks Made from Felt: Felt is the least known out of all the bass guitar picks but have quite a loyal niche following. Felt picks are usually used for ukulele however when played on a bass the result is a smooth and flat sound that makes absolutely no noise whatsoever. Unlike most other plastic picks which tend to be on the noisy side of things. Another great thing about these bass guitar picks is that they do not slip out of the finger and also feel soft to grip.
CLAYTON BLACK RAVEN
Black Raven by Clayton: Up next we have a bass guitar pick that has become exceptionally popular recently. These are highly durable picks which make them great for bass. They also have a great gripping surface due to the fact that they have a matte finish covering the surface area. According to Clayton, the reason these are so popular is because they were designed specifically to prevent “string pop”.
DUNLOP PRIMETONE BASS GUITAR PICKS
Primetone Bass Guitar Picks: Here is another great bass guitar pick made by Dunlop and another plectrum that has recently become very popular. This is a relatively new pick to the market and it uses Dunlop’s special Ultex material. We’ve featured this pick as part of our list of Best guitar picks so be sure to check it out if you’d like to read more. These primetone picks come in the tri-tip version as pictured above as well as the regular shape pictured below. If you are so inclined, there are also Jazz shapes available.
These come in the following three gauges: 1.3mm, 1.4mm and 1.5mm. however, the cool thing is that you can choose a smooth version or the version with a grip. The picture above shows the smooth version and the picture below shows the grip version.
BLACK DUNLOP GATOR GRIP
Gator Grip Black: The Gator grip picks are definitely some of the most underrated and often forgotten about plectrums. However, this particular gator grip has become exceptionally popular for bass guitarists due to it’s 2.0mm size. The Gator grips are also known for being made to the highest standards and producing a great response and attack for the player. The matte finish on the surface also helps take this pick to the next level. There are other gauges available ranging from 0.58 up to 2.0mm.
TIMBER TONES STONE BASS PICKS
Stone Picks By Timber Tones: A stone bass pick had to be added to the mix for the sole reason that many bass guitar players actually use stone picks for bass. It provides a very unique sound that is really hard to replicate with other materials. Many people think these picks do damage to the guitar and to the strings however the stone is covered in a light resin which makes it slightly softer and more suitable for bass playing.
GRAVITY CLASSIC BASS GUITAR PICKS
Bass Picks by Gravity Picks: Here is another classic bass guitar pick thrown into the mix. It is made from the highest quality thermoplastic and will improve your sound as you begin to use it. They also last a lot longer than your regular bass guitar pick due to the high quality material it is made from. The grip on this pick also improves as your fingers get warmer. They are perfect for bass playing as they come in a nice thick gauge of 1.5mm and allow you to play quicker and cut through the mix louder.
SHARKFIN BASS PICKS BY D’ANDREA
Bass Picks Shark fin Style: It is not very often you see bass guitar players using sharkfin picks. This is due to the fact that shark fins are most often associated with a thin gauge. That was true, until plectrum manufacturers like D’andrea and Dunlop brought out sharkfin picks in a heavier gauge such as the 1.14mm version pictured above. The heavier shark fin picks make for great bass plectrums due to their large size and versatile picking tips. Below is the full range of shark fin picks by D’andrea, the best suited gauges for bass are the purple, blue and green one’s.
BOSS BASS GUITAR PICK
Bass Guitar Pick by Boss: We all know Boss for their guitar pedals however they have recently entered the guitar pick market with their high quality, American celluloid guitar picks. The one pictured above is the heaviest gauge of the range and is the one that is best suited for bass guitar. These are idea for all types of musical styles. The abalone color of the pick is meant to replicate that of the one Jimi Hendrix used to use, apparently.
DUNLOP MAXI GRIP NYLON BASS PICKS
Max Grip by Dunlop: Despite the fact that there are very popular guitar picks, they make the list of bass guitar picks for many reasons. The first and foremost reason s the intense grip that makes these picks so famous and so popular. As a bass guitar player, you can imagine the amount of resistance there is hitting the strings. This is due to the fact that they have much thicker strings than guitars. The grip helps minimize any resistance and your fingers will lock the pick down in place no matter how hard you strum. These nylon picks also come in a wide range of gauges however the 1.0mm version is definitely the most popular one for bass guitar.
The regular Dunlop Nylon picks are also popular for bass players. These are the same as the maxi grip one’s except they don’t have the course grip. having said that, the regular Nylon picks still have a pretty decent grip with studded sides and raised logo. The regular nylon bass guitar picks are pictured below.
DUNLOP SHARP BASS GUITAR PICKS
Sharp Picks by Dunlop: These are generally popular for guitarists looking to play extremely fast. In fact, you’ll find a lot of heavy metal guys using these. Having said that, bass guitarists quickly adopted these because they allow for precise picking on the larger bass strings. They also allow the bass player to play much faster because of the extremely pointy tip. A fantastic feature you get from these picks is that they hold their memory extremely well. This is hard to explain but it is best to try them out and see for yourself. As per usual with the Tortex range, these are available in all of their gauges as pictured below. The black and the white sharp picks are the best suited for bass guitar as they are the thickest at 1.35 and 1.5 respectively.
Concluding All That is Bass Guitar Picks
At the end of the day the choice is yours when it comes to bass guitar picks. The picks above are some of the most popular one’s used by bassists in the world however you can use whatever feels the most comfortable for you. One important thing to take into account is that guitar picks are bass guitar picks and bass guitar picks are guitar picks. What does this mean? This means that each plectrum has been designed for something unique and specific and when it comes down to it, they are all meant to be used on stringed instruments. So with that being said, it really does not matter what type of pick you go for as long as you practice your instrument and stick to the important stuff.