Correct thumb positioning

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by tifa, Apr 12, 2005.

  1. tifa

    tifa Padawan Bassist

    Mar 8, 2005
    Blackburn, UK
    Hi everyone! :)

    Just a quick question really, I've searched and looked through a few old threads but can't find anything specific.

    I wanted to know what is the best/most common position for your thumb to be in? I know I need to keep it at the back of the neck, but how far 'along' does it need to be relative to your fingers?

    I have been trying to keep it about central ie. between my index and ring fingers, to help me stretch my ring finger and pinky. this feels pretty unnatural my wrist seems pretty strained. Is it better to have the thumb opposite the first finger?

    Thanks, and sorry if none of that made sense, I'm at work and I'm tired!

  2. Broach_insound


    Jan 25, 2005
    New York
    Thats what you should be doing it should be pushing in the center of the neck so then it will give you better leverage and you will be able to hold down the strings better and have a better reach .
  3. tifa

    tifa Padawan Bassist

    Mar 8, 2005
    Blackburn, UK
    ok thanks! :)

    So I should be holding my thumb just about opposite my first finger? It just seems that doing it that way then limits my reach with my smaller fingers (just have to practice I suppose!)
  4. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    I typically have mine between the index and the middle finger, a little closer to (and sometimes right under) the middle one.
  5. adisu

    adisu I admit it, I'm a "user"

    Apr 8, 2005
    Billy sheehan and jhon pattituci are both saying in their video lessons that the left hand thumb should be placed in the center of the neck parallel to where the middle placed on the other side.

    Of course this is only the basic postition and the thumb position changes according to the pattern you play and your position on the neck of the guitar.

    eventually you have to play the way that feels most comfortable for you.
    If it's comfortable for you to play in a certain way and you also play your patterns smoothly there is no need for you to change the way you place your thumb.

    BTW look at louis johnson he use his right hand thumb to to play notes on the E string over the neck when he slap and want to change the E root key to higher root note. :bassist:

  6. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Don't worry too much about putting your thumb in too specific a spot. Keep your wrist free from strain and reasonably straight and the thumb should naturally fall into a good place. We're all built a little differently. But yeah, around the middle of the neck and somewhere between the index and middle finger is a good range when playing in the lower positions. As you go up the neck it should naturally shift closer to the treble side of the neck.
  7. tifa

    tifa Padawan Bassist

    Mar 8, 2005
    Blackburn, UK
    Thanks for the advice everyone, I'll try it out tonight. I know it'll get easier with practice, right now my fingers just feel useless! they are so weak!

    I just wanted to make sure so I didnt get into any bad habits and end up doing myself some serious injury down the line.

    Damn my pathetic girly hands!!

  8. adisu

    adisu I admit it, I'm a "user"

    Apr 8, 2005
    Hehehehehe :D :D :D

    With enough training you are gonna' be the female version of Vic Wooten..... ;) :cool:
    Don't let them hands put you down :bassist:
  9. +1 to what they all said.

    It is hard at first to be disciplined with the thumb position of your fretting hand, but believe me, later on when you are called upon to do runs and such, it will serve you well.

    I believe its the same with your fretting finger technique. You need to learn to use all four fingers and the "jump" to position. Hopefully, if you are just starting out, you can find yourself a decent teacher to help you here.

    Good luck, and PS - thanks for becoming a supporting member - it helps TB to become better for us all!!

  10. tifa

    tifa Padawan Bassist

    Mar 8, 2005
    Blackburn, UK


    Victoria Wooten?!

  11. adisu

    adisu I admit it, I'm a "user"

    Apr 8, 2005
    Hehehehe good one. :D :D

    from now on we shall call you victoria wooten.

    ( industry.... with a little bit of luck you'll get yourself a rich handsome guy who answers the name beckham)
  12. Your not alone, I have an injury to my middle right finger and trying to slap execise is killing me.

    The thumb thing, I have a lot of trouble forcing myself to stop gripping the bass to hard with it and end up cramping. Some of the posts here are very helpful to confirm good habit.

    One of the things that worried me when I first started was learning something bad and getting stuck that way. So help from experience dudes on here is priceless.

    I wish I knew about this site years ago. All the guys on here are better than great.
  13. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Alot of good advise!!!Keep in mind that if positioning your thumb behind the middle on the middle/upper middle of the back of the neck is too much of a strain you may have you neck/bass in too low of, or a "bad" position. The other thing to remember is the smaller you hands the better you technique needs to be. On a 100% personal note, I am glad you have "girly hands", women with "man hands" are not good IMO...
  14. tifa

    tifa Padawan Bassist

    Mar 8, 2005
    Blackburn, UK
    Thanks, I think I need to change the position of the bass a bit - I think it may be a bit low which is making it harder to fret the lower strings. Need a strap!

    I know what you mean mlowe, I'm mainly worried about getting into a bad habit with my technique and doing myself some damage! and then having to relearn all over again.

    Thanks again for all you expert advice, the help I've gotten from TB in the past month has been amazing!

    I am not worthy! :D
  15. tifa, you are a bassist, therefore you are more than worthy ;)

    slinging the bass too low, ala punk kids, may result in difficulties with your technique. Likewise, I have found that strapping the bass up really high doesn't help my technique (although this is just personal taste, IMO etc)

    You will probably need to experiment with the slinging of your bass to find the best position.

    All the best

  16. tifa

    tifa Padawan Bassist

    Mar 8, 2005
    Blackburn, UK
    aww thanks Pete - just let me hear that again - 'You are a bassist...'


    You're right I guess its just down to experimenting - and I also want to buy a decent bass that I'm comfortable with, the one I have now is OK (well, actually, no it's not its a POS!) but it ain't gonna last that long.

    (uh oh...... the first signs of GAS...... it begins!)
  17. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    I also consider this to be "correct" as I was taught this was correct on upright bass and the (good) habit carried over .

    The premise is that if your thumb is in thsi location, your wrist will be on an angle so your fingers are pressing down and not accross.

    One exception is if you want to do a string bend towards you: shift your wrist so your thumb is anchored on the fret board. You can do a bend by squeezing your hand ina controleld fashion.

    On a realted topic. Another good left hand habit is to finger as close to the frets as possible as you get better sound : less buzzing. (Another lesson from my (fretless) upright bass days.)