Fretting without thumb
I know it is ideal to use arm pressure to "pull" your fretting fingers against the strings, rather than clamping with the thumb. But when I try to do that, even lightly, the neck just moves as I pull my fingers against the fretboard. How do I keep the neck steady? Should my thumb be there just to provide resistance, but not to squeeze the neck?
Exactly. light pressure on your thumb.
You are trying to play the bass, not choke it.
Also... don't over think this. You play the bass, the bass doesn't play you.
You shouldn't be using your arm, at all. You might try a wider/heavier/padded strap, to arrest neck dive and stabilize the bass. Your thumb should just be applying light pressure to the back of the neck. If you're wrestling the neck, you're handicapping yourself.
yeah, where did "use your arm to pull the fretting finger against the strings" come from? that doesn't even make sense, you'd just be pulling your bass out of tune from neck flexing, and you'd have to be pushing on the body with your plucking hand at the same time to even do it.
I think he is talking about some videos I have seen that show people playing without the thumb touching the back of the neck.
Stuff like this is just an OVER illustrated example of how little thumb pressure you really need to play.
Many of us learned to play before youtube... or the internet....or personal computers existed.
We were lucky.
On double bass, you DEFINITELY pull with the wright of your arm. Otherwise you're putting way more effort into bass than you have to.
On electric, you don't need half as much pressure. Just don't squeeze the neck and you'll be fine
Thanks for all the advice, everybody. It is very helpful.
But the design and shape of the neck makes it convenient to grip, just because we can grip it does not mean we should.
The way we are designed means because of our opposable thumb we can grip things, but with in that is grip pressure.....the one thing we cannot see.
So to learn about it we need to feel what no pressure is.
This is the purpose of videos that show and teach with the thumb off the neck.
It allows you to "reverse engineer" the technique.
Rather than start with more pressure than needed learn to reduce it to the correct amount, you start with none and a relaxed hand and bring it up to the correct pressure....but always relax the hand to return back to a position of no pressure, or minimal pressure as often as you can.
Check out the links.
That Pesky Thumb (Pt. 1&2)
Everything is so overthought these days. Of course you grip the neck, just don't grip it any harder than you need to. Simple.
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