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Double thumb mystery

Discussion in 'Ask Ray Riendeau' started by Jake the snake, Dec 21, 2007.

  1. Jake the snake

    Jake the snake

    Nov 3, 2007
    Hey Ray,
    How much do you know about the double thumb technique? I've been trying to teach myself using videos from youtube and such, but i just can't get the hang of it. Is there a big secret to doing it? Is there a certain part of the thumb you're supposed to use on the "up slap"? I appreciate any advice you can give me.

  2. rayriendeau


    Mar 19, 2007
    Arizona, USA
    I actually have a video lesson covering the double thumb technique at the online bass mag I write for. The link is www.bass-musician-magazine.com
    Just go to "previous issues" and select the October/November 2007 issue, you will find a link to the lesson. If you still have any question I'm more than happy to help.

    The mag is great, there is a wealth of info regarding all aspects of bass playing and just being a musician in general.
  3. Jake the snake

    Jake the snake

    Nov 3, 2007
    Man it's crazy how people with your kinda skill still find time to help out the ones who'r still learnin. thanks a lot man, im sure the mag will be great help
  4. ZachGoldie


    Nov 24, 2007
    Damn double thumbing's hard. I find half the time I either hit too much of the string so my thumb doesn't go through to the string below, or that I just completely miss it altogether! any advice on how to improve consistency?
  5. TUEP


    Apr 8, 2007
    I am having the same issue. I tend to always smack the next string. Real tough to get down.
  6. palm grease

    palm grease

    Dec 10, 2007
    REPETITION!!!!!! keep on keepin on!
  7. p-nut95


    May 27, 2007
    I;m starting to get it a little bit. I find it easier to set yourself a goal. I set my goal as the beginning of classical thump. I'm still a bit sloppy on my triplets but I'm getting there. It seems easier to set a goal then just noodling around. I also try to just throw some double thumping in there when I'm jamming with my brother.:smug:

    +1 on repitition advice, practice makes perfect.
  8. dbcandle


    Jan 30, 2008
    I just "fiddle" with slap, but on a 4-string, double-thumbing doesn't seem too hard.

    For me, the "trick" is to slowly thumb-slap more "across the string" than "at the string", and feel my thumb come to rest a) on the fretboard and b) against the next string. Obviously, here, I'm talking about the first half of the double-thumb. In my "minds-eye", I sort of picture my thumb going "under" the next string (D if I slap on A), between the string and the fretboard. After really "feeling" my thumb come to rest per "a" and "b" above, then I speed-up.

    Now, as for my left-hand technique - let's not go there...
  9. why not? I want to know ur left hand technique!

    just kiddin bro
  10. The problem I seem to have (yeah, never really got double-thumbing down) is that I play 5string almost solely and my left thumb's a hefty size...and I can't physically get cleanly between the strings to get the upstroke! apart from speeding up my standard thumpin', have any of you guys got hints/tips?
  11. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    I can't do it at all myself. My thumb barely extends straight as it is. I am the farthest thing away from hitchiker's thumb ever.
  12. I'm no expert but have been practicing double thumbing for a while and it is a bit like muscle memory. Do exercises and after a while your fingers seem to figure out a way. I good double thumbing exercise from the MarloweDK (playbassnow.com) site where you play through the major scale and down (C), up(D), pop (E), down (F),up (G), pop etc to the octave and and back up the scale if you know what I mean. Although not ideal it is still possible on the close strings of a 5er. I play an inbanez prestige 5 and although more difficult it is possible if you keep practicing. I find your hand needs to relax and that only comes as you get better with practice. Hope that helps.
  13. rayriendeau


    Mar 19, 2007
    Arizona, USA
    All of the above are great advice.
    I just wanted to also add that for me just using more of the tip of my thumb helped me when learning double thumbing. Specifically if you view your thumb as a map, you would use the NW portion of the thumb for both the down and upstroke. The more area of the thumb used the more it's likely to get "stuck" and/or slow you down. You just really want to "brush" by the string just enough to get it to ring. Keeping your thumb rigid while having a relaxed wrist action is very advantageous. I will say it took me awhile to really get a feel for it so just hang in there. As with everything it just takes practice and soon it will become part of your vocabulary.
  14. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    It's all about "raking" (grazing) the string with your thumb and learning to do it "upward and downward", that's all. Don't intellectualize about it too much, just keep working on it.

    Learn how to make your thumb rake the desired string downward and come to rest on the string below it. Try this on each string, until you get the hang of that first. Once you can get that down clean, then you can try going down, then up. Takes time to get it down clean.
  15. StarscreamG1


    Dec 17, 2007
    I recently saw a Wooten vid on Youtube where he is showing double thumbing. I have been practicing it a lot and I to am having probs with it. I can go up (GDAE) reasonably well but going down (EADG) is slow and choppy. And then if I try to play something using that it can get even worse cause right now I am having to concentrate to keep the thumb going down/up instead of down/down. So for the most part I am practicing it with just open strings. :( Should I continue to do that until I can get the mechanics of it smoother and more second nature, instead of having to think about it, or should I try to start playing something with it even as rough as I am right now with it?
  16. gnome_hunter


    Jan 16, 2008
    Ive completely gotten the double thump down, however it seems very awkward playing octaves when im slapping on the E string. any advice here?
  17. TOOL460002

    TOOL460002 Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Santa Cruz CA
    i am admittedly not great at this- but- after a couple years of just double thumb action- i have- in the last 2 weeks- gotten the index finger into play- very pleased. there are a couple things that i find/found helpful:

    playing over the fretboard is easier for me- more consistent- controlled- smaller range of thumb movement. i had pretty long fingernails when i had my breakthrough moment- and that helped me understand what grazing the string was- how much force i should be using. try it with your bass really high up too.

    i had back surgery in september- so ive spent a ton of time flat- in bed. it caused my bass to ride up higher and pushed my right hand from the pickup to fretboard. i have since gained mobility- and it is trickier off your back- but i think of playing flat as training wheels. once you work the pluck in- you will "get" how its done. i cant play like ray or wooten- but at least i know how they do it- as opposed to just understanding the mechanics in slow motion.

    also- someone mentioned thumb shape- and while i only have experience with my thumbs- it does seem like itd be tough to do if your thumb cant at least comfortably maintain a 180* angle- but that might just require a change of wrist position. in any case- heres a picture of my thumb- which im now realizing would make an awesome hand turkey.

  18. bass_extremes


    Jul 9, 2005
    I been playing around with this and I have my downstrokes down but my upstrokes they sound weak. The only way to get a good upstroke is if I use do the upstroke with the middle of my thumb nail under the string. Do you only want to use the NW portion as Ray said?
  19. Capricorn


    Jul 30, 2007
    I have the same problem, going down is doable but after weeks of trying I still didn't find a way to make my upstrokes acceptable.

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