Anchor technique question

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by jazznfusion, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. jazznfusion


    Jan 12, 2011
    Im still a beginner, but notice i have much more accuracy and comfort when anchored in the same spot ( my pickup ). My question is, is this acceptable and practical as i progress? I lose accuracy and dont like moving around for several reasons. Im playing a 4 string with a jazz type neck btw. Thanks in advance for any help or insight.- Mike
  2. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    +1 for the "Floating Thumb".

    OP, with the FT technique the thumb does not rest on anything. If you feel the need to rest the thumb, try the "Floating Anchor" technique. Here, the thumb rests on the string above the one being plucked. The advantage that these two techniques have over resting the thumb on the pick up, is that in both cases the wrist is straight. Playing with a bent wrist can lead to injury problems over time. BTW, the wrist of the fretting hand should be as straight as possible also.

    Here is the Floating Anchor demonstrated :

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    Anchor is perfectly fine on a 4 string bass, most bassists play this way.
    For 5 and more, floating thumb is something you want to develop. It will be beneficial on a 4 string too.
  4. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Yes. Lots of bassists play this way and suffer no problems. However, lots of other people do. This is not to say that the OP will have injury problems later on from the wrist being constantly at a severe angle, as a result of resting the thumb on the pick up. Perhaps he will not have problems. Personally, it is a gamble I would not be prepared to take. ;)
  5. gavinspoon


    Feb 11, 2008
    Cardiff UK
    On a 4 string moveable anchor is mostly done with the thumb on the pickup for the E and A strings, thumb on the E for the D, and thumb on the A for the G.

    This'll do you fine, try it and see how you get on.
  6. jazznfusion


    Jan 12, 2011
    As for my wrist i pivot my thumb as i go lower, so my wrist is straight. That isnt an issue but i will try floating as well. thanks.
  7. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Anchoring is fine, but consider this, as a rule players that use floating thumb are equally at home using a fixed thumb (fixed anchor), so consider the value of that skill alone.....i switch between the two with no problems at all.
  8. jazznfusion


    Jan 12, 2011
    Thanks everyone! I seem to be able to play using floating thumb much better then switching my anchor, so i will practice this style.
  9. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    There's no gamble at all. The issue of wrist angle is not due solely to anchoring, it's due to having the elbow in the wrong position. I've anchored for nearly 33 years. By simply keeping my right elbow up and away from the bass, my wrist is straight and I've never complained about binding being sharp or any of that stuff.
  10. I play a 4-string Fender Jazz.

    When I took up the bass a few years ago at the age of 52, I thought the proper way (and the only way) was to fix my thumb on top of the neck pickup at all times regardless of which string I was playing on. But I found it very awkward to play the higher strings (ie G and D) the way my whole hand needed to open up with the wrist bent uncomfortably due to my very smallish hand with short fingers.

    It was an eye-opening experience to learn about the "movable anchor" technique, which allowed my right hand to remain in a more relaxed position regardless of which strings I was playing.

    As a general rule (with some flexibility and variation), I lightly place my thumb on top of the pickup when playing between E and A strings, then move my thumb onto the E string when playing between A and D, then onto the A string to play D and G.

    This technique also helps to properly mute the lower strings when playing up high to avoid that ever-annoying sympathetic vibration.
  11. Arcadia Divine

    Arcadia Divine

    Jun 27, 2013
    I always called the Floating Thumb the Ray Brown technique. He is the first person I heard about that applied this (or something similar). For me, I can't bend my right wrist very far due to developing RSI from a teacher teaching me martial arts wrong on purpose (he admitted to it). Now days, a joint locks up in my wrist and makes the pain worse so the the floating thumb is something I have to do.
  12. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    Start by using a technique, then later, do what comes naturally. Here's what I mean:

    I'm certainly no expert, but for me, when I started playing, I kept close watch over the anchor technique, always alternating fingers when plucking, etc., and no doubt that helped. Eventually (and it happens pretty quickly), you start to forget about the plucking hand. At that point, I was automatically anchoring, alternating fingers, etc. But also, I noticed that I automatically gravitating toward a floating anchor - because it helps so much with muting control. By switching the thumb, for instance, to rest on the A string, you can mute the E with the back of the thumb. It's easy and intuitive to switch back to anchoring on the E, or the pickup when you have to. I found when I started the floating anchor to the A string, it was immediately easier to play trickly riffs on the A,D,G strings. I'm sure this will help if I ever go to a 5 string.
  13. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    +1. Me, too.

    Ain't no hard rules. Just don't do anything that causes pain.

    I use both anchoring and floating.
  14. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I totally agree. However the trouble with the likes of CTS and RSI is there is no pain, possibly for years, as it can take this length of time before a person notices any problems. Just because no pain is experienced now, does not mean it wont happen over time.
  15. Arcadia Divine

    Arcadia Divine

    Jun 27, 2013
    This is completely true. I know from experience.
  16. Arcadia Divine

    Arcadia Divine

    Jun 27, 2013
    For what it's worth, you can develop RSI by simply tensing up while you play. That's why you see people like victor wooten play so calmly and relaxed. So if you find yourself tensing up while you pick, stop and loosen up before you continue.
  17. Schmorgy


    Jul 2, 2012
    And both have their place. Some guys will try to argue floating thumb as being the next step in bass playing and that you shouldn't need to anchor after learning it, but anchoring allows you a slightly more aggressive tone I feel by allowing you to dig in.

    Floating thumb is definitely faster and better on the economy of movement though.
  18. jazznfusion


    Jan 12, 2011
    Thanks to all for your help!
  19. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Staying relaxed is one good way to avoid injuries,
    also, Floating Thumb or Floating Anchor allow
    free movement closer to bridge or closer to neck
    while keeping ability to mute lower strings.