Famous Bass Players who use a [gasp!] pick.

Joe Osborn

Joe Osborn has played on many hit records from the 60s and 70s, many while employing a pick.

An audience member came up to compliment me on my bass playing after a show I played a couple of weeks ago. He commented on the fact that I used a pick most of the night and said “isn’t that unsusual?”. I replied “not really, did you know that Paul McCartney used a pick on nearly all The Beatles records?” He was surprised.

Truth is, a lot of great players have played bass with a pick, at least part of the time. I talked more with a friend about it and we named a bunch of players we could think of, all of whom played with a pick (at least sometimes).

Here are a handful (mostly favorites of mine):

Often guitar players who switch to bass favor a pick (McCartney, Kaye) but other times, they just like the attack. Some players switch between the two often, depending on the needs of the song. Personally, I use a pick about 90% of the time and play fingerstyle when it fits the song better.

Here are some vidoes I found of some great bass playing, with a pick:

  1. Culture Vulture

    I think Gene Simmons of KISS and Cliff Williams of AC/DC used a pick on the majority of their studio recordings and live performances.

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