Double-jointed Thumbs

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Mr. Oysterhead, Feb 21, 2005.

  1. Mr. Oysterhead

    Mr. Oysterhead

    Apr 15, 2004
    I have recently read a couple of different threads with reference to having double jointed thumbs being a good thing for a bass player. One was saying that Jaco had them and another was a joke in the humor forum. I have double jointed thumbs. Can someone enlighten me has to how I can use this to my advantage?
  2. I always thought they were better for double-thumbing...?
  3. I wouldn't think double jointed thumbs would do much one way or the other, since it tends to hurt the joint when you go the wrong way too much.
  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification

    That will make you better.
  5. pulseczar


    May 7, 2004
    San Jose, CA
    I have extremely straight thumbs and I want to say to you bassists out there with double jointed thumbs.

    I am very jealous of your genes. :spit:

    Double jointed thumbs are used for slap bass. Victor Wooten does some awesome things with his thumbs.... and he's double jointed. I've been trying to learn his double thumb technique and it's really frustrating because I can't take his advice because my thumbs won't do what he does, so I'm kinda learning that technique all on my own.
  6. Mr. Oysterhead

    Mr. Oysterhead

    Apr 15, 2004
    Thanks for the feed back guys. I guess I can see how double joints would help out with slapping. And thanks for stating the obvious pacman.
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    What Pacman stated was more obvious than most people know. That would make it less obvious to them. Obviously;)

    Considering the same techniques Wooten and Jaco employ(ed) could be accomplished with "normal" thumbs...


    How important is it? Not very IME.
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    You don't need double-jointed thumbs to do what he does. Look for another reason;)

    Don't let Vic's thumbs be a cop-out. That would rank right up there with "special gear" needed to do what he does IMO. You need two things...

    1. A bass. A good setup wouldn't hurt.

    2. Practice. A lot.
  9. Jaco's double-jointed thumbs just get more attention than the norm is because those thumbs were attached to E.T hands and E.T fingers on E.T arms. The dude was just born to play bass period.
  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Jaco played a 4 string bass. Did he do that much stretching?
  11. Alain Caron is double-jointed as well, and his double-slapping is downright scary!! When I asked him personally if he was, he showed me what his thumb could do. Incredible...and I will never physically be able to do that. I didn't know that Victor was as well. I asked Marcus Miller if he was (on his webpage forum), and he wrote back that he wasn't.
  12. E.O.M.


    Dec 7, 2001
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I was under the impression that there is no such thing as a "double joint," and that some thumbs are just more flexible than others.
  13. Yeah, when I started double-thumbing I thought it was only possible if you had double-jointed thumbs, but after a lot of practice I can double-thumb with ease.

    Nice to hear that Marcus isn't as he's one of my favorite bassists. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think John Patitucci, Oteil Burbridge, or Bill Dickens have double-jointed thumbs either. Of course, I'm just guessing from watching them play.
  14. E.O.M.,

    Actually, you're correct. When someone is said to be double-jointed...they don't really have 2 joints, they just have tendons/cartilage that are somehow different (and likely more flexible) than most people.
  15. Heh, if you really want double-jointed thumbs, there's a way to solve that...

    No, really, not THAT way. I found as I play bass my thumbs naturally can go backwards farther. You could also try stretching them a bit every day -- just gently push your thumb back against a table or other hard surface. Don't do this for too long, it's only a stretch -- don't expect immediate results either.

    Or you can always just move your hand so when your slapping your coming from a lower angle -- sort of more like Mark King slaps.
  16. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I have "double jointed" thumbs. It is called that because the joint allows movement in both directions rather than only one (i.e. - double direction).

    What it is...the ligaments are longer than normal, thus the thumb (or any joint) is able to move beyond where a normal length ligament prevents movement.

    Sometimes it is a pain....literally.
  17. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    What he said. I too am blessed with long tendons. My buddy always laughs at me cause his thumb only goes verticle, no backwards bend at all and I always thought it was strange. I call him short tendons guy hehe.
  18. I have double-jointed thumbs and I don't think it really helps - as Brad and PM have said - Practice helps a shed-load! I've also noticed that Wooten has a very straight thumb and infact keeps it more or less rigid when double-thumbing - basically there are NO excuses - it all boils down to making each technique your own anyway, even if you learn the 'method' of any given technique it will always be 'your' version of it as the wondeful thing is, we're all different - thank God for that!
  19. Yah, like my thumb can have a 90º angle forward or back :bag:

    Personally, I found it a bitch to start slapping because of that. I had to learn to position not only my hand but also the exact position of my thumb and be able to move around with it. actually, now, its become quite handy, I dont have to move my wrist as much, I can simply change thumb angle.

    as for jaco's technique, I dont see any way that being double jointed makes any diference to his playing, except maybe that his hands could benefit of a more flexible, further reaching anchor... other than that, nothing he couldnt achieve if he wasnt doublejointed IMO.
  20. im not double jointed and i can double thumb pretty well. i really dont see how it would make a difference.

    as for jacos ET hands i think its funny because lot of times, youll see a tremendous fat dude chillin in the corner who completely dwarfs his instrument. Only Jacos hands dwarfed his instrument.....that and his gigantic forehead.
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