Anchored thumb or floating?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Steve Harris Is, Feb 4, 2006.

  1. Steve Harris Is

    Steve Harris Is

    Jul 4, 2005
    I use a "floating" thumb technique where my thumb rests always on the string above being plucked, but I notice most players anchor the thumb on the pickup(which I do for E string of course)the whole time. I like the mobility of the float and when I have tried to play with the thumb anchored I seem to have trouble not hitting adjacent strings/making too much noise, etc.

    Any thoughts on the subject?
  2. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    I'm lazy, so my thumb is always anchored on the pickup.
  3. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    I mostly play a 6 string so I use a floating thumb to mute.
  4. MarkyMark


    Dec 11, 2005
    same here
  5. OrionManMatt


    Feb 17, 2004
    Well, I'm realizing that I need to work on my right hand a lot. Lately I'll float down to A, but typically no further than that. B-E-A floater. It helps me a lot with unwanted string noise.
  6. whitedk57


    May 5, 2005
    Franklin, NC
    • Thumb on pickup for E
    • E string for A, D, and G

    I know some people shift their thumb for each string so that they still have the banana effect, but I rather stay on the E string for the other 3 strings.
  7. steve21

    steve21 Banned

    I have a pickup cover over my jazz's neck pickup specifically for anchoring purposes.

    Although sometimes I like anchoring Geezer Butler style by the neck.
  8. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    anchoring your thumb on the pickup is a bad bad habbit...

    how do you mute the strings?

    play the G string and you will hear ringing from the A and E string..

    i know people like wooten and sheehan and thousands of other bassists plays like that and that's probably because that's the way they learned how to play bass from the beginning and are too lazy learn it a better way...

    i would say that floating thumb is the proper to use the thumb and now of course somebody will say that i'm one of those guys who always thinks that my way to play is the only and proper way but in that case i would like somebody to prove me that i'm wrong...
  9. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    I just float, it just feels more natural to me that way.
  10. whitedk57


    May 5, 2005
    Franklin, NC

    What I have learned so far in my fledgling career is this...

    • There is an agreed upon way to do some things
    • There are several ways to do other things

    I think this falls in the 2nd category. I am no expert, but I am quickly learning that there are no steadfast rules for technique. What one considers gospel is disputed vehomently by others.

    I know a bassist whose thumb routinely finds its way on the fret side of the neck. I know it's wrong, but he is pretty darn good at bass. He reminds me of Lee Trevino of the golf world - widely criticized for his swing, but laughing all the way to the bank.
  11. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    Same here.
  12. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    i float unless I'm just playing one note on a higher (tone wise) string, then its a a reach.
  13. Tom Crofts

    Tom Crofts

    Mar 15, 2001
    Depending on what kind of tone I'm after I either anchor on the neck pup or the B string. I mute the other strings with my little finger on my right hand, I didn't really practice this, just realised after a while that I was doing it. I play with 3 fingers and find that between them and my little finger I don't get any unwanted noise. Each to his own here I think, I have pretty big hands though and find it uncomfortable resting my thumb on the strings because my hand gets too scrunched up.
  14. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    I think that you should learn both styles!

    I anchor my thumb for certan styles and on certain instruments, i.e. Acoustic's. I can then mute E string with my thumb, and the A string with my pinky. This gives me a more thumpy Jamerson-esque tone. Its a necesitty on an Acoustic Bass.

    I float my thumb when speed is important or when playing on a ERB, or anytime that volume isn't a concern.

    I think its worthwhile to have a variety of techniques. I know that its benefitted me as an insctructor.

  15. skewh


    Sep 5, 2005
    Ithaca, NY
    I anchor my thumb on the bridge pickup, and use my ring finger and pinky to mute the bottom strings, and viola! no sympathetic noises from the A and E strings!
  16. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    yeah, that works... but only on a 4string...
  17. Tom Crofts

    Tom Crofts

    Mar 15, 2001
    I play a 5, my pinky kinda bends backward a bit and just lays flat across the strings I'm not using.
  18. tbone0813

    tbone0813 The faithless say farewell when the road darkens.

    Aug 6, 2005
    Grand Prairie, TX.
    My finger rests/lies on top of the string when I play. I guess this is the floating style. I tried to anchor my thumb, but it felt really incomfortable.
  19. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    Right or wrong, I anchor on the pup - usually neck, but I will sometimes pay at the bridge if I need a different tone. I like the feel of having a static point of reference. Works for me.
  20. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    My technique is inbetween. It floats between the pickup E, and A, but never to the D., and the A or very rare, ie: only if the song or riff only has notes on D and G. Usually its on E or pickup.