Picking on the bass guitar isn’t something to be ashamed of. When you reach a certain level of comfort and experience, you’ll be able to make the switch from picking notes to slapping and tapping, just like guitar players do. But a key aspect of making that transition is to first use one of the best bass picks for your playing style.
There are many factors involved in finding the right fit between your thumb and index finger. Once you get those down, you’ll no doubt make a decision in seconds.
6 Best Bass Picks - My Top Selections
If you’re looking for some extra grip and a way to ease the pressure on your fingers, you might want to check out the Dunlop Big Stubby picks. They come in three sizes, at 1, 2, and 3mm thickness.
They’re solid enough to handle thick bass strings as well as five-string bass guitars. You can also use them if you play in a lower tuning and use thicker strings.
What I like about the picks is the indent design. It’s right in the middle of the pick and makes gripping it between your thumb and index finger very comfortable. The picks are also affordable, especially since they come in packs of six or 24.
Of course, not everyone’s a fan of shiny picks so this could be a drawback for some people. The same can be said about the rigidity. The 3mm pick is particularly stiff and won’t suit all playing styles and techniques.
2. Fender 346
The Fender 346 lineup is comprised of three picks – thin, medium, and heavy. I recommend the heavy model as it provides more durability when playing thick bass strings.
Although the picks don’t have too many interesting features in terms of grip or texturing, the celluloid design has other benefits. It offers a traditional feel and a much smoother striking surface compared to most modern pick designs.
Furthermore, the picks are a bit more flexible than you would expect, even at higher gauges. I also like that the picks promote a fast attack and a warm tone. I think this makes them more versatile and suitable for use in various genres.
The picks are very reasonably priced too and come in standard 12-packs. One of these packs should last you a very long time, unless you’re playing extra thick strings.
Dunlop’s Tortex Triangle picks are very interesting. They’re not as thick as other bass picks, with a maximum gauge of 1.14mm. That said, they boast a larger gripping surface which should lend more control and accuracy to the player.
These picks respond well to wear and tear and have very good shape and edge retention. I also like the overall design as it’s comfortable to hold and easy to use in string skipping techniques.
That said, I’m not a big fan of the pink color scheme. But I do like using a rounded tip every now and then, and the performance value outweighs the lack of color variety. Although these picks are slightly pricier than others, the difference is not worth mentioning.
The late Lemmy Kilmister knew a thing or two about chugging on the bass guitar. If you’re a fan, or if you’re just looking for a cool and reliable pick to dive into some heavy riffs, this may be the right choice for you.
The Dunlop MHPT02 comes in a six-pack. The picks are all black and feature Lemmy branding. In particular, I like that the branding is textured and also provides additional grip. The gauge of these picks is 1.14mm, which isn’t very thick for most bass strings.
However, the nylon picks are more than durable and also feature a raised tip design. You may also appreciate the pick holder, which comes in a collectable tin box with Lemmy branding.
You can also find thinner picks at .73 and .88mm. However, these feature Motorhead branding and album art branding on them. If you prefer a simpler design and a single color scheme, the thicker picks are likely for you.
The D’Addario Planet Waves DuraGrip bass picks are ideal for beginners or players making a transition from finger style playing to picks. The picks have a standard shape but come with an innovative grip surface.
I like that this is a stamped surface, meaning that it should hold better in time. The material of choice is Duralin. If you don’t know, this is a material with a high abrasion resistance rating, thus making it ideal for playing on thick bass guitar strings.
The picks are available in packs of 10, 25, and even 100. Both the heavy and extra heavy gauges are good for playing on the bass. With the heavy picks offering a bit more flexibility.
Looking for something that looks cool and plays fast? The ChromaCast Guitar Freak picks could be the answer. These picks come in four sizes, yet I only recommend the heavy model for serious bass players.
That’s regardless of whether you play in standard tuning or lower. The durability of the 1.2mm heavy model is good and the rounded edges resist chipping well. Even on the thicker low strings.
The overall design promotes a smooth play style and helps facilitate a warmer bass sound. You won’t hear any bright contact noises, even though the tip of the pick is in between round and sharp.
Despite the picks being just 1.3mm thick, I like how stiff they are. This shows that the picks are durable and helps them resist long playing sessions. If you need picks for playing live or just for practicing, a Guitar Freak 10-pack is a worthwhile investment.
Not all bass guitar picks are made of plastic or nylon. Many manufacturers today use unique advanced or exotic materials to boost the durability of their picks and offer unique playing experiences.
Tortex picks, for example, have a unique texture that adds friction against the strings. Duralin, on the other, hand is smoother but also a lot more durable than many other materials.
Celluloid picks have been made for a long time and many top bass players today still seem to prefer them for their unique blend of durability and flexibility.
It may take you a few tries to find out what you’re most comfortable with.
Thickness or Gauge
Obviously a thicker pick will handle bass strings better. But how thick do you really need it to be? Lots of players stick to the 1.14m or 1.2mm picks. These are still thicker than heavy gauge guitar picks but they’re not too big.
However, in some cases, a thicker gauge makes more sense. You can go as high as 3mm with your bass pick. This gauge is great for chugging, playing in lower tunings, and so on. I personally prefer 1.2 to 1.5mm picks for even acoustic bass.
That said, note that the thicker the pick the less flexibility it has. So if you’re not familiar with a stiffer playing style, you may want to start with a smaller gauge and work your way up.
Standard Shape and Tip Differences
Always go for the standard shape. At least that’s my two cents on the subject. The traditional guitar pick shape is very accommodating to beginners and very easy to grip. Regardless of its texture and grip surface design.
But things are a bit different when it comes to the tip. A pointed or sharp tip is better for solo bass players. It’s heavy on precision and control and thus more suitable for phrasing rather than riffing.
Rounded tips have a warmer contact sound which, in turn, helps create a warmer bass sound. If you don’t have many melodic single note lines, this could be a better fit for you.
Last but not least, you should know that some bass picks come with multiple contact or playing edges. Most of them will feature a triangle design and can be used for some advanced bass playing techniques.
However, I don’t typically recommend these to beginners.
Always Get the Pick That Lets You Exercise the Most Control
Regardless of your playing style or your role in the band, you should find a pick that helps you maintain accuracy, precision, and control over the entire fretboard. Maybe the best pick for you won’t be one designed for your favorite genre.
But then again, not everyone plays the same way. That’s why I suggest sampling more than one type of pick before you make up your mind. As you can see, the picks in this article aren’t just good and unique in their own way, but also very affordable, should you want to make the transition to picking the bass strings.