do you guys rest your right arm?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by electricdemon3, Feb 16, 2002.

  1. electricdemon3


    Jul 28, 2000
    In past discussions about whether or not to anchor your thumb, people have mentioned the "floating thumb technique." I myself have anchored my thumb on my pickup exclusively for the past few years of my playing. However, in the last year or so, I have been trying the "floating thumb" thing. I have found that it does keep the relative angle of my fingers to the strings the same, and this is probably more efficient sound wise, however, the largest drawback I find is that my right arm gets extremely tired. I do not like to rest my arm on the top of the bass because I do not like the right angle it forces my wrist into.

    Do you other players out there who use this technique rest your arm on top of your bass? If not, doesn't your arm get extremely tired after a while?

    I personally have found that even though anchoring forces your hand to pivot at different angles for each string, If you are like me and do not rest your arm on the top of your bass, anchoring also gives support to your arm when you hold it out, and this also allows the angle of your wrist to be straighter, which in my opinion give you more strength.

    I have also found that anchoring your thumb gives more strength to the fingers when you pluck the strings since you are able to sort of pinch the strings with your hand due to the opposing force of your thumb instead of relying on all of the strength in your fingers to pluck the strings.

    Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated!
  2. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Very little. If I rest my forearm too much on the bass, I find it hinders the tendon movement from my fingers.
  3. Over in the miscellaneous forum BaSsDuDe230 was concerned about shoulder problems, and there was a bit of debate about heavy instruments, versus bad straps, etc.
    IMHO, resting your right arm on the guitar could add considerably to the weight of the instrument and the pressure being applied to the left neck-shoulder area. And, maybe some of us push down with right wrist on the hip of the instrument. This could add considerably to the pressure on the left shoulder.
    Try this TEST: Stand in position and play a couple bars, then let go of the neck with your left hand. If the headstock moves up, that means you're pressing down with the right. Or, just press down with your right wrist/forearm and notice the extra stress on yuor shoulder. I've not tried to measure it, but I'll bet it could more than double the weight of the instrument.
    This COULD be another good dynamic to pay attention to during practice, along with the OTHER right hand issue - alternating plucking fingers.
  4. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i play pretty heavy basses - weighing in at between 12 and 16 pounds (not counting the doubleneck that weighs ~26) and i also float my thumb. i rest the meaty part of my forearm on the top edge of the body, not too hard, but just enough to guide my hand. i play my basses at ~45 degree angle, which i find is the most ergonomic position, considering both hands, and this works out well, neither arms are in uncomfortable positions, and neither wrists are bent at any weird angle.
  5. I dont have any problem anchoring my tumb on the pickups for playing the lower string and resting it on the lower string for playing the rest of the strings. I also rest it on the upper side of the neck sometimes.

    Hey, you guys who float our thumb.. DOn´t you rest it on the string which is over the one(s) you´re playing?
  6. Yes. That's what I do. It has an added benefit of muting the upper strings. I also find that I tend to rest my arm on the bass when I'm sitting, but not when I'm standing. I'm really short waisted, and I think the bass is actually a bit higher when I sit, hence, the arm ends up on the bass.

  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I use floating thumb, but don't rest my thumb anywhere - I'm always using it for something. If nothing else, it is lying verticaly across all the strings below the one I'm playing, muting them.

    I think I'm doing the same as JT - I don't really rest my arm, but I sort of guide my hand by pivoting the part of my forearm just behind the wrist on the top of the bass near the bridge - exerting no downward pressure.

    My view would be that if you are pressing down, then you probably have your bass too high on the strap. What tells me if I have my bass at the correct height, is if I can just let my right hand/arm relax and be in the correct position for playing.
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Not necessarily. It might be on the the string below, it may be more than one string below.

    Also I don't anchor my right arm on the body... it's more like JT described, I use the body as a guide. I don't put any serious downwards pressure on it.

    Fatigue has never been an issue for me. Playing lightly probably figures into that as well.
  9. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    If I'm playing the B, E, A strings, then my thumb is usually anchord on the pickup or B string. When I play the D & G strings I usually anchor on the A.

    I do like JT and a few others do with my forearm resting lightly on the body, I find by doing this the hand falls into a natural more comfortable playing position.
  10. i anchor on the pickup for playing the E string, and anchor on heavier strings for higher passages.

    i've tried floating thumb, but it requires me to stand still or i'll mess it up, and i have a kinda active stage presence, so i dropped it.
  11. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    I use the Floating thumb technique usually. When i do rest my thumb, i rest it very lightly on which ever string it rests on. I find by being very light makes it easier to swith into a slap position...
  12. I don't rest it. I hold my arm in such a position that my wrist has least tension. this allows me to play for hours and hours without getting a cramp in my arm.
  13. jvasquez18


    Sep 23, 2000
    S.E. 323, 13
    i use a thumbrest for all the strings
  14. Down


    Sep 11, 2000
    When I played 4-stringer, I used to do that anchor-thing. But now, with 5 strings I just let my thumb flow, it helps a lot when I must mute strings.
    And now my hand also just stays still on the body better, than on the 4-stringer, where it almost allways just slided down from the top of the body.
  15. I usually rest my thumb on the pickup, but it moves around sometimes depending. I find that if I rest my arm on the bass it restricts my hand movement and playing. It doesn't get any more tired w/o rest than my fretting hand...