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Bad fingerstyle technique?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by YoVicta, Aug 2, 2002.

  1. Ok, I don't know if this is bad technique or not, but... Whenever i play fingerstyle, I always rest my thumb on the string below what I'm playing on. For example, if I'm plucking anything on the A string, my thumb rests on the E string. It doesn't seem to impede my playing any, but I'm still not sure if it's "bad technique" or not. If it is, how can I fix it?
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    No, that's good technique. You're muting adjacent strings by doing that.
  3. That's the way I've always played.
  4. Alright, nifty.
  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Sounds good to me.
  6. Pharmecopia


    Jul 31, 2002
    i was taught that this is okay, but its better not to. if you can have good hand position, you can easily outplay any other bassist out there. i, myself am a right-hand man, and like players to play with good finger positions, so dont listen to me if you dotn want to.
  7. what's the alternative?
  8. It's called the floating thumb technique. Do a search for it, you'll find plenty.
  9. I thought that I was doing something "wrong" for a long time but playing this way did feel comfortable for me.

    When I read this article I realized that a lot of people use this technique that I didn't have a name for.


    Hope it helps.
  10. Lazy


    May 30, 2001
    Vancouver BC
    My thumb stays in the pickup at all times, but I use my pinky to mute. It looks real stupid, like I have carpel tunnel syndrome or something. But it works!:)
  11. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    I do that too. Always have. Just be cautious that you dont push too hard making the string go out of tune. I've done that several times too.
  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Anchoring all the time is cool on a four string though it doesn't take advantage of all the tones you can get by plucking elsewhere. Where it can become a hindrance is when you go above four strings, it can make a 5 or more harder to play, might even make a 7 close to impossible to play comfortably. If this isn't an issue then anchor away.

    I anchor and float.
  13. I use a 4 string bass, so at the moment I find the anchor technique just right.
  14. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    I dont disagree entirely, but you're not acknowledging that anchoring doesnt have to be in the same place the whole time. I almost always anchor, but I place my thumb in various places such as on different pickups or on various places on different strings. Anchoring does not require a single point of thumb contact.

    BUT! Other than that i agree that one can expand the tonal possibilites by not having to anchor all the time.:)
  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings

    If you're placing your thumb on different strings, you're floating. If you "must" have your thumb on the pickups or neck, that's usually what is referred to as "anchoring".
  16. The technique that Brad refers to as "anchoring" is probably better referred to as "plant-and-arch." It allows you to get a lot more power--you have a fulcrum to work from, that being your thumb--but it's hell on your wrist, especially if you keep your bass reasonably high, and as BJ mentioned it's not very good for muting a 5-string.

    I pride myself on my Gary Willis-inspired floating-thumb three-finger fingerstyle--it's very clean. My slapping sucks, and I'm not too great with a pick, but nobody's gonna accuse me of having a poor finger technique. (Whether I execute it properly is another matter entirely... :rolleyes: :D )
  17. I think the technique of moving the solid anchor point of the thumb to mute unplayed strings (as opposed to leaving the thumb loose lying on the strings) is known as "thumb trailing".

    I was watching the Jaco Pastorius "Modern Electric Bass" video and he appears to be using this method- anchoring his thumb either on a pickup/ end of fingerboard, or E string or A string depending on the string being played.
    (BTW, did he have double-jointed thumbs?- the angle of his thumbtip seems odd).

    Billy Sheehan uses this approach too, also resting his thumb on the D string when playing the G.

    I usually use thumb trailing, but switch to the floating thumb method for quick string crossing when playing 16th note lines.
  18. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    Now I'm even more confused. Thanks for clearing that up!:D Everyone here seems to have different definitions for Floating and Anchoring and Trailing.
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Heck, now I'm confused:D
  20. punkfunkfreak


    Dec 16, 2001
    i think brads descriptions of "floating" and "anchoring" are just right, anchoring being using same string/pup everytime to rest thumb on......floating being able to use different strings depending on what string you are actively plucking.

    i have a double jointed thumb, and so when i anchor on the low b string i can still reach the high c on my 6stringer without problem.

    same as peter, whether i implement this properly or not is another matter :D:D:D

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