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Although they may not be as exciting as effects pedals and amplifiers, the bass picks play a vital role in determining the tone, dynamics, and feel of your instrument.
Using plectrums that aren’t well suited to your style of bass playing makes it difficult to perform to your fullest potential. It’s therefore essential to choose your picks carefully, based on your individual needs.
This guide is aimed at all types of bassists, regardless of playing style or genre. If you’re unsure which bass pick is the best option for you, you’ll find all of the answers you need below.
What are the Best Bass Picks?
Bass Picks Reviews
With a teardrop design, this slightly larger-than-average bass pick makes it easier to strike the strings accurately. Rather than using nylon or other common plectrum materials, Gravity Picks Classic XL has opted for high-quality acrylic.
Not only is the acrylic material robust, but it also impacts the sound of your bass playing by improving the clarity and attack of each note.
I was impressed by this plectrum’s ability to minimize the annoying clicking sound that many alternatives produce when they come into contact with the string. This improves the sound you get when playing through an amplifier, or directly recording into an interface.
The addition of grip holes also makes a big difference to the feel of this bass pick. Even when playing fast runs or arpeggios, the plectrum is easy to keep hold of and is unlikely to slip from between your fingers.
- Easy to grip
- Improved clarity and attack
- Reduces the clicking sound that many bass picks produce
- Large size may not suit younger bassists or those with small fingers
The standard-sized Classic pick by Gravity enhances the sonic qualities of a bass guitar. With a noticeably different feel to most other bass plectrums, it inspires you to try new strumming and picking techniques.
Gravity used hand-polished acrylic to construct this pick, which results in an overall brighter and more articulate tone.
Although this Classic plectrum is very hard, the way it comes into contact with a bass string is forgiving and doesn’t require additional force. The rounded edge can be used to soften the attack, making it possible to perform advanced techniques like chirps or palm mutes.
I predict that whatever your style of bass playing, this 1.5mm pick will provide you with the clear sound and comfortable feel required to take your playing to the next level.
- Adds tonal brightness and articulation
- Rounded edge creates a softer, smooth attack
- Lasts for a long time
- Additional brightness may be undesirable if you prefer a deeper bass tone
Gravity Picks are one of the leading producers of guitar and bass plectrums. In my experience, as soon as you use one of their picks you can tell how much thought and care goes into the manufacturing process.
This Gravity Picks Gold Sunrise is suitable for a range of bass-playing styles. The result of around three years of trial and error, this pick is a fine example of Gravity’s commitment to feel and tone.
Made from durable thermoplastic, the Gold Sunrise performs differently from most acrylic or nylon picks. Those annoying treble frequencies that often occur when the plectrum hits the strings are all but eliminated, improving the sharpness of each note.
Furthermore, I like how Gravity has beveled the edge of this pick to 80 degrees, which is the perfect angle for facilitating fast, technical picking techniques or the strumming of bass chords.
- Clear and punchy note definition
- Reduces unwanted treble frequencies
- Equally suited to playing single notes or bass chords
- Increases the volume of your bass notes and may require amp setting alterations
As a frequent user of D’Addario’s exceptional strings, I was excited to discover that they also produce bass guitar plectrums. The D’Addario 1CA7-01 pick is a versatile option, suitable for all bassists.
Designed to recreate the highly sought-after tonal and dynamic qualities of tortoiseshell picks, the 1CA7-01 is made from a more sustainable material, sourced from dairy protein.
Tonally, the plectrum sounds smooth and immersive as it strikes the strings of a bass. The attack of each note is perfectly balanced, producing a clear definition without any overpowering frequencies.
D’Addario has ensured maximum playing comfort by beveling the edge of this bass pick so that it effortlessly contacts the strings and facilitates a wide range of playing techniques.
- Glides effortlessly across the strings
- Warm tone resembles authentic tortoiseshell bass picks
- Provides enhanced control over dynamics
- Dairy protein derived material may raise ethical concerns for some bassists
Gravity Picks feature heavily on our list of the best bass plectrums, which is a reflection of their prowess as manufacturers. This Gravity Picks Classic – Standard Size – 3mm is affordable and performs to a very high standard.
One criticism I have of most teardrop-shaped bass picks is that they tend to break quite easily, especially if you use them often when practicing or performing. However, this pick deviates from the norm.
Handcrafted from cast acrylic material, it is resistant to wear and tear due to its thick, robust design. I’d recommend it to bassists who use aggressive strumming styles and need a plectrum that can withstand heavy usage.
Tonally, the combination of acrylic material with the classic teardrop design results in a defined sound with a fast attack.
- Robust design ensures longevity
- Perfect thickness for fast, energetic strumming techniques
- Increases the brightness and articulation of a bass guitar
- May be too thick for more intricate styles of bass playing
If any brand knows how to get the best tone out of a bass guitar, it’s Fender. The prolific manufacturer has been responsible for two of the most iconic basses of all time – the Precision and Jazz models.
The first thing I noticed about the Fender 351 F Grip Picks was its unique design. Fender’s “F” logo has been indented into the top of the plectrum so that your thumb can grip it more tightly to prevent it from moving whilst playing.
These plectrums are ideally suited to bassists who use syncopated, rhythmic strumming patterns. They’re slightly thinner than the average bass pick, which makes it easier to slide them quickly from string to string.
With a tortoiseshell color scheme, the 351 F Grip picks look as good as they sound. You also get three in the set, making them great value for the money.
- F-grip design increases stability
- Well suited to fast, syncopated bass playing
- Sharp attack and increased warmth
- 1.5mm gauge could be too thin for heavier styles of bass playing
Bass Plectrums – Buyer’s Guide
Playing with a pick is a great way to create better note definition and attack through your bass amplifier, compared to playing with your fingers.
In theory, you can use any pick to play bass, but there are certain qualities to look out for when choosing the best picks for bass that will enhance the tone and playability of your instrument.
Bass Pick Materials
The materials used to construct bass picks influence the way that they affect both the sound and feel of the instrument.
In the past, tortoiseshell was seen as the gold standard of plectrum materials, but its use has since been banned due to ethical concerns. Manufacturers now often use alternatives like acrylic, celluloid, or thermoplastics.
Acrylic picks like the Gravity 1.5mm Polished Picks tend to increase the brightness of a bass guitar when it comes into contact with the strings. It is often polished so that it glides across the strings more smoothly.
Nylon bass picks are also readily available but are more common for electric and acoustic guitar due to their softer feel and added flexibility.
Which Gauge Should You Choose?
Bass pick gauges are measured in millimeters (mm). This indicated the thickness of the plectrum and is directly related to its malleability.
The thickest bass picks like the Gravity Picks Classic 3mm Polished has a gauge of around 3mm, and won’t bend at all no matter how aggressively you strum the strings. Thick gauges are best suited to heavier styles of playing, like metal or rock.
A bass pick with a thickness of 2mm like the D’Addario 1CA7-01 Casein 2.0mm Standard Pick and the Gravity Picks 2mm Multi-Hole Grip is a good middle ground that allows for some flexibility, but still provides the resistance required for powerful playing styles.