Beginner - Anchoring Thumb Questions!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by RhythmRain, Jun 20, 2020.

  1. RhythmRain


    Jun 10, 2020
    Hey all, I'm new around these parts...been learning guitar for a while and switched over to bass. Loving everything about it! I'm using the Fender Play App to get going and it's been pretty great so far.

    A few questions are popping up. When playing with the thumb on the bridge pick up, is it bad to rest on the actual pick up rather than the black piece that it's sitting on? When I watch them in lessons, it seems they're always just on the black, but sometimes my thumb just goes to the pick up (silver) on it's own. I don't want this to become a bad habit, unless it's no big deal. Is the pick up in danger of loosening in time that way, and that's why they stick to the black bit? Or am I just overthinking it (quite possible!)

    Also, when resting the thumb on the strings, are only the E and A strings used for thumb placement? I tend to rest on the D when playing the G string, but again, haven't seem them do this.

    Overall, there seem to be a lot of things that my fingers are doing naturally, and still getting the right notes (this is very beginner stuff, of course). So I don't know if I should be working to correct these now. My assumption is that the placement suggestions they use are going to be more useful as things get more complicated, so I do want to pay attention.
  2. jchrisk1


    Nov 15, 2009
    Northern MI
    Sounds like you're getting the hang of it. You won't hurt anything by touching the pickups. I usually move my anchor as I'm crossing strings, but the A string is my last anchor for. D and G. 3 anchor points for four string, 4 for 5 string, 5 for six string. Try not to cross more than two strings without moving your anchor, it can cause stress on your hands and wrist. You want to keep your wrists as straight as possible. People do it, but I don't recommend it.
    RhythmRain likes this.
  3. RhythmRain


    Jun 10, 2020
    Awesome, thanks! I won't worry so much about anchoring on the pick up. But I will keep it to the E and A strings going forward. And yeah the wrist straight thing, like I said I have been learning guitar on and off for years, so I'm pretty comfortable with the fretting hand, but I do notice my fingers and thumb slant a bit on some notes. I'm trying to be aware of that as well early on.
  4. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I would recommend using the "Floating Thumb" technique (not to be confused with the "Moveable Anchor" where the thumb rests of the string above...or two above.. the one being plucked. This is also a safe technique). With the FT the thumbs does not rest on anything, but does what it says on the floats. Anchoring on the pick up causes the wrist to bend which in time can lead to injury problems like CTS.

    With the FT, not only have you a safe and efficient technique and a straight wrist, but you also get to mute unwanted harmonics on unpicked strings.

    friend33, 12BitSlab, SteveCS and 3 others like this.
  5. RhythmRain


    Jun 10, 2020
    Hmm, very interesting! I kept seeing that term around the boards here but didn’t delve into yet, I thought it was an advanced technique. Perhaps I will try it out at the beginning and see if I can make that work for me. Thanks!
    fearceol and And I like this.
  6. You can always check out billy to see his approach.
    ErikP.Bass likes this.
  7. Lagado

    Lagado Inactive

    Jan 6, 2020
    Make sure you contact with the top surface of the thumb too. If you move up to the A string, the bottom surface mutes that and the top surface mutes the E string above.
  8. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Make sure to give it ample time (anything up to three months) before you come to a definitive decision as to whether it works ...or not.. for you.
    RhythmRain and Lobster11 like this.
  9. jonster


    Nov 12, 2008
    I get asked this question a lot by my students. I have to analyze what I'm doing because it just comes so naturally to me now. What I focus on is muting the unwanted strings and making sure the only notes that are heard are the ones that are supposed to be heard. My thumb just naturally moves to various spots around the E string (sometimes below it), while the rest of the muting, generally, is handled by the fretting hand. Just keep experimenting, making sure your priority is a full, round, clean tone. That will dictate where your thumb goes.
  10. haggardPHUNK


    Jul 1, 2020
    I find that I am almost always anchored on my E string. I do a lot of muting with my fretting hand and my rest strokes take care of the rest. I dont play a 5 string often, but in that case I am usually resting on the E string and gently touching the low B.
  11. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    As you are just startling your journey. Some of us use our thumb to sound the strings -- I came over from 6 string guitar and the pick came over as well. Found I liked the sound of just my thumb over the pick, so the pick went back into my gig bag.

    When I do go finger picking thumb gets placed where ever fits and then index and middle do the rest. Not saying this is THE way, just something to take into account.

    Good enough for Sir Paul, good enough for me.
    paul mcmartney teaches bass - Bing video

    Yes he is left handed.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020