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3 finger approach, questions

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Mahumadi, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. Mahumadi

    Mahumadi Banned

    Apr 19, 2009
    North Eastern PA
    I am a guitarist of a year gone bass. I am new so my technique is still being worked on. My bass teacher told me he wants me using 3 fingers and has told me not to move my thumb from a dedicated spot, meaning no muting the E with my thumb. I am cool with this technique, it feels alright.

    I am assuming that using 3 fingers with a dedicated thumb anchor is an accepted and widely used technique?

    I can see myself having trouble with muting in the future, when I begin to pick up the pace. I am assuming muting, and using which fingers where to achieve this will come naturally with practice?
  2. markkoelsch


    Sep 6, 2008
    I am not sure about the anchored thumb position. I learned with an anchored thumb, and I switch between 2 and 3 fingers depending on what I am playing. I have found that I tend to move my thumb depending on what I am playing. If I am playing on the bottom string I or two I tend to anchor on the pickup. If I am playing on the higher strings I tend to float my thumb on the lower strings to assist in muting them.

    Also, the vast majority of the time I find 3 finger techniue to no tbe needed anymore. I have developed my 2 finger technique to a point that I can play most everything that way. When doing this I tend to use the floating thumb mute, and my right hand ring finger as a mute too.

  3. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    I play with three, sometimes anchored and sometimes not. There's certainly nothing wrong with what he's having you do.

    I do most of my muting with the left hand, so I don't see the issue.
  4. Mahumadi

    Mahumadi Banned

    Apr 19, 2009
    North Eastern PA
    Nice, I was hoping to find someone using the technique. this is reassuring, thank you.

    I practiced this technique on around 60 bpm and concentrated on using my fingers in their sequence from index to ring. Using 4/4 the changes from string to string were a bit awkward, but I got used to it. I plan on practicing this technique for a while to ensure I get my muscles used to it. I hope my approach to adopting this technique is on the right track, if not I would love to hear what I should be doing different.
  5. I think it's a bad technique to teach. It might not be "wrong" but there's better.
  6. BiigM


    Nov 11, 2007
    Not Moving your thumb will give you problems with muting down the road IMO.
    Either do floating thumb, or movable anchor.
    You really dont want the E and A string to be "untouched" with an SVT stack screaming behind you, or in the studio.
  7. dbthump


    Mar 20, 2009
    I suspect you should mute with both hands whenever you can. You can't always mute with just one or the other.

    Take a look at John Myung's right hand practice technique and decide for yourself. Notice how he moves his thumb as he moves up the scale.
  8. D Rokk

    D Rokk Banned

    Feb 19, 2009
    Delta Quadrant
    i think the idea of getting you to concentrate on one technique and get it down to a science is a good idea, but the fact that you werent allowed to pick is way off
  9. spindizzy


    Apr 12, 2004
    Your teacher is wrong.

    Myung is only half right.

  10. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    I have found that for me, Ring-Middle-Index is a much more natural motion...especially when doing fast passages.

    If I were playing a 6 string (like Myung) I'd probably be moving that thumb a lot too -but on a four banger I can reach everything pretty well.
  11. Mahumadi

    Mahumadi Banned

    Apr 19, 2009
    North Eastern PA
    I have decided to use my thumb as a mute for the E and the A when needed and will be sticking with 3 fingers for plucking. I only see one problem and that would be speed between moving my thumb from the E to the A and back to the pickup, but after getting used to it im sure my thumb will eventually get fast at switching. thanks for the comments and suggestions!
  12. xzzy


    Mar 6, 2009
    I don't think playing with a fixed thumb position is "bad", what is bad is using it to the exclusion of all other styles.

    Most all of the newbie instruction I got said the best way to go is lock the thumb on the pickup, but if you start watching tutorial videos.. you'll notice very few "big name players" actually do this all the time. Most helpful to me was a video from Gary Willis that's been linked here a lot, which I used to work on my right hand technique. He gives some very simple exercises for building up right hand dexterity, and doesn't involve locking the thumb in place.

