I tend not to think about basses and plectrums, but I’ve been forced to in the last twenty four hours. The Bass Starter Kit arrived with 3 plectrums, then last night I headed out with a group of friends to see The Hampsters. Not my normal musical fair I have to say, but they do have their very own page on Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hamsters – so I thought they couldn’t be all that bad. They are a rock/r’n’b (old style) three piece, with guitar, bass and drums.
They have had three different bassists in their 20+ years of gigging, the latest fellow is Ms Zsa Zsa Poltergeist (aka Andy Billups). Andy played a 5 string Fender Jazz for the most part, using a thumb side pick. Side picks don’t photograph well, so let me describe it: imagine a plectrum that curls around your thumb like a ring. That’s basically it. Sort of a pick that you can’t drop. It gave a hearty dose of attack to the sound, which suited the band’s heavy rock stylings.
That got me thinking. When I saw Trip Walmsley (can’t find trip’s homepage – anyone? – here’s a video of him) I seem to remember him playing fretless with a plectrum. When I started playing bass, the community I was part of seriously frowned on pick-using bassists, and that has stuck with me for some reason. May be time to shake off an old habit? Playing with a plectrum gives a very different sound. Something to experiment with!
Oh, and the Hampsters were very good, including an impressive bit of instrument swapping in the later half of the set, and some good three part harmonies. Right, I’m off to find some plectrums (or is that plectra?).