Technique dilemma......

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Liv3rman, Jan 22, 2013.


  1. Liv3rman

    Liv3rman

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2012
    I have been playing bass for about 8 months after switching from guitar to fill a vacancy in my friends covers band. I am very competent with a pick (15 years of guitar) but decided to learn to play finger style a few months ago.

    I use the 'moveable anchor' ie. thumb on pickup when playing 'E', thumb on 'E' when playing 'A', etc so my thumb is always on the string above the one I am playing. I have found this style great for muting purposes and adequate for the type of music we play (rock/metal covers).

    Now my problem is that I run into speed problems with fast runs across multiple strings using my moveable anchor, so I am looking into learning 'the floating thumb' technique.

    We (as a band) gig most weeks, so if I haven't nailed the floating thumb in a week, I will play the gig using my original technique, hence undoing the work I've done learning the new method.

    Should I just stick to my current technique, or learn the floating thumb, and risk a few cock ups in gigs along the way?

    Thanks for reading, any advice would be great!
  2. Tupac

    Tupac

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Keep at it. If you're a "chopsy" player who digs in, moveable anchor probably isn't for you.

    Dave Larue has no problems. Neither does John Myung.
  3. Liv3rman

    Liv3rman

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2012
    The John Myung vid is how I play, and yes he can play quick like that!
    Think I'll stick with that for the time being. Thanks for posting those. :)
  4. Nashrakh

    Nashrakh

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    Hamburg, Germany
    I wouldn't actually consider playing your gigs with moveable anchor to be undoing your progress. Muting techniques can vary according to context, so no harm in doing both.

    I'm currently learning floating thumb proper too and it feels kind of weird at first but it grows and me as comfortable. Have to consciously force myself to using it though as I'd naturally revert to anchoring.
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  6. Liv3rman

    Liv3rman

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2012
    Yeah that's my issue. Also, I feel the need to 'pull against' the anchor when plucking, so the floating thumb feels alien.
  7. FretlessMainly

    FretlessMainly

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Perhaps you should at least consider a fixed anchor technique as well (you'll need a thumbrest, jazz-style PU configuration, or the neck/body joint for an anchor). I've used it for 32 years and it's been great for me. In terms of muting, when I pluck a string, I mute the string below it by landing on it, so having the thumb there too is of no use to me. The remainder of muting is done either with the fingeringhand or the pinky of my plucking hand on low E.

    The key to this technique is to avoid the lazy elbow. Get your plucking arm's elbow up and away from the body of the bass. As you move from a low string to a higher string, your elbow moves further away from the bass body. This accomplishes three or four important things:

    1. It allows you to approach the plucking of each string with the same hand position;
    2. It allows you to really get your plucking apparatus (i.e., your arm, not just your hand) on top of the strings, which allows for greater accuracy and speed.
    3. It forces your plucking wrist to maintain a neutral position which is critical to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.
    4. It avoids the sore forearm syndrome complained about by bassists with bound or otherwise "edgy" bodies.

    Works great for me; just throwing it out there as an option if you haven't considered it.
  8. FlatFive

    FlatFive

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2013
    It may sound crazy but I suggest to my students to not think about it. Let it fall where it's comfortable. There are fats players who anchor on bridge , who use floating, who anchor on the neck, who move it around. There's no "correct' way. It'll fall into place naturally where you want it. Just keep playing.
  9. Tupac

    Tupac

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Oops, I meant "floating thumb is probably not for you", not moveable anchor. Moveable anchor is the one I was supporting. BIG typo.
  10. funkybass

    funkybass

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2006
    Location:
    Indiana
    Floating thumb IS a movable anchor. I don't see how floating thumb will be a disadvantage to a "chopsy" player. I use FT and it hasn't hurt me any.
  11. FretlessMainly

    FretlessMainly

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Incorrect; but a common misconception. Floating thumb is not anchored at all. Floating thumb floats and never touches the strings or the bass. Moveable anchor, well...you get the point.
  12. funkybass

    funkybass

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2006
    Location:
    Indiana
    Adam Nitti's YouTube video of movable anchor and Todd Johnson's video of floating thumb looks the same. I don't get what you mean by FT the thumb never touches the bass or strings. Watch Todd's video. His thumb is resting on the string above the one he is plucking.
  13. funkybass

    funkybass

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2006
    Location:
    Indiana
    After re watching the videos I guess I do see a slight difference. Todd's thumb isn't resting on the string above, more like against. Still, I don't see that big of a difference between FT and MA.
  14. Tupac

    Tupac

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    In floating thumb, the thumb lays flat on TOP of the strings. In moveable anchor, your thumb anchors behind the 2nd string below the one you're playing, and the wrist is a little more arched as a result. For the music I like to play, I much prefer moveable anchor, since the arch in the wrist and the thumb pressing into the string let you dig in. Plus, for rapid string skipping you can just put your thumb on the E string or pickup and let your index and middle do their thing.
  15. levonrocks

    levonrocks

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2012
    Location:
    Easton, PA
    Let your thumb go where it feels most comfortable for you. If it feels natural and easy for you, just go for it. There is no one "right" place to put your thumb. I never really put any thought into where my thumb sits, and it never gets in the way.
  16. Liv3rman

    Liv3rman

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2012
    I'm gonna stick with moveable anchor as in Adam Nitti's vid. Just feels right and natural. Speed will come with time and work I guess. :) Thanks for all the input/advice guys.

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