    It really helped me, and after a couple months I could pluck with any of my right hand fingers without issue. Sometimes I rest my thumb on the pickup, sometimes my thumb is muting strings, sometimes my thumb is plucking strings.

    I think if I had a teacher who was telling me to forget everything and only use his style, I'd have a discussion with him as to his suitability for education. ;)
  13. alexgeddy

    alexgeddy Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2007

    I use 3 fingers....but I also play with my thumb, use my thumb for muting....play with 2 fingers...sometimes even just my index... I never got the pick thing down (not that I don;t like it). I guess the point I;m trying to make is don't limit yourself to one style.... A moveable right hand thumb is a big asset especially for tone! I found over the years most of wht I play with 3 fingers I can play with 2..... Just work on what your comfortable with and if the teacher is inflexible then I personally would find a new teacher!!

    Good luck in your learning,
  14. Mike151


    Dec 22, 2008
    Sherman Texas
    I use a 3 finger technique also and float my thumb.
    That is just the way that feels best to me and naturally mutes the above string.
  15. azarias


    Mar 19, 2009
    I was first taught with the cement thumb.
    I now move my thumb to various spots, mute and sometimes pluck with it.
    I think a good idea is to try and get more and more out of your right hand over time.
    For example, when i started i only used 2 fingers and never moved my thumb. Now, i use 2 or 3 fingers plus a thumb. i move my thumb to different spots to get a different feel and sound. I used to let my left hand try and cover muting. Now, my right thumb helps out.
    It seems to me that you would wanna become more efficient over time. You wanna get more tone with less exertion 8)
  16. spong


    Nov 20, 2006
    Ashburn Virginia
    I think it is okay for you to start with the static thumb. This lets you concentrate fully on getting the three finger thing down pat where a consistent hand position is going to help greatly with your muscle memory. Once you have that down you can experiment with different positions & techniques. RMI is normally the most natural sequence for the right hand just see how you drum your hand on a table.
  17. BiigM


    Nov 11, 2007
    Offcourse you can mute some with your left hand. But if you teach your right to take care of it, your left is free to do other stuff.

    It's pretty hard to do some cromatic bebop line on the g string and mute the a string with the left hand at the same time.

    The Myung vid looks like a mix of movable acnhor and floating thumb to me. Everything is pretty muted.
    But what's with the clickety-clackety ;-)
  18. dbthump


    Mar 20, 2009
    That's how I feel. Using all 4 fingers my left hand is must more active than my right.

    I don't know. It sounds like a broom sweeping to me. I guess it's just his sound. His dedication to technique is amazing.

  19. I play with 3 fingers pretty much all the time, and i personally think playing with an anchored thumb is the best, but to have it anchored permanently is wrong. You need to have the flexibility to hit the higher strings ( D,G,C on a 6 string bass) and not lose any definition. Besides that, your fingers are all different lengths, and if you dont have particularly long fingers, having your thumb sit on top of the pick up the whole time prob isn't going to help. Just do what feels comfortable to you really.
  20. afromoose

    afromoose Guest

    If he's getting you not use your thumb and to anchor it so that you'll learn a new style, that's ok, but if he's saying that you should only ever do that, it's complete bullshido, and he's probably one of these 'one way' guys.

    I played at an audition at a music school the other day and one of the tutors knows Paul Westwood who wrote the Bass Bible. He said that my right hand technique is very similar to Paul Westwoods. Which is funny because I've been told loads of times by other bass players that I don't have 'correct technique', whatever 'correct technique' is. Clearly somebody somewhere has decided. Maybe it's the Pope of bass guitar.

    I play with two fingers and thumb a lot of the time, sometimes three fingers and thumb, and sometimes two fingers. But I never anchor my thumb - I've never understood that technique it seems to put your wrist and should into a very strange position. Everybody's body is different.

    Also - many african bass players play with their thumb!

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