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double thumb technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bassmanjan, May 9, 2004.


  1. hi everybody-

    my name is jan, i live in germany and i have been playing bass for over eight years now. after having started mainly for necessity reasons in my first band, i discovered a preference for the deep fat notes that eventually turned out to become a growing passion...
    since i came from the guitar, i started practicing bass intuitively, by listening and playing, barely on instruction or notations. it has always been working, but however i would like to teach myself some particular bass techniques that i can't quite figure out by myself. lately i have been reading and hearing a lot on the 'double thumb technique'. i found several demos on the net and tried it, but the result wasn't satisfactory at all.
    so i'm asking if anyone is familiar with this technique and could give me some advise?

    -jan
     
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    hi! welcome to talkbass!

    It's very hard to describe via text, but the trick is using your thumb like a pick, with very little effort/force. Most use too much force.
     
  3. thanx for your quick reply :)

    where is the force actually supposed to come from, from my wrist or the thumb itself?
     
  4. Limo

    Limo

    Sep 22, 2002
    Reykjavik Iceland
    I would think you'd keep your thumb "stiff" and move you wrist.
     
  5. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    There is a range of ways to do double thumbing. On one end of the spectrum, you can leave your arm and wrist fixed, and just move your thumb. On the other end of the spectrum, you can leave your thumb and wrist fixed, and just move your arm. In between, there's some wrist movement.

    Here's how I do it most of the time. Place palm gently on the low string, perhaps even muting it slightly. Use that position as the fulcrum point for the movement. When you do this, you'll notice that your wrist will rotate naturally around that point. Also, your thumb will be completely free to move independently of your wrist, although the natural tendency is to move them together.

    The thumb should be solid but not stiff. In other words, you'll notice when you hit the low string that there's an optimal point where your sound will be well defined without being harsh and without thumping so hard that you're getting wood noises off the fingerboard. That's about the middle of the groove. If you use that as your starting point, you can go either gentler or harder depending on the requirements of each note.

    When the thumb is stiffer, you can dig in and get some gnarly grind. When the thumb is softer, you can get some excellent fusionish and jazzy type sounds. I'm not sure that there's one correct way of doing this, this is just the way that works for me "most of the time". YMMV and all that. For me, the force comes from a combined movement of the wrist and thumb. The wrist is the primary driver, but the thumb is used to control the nuances.
     
  6. I like to do it in a way similar to the flamenco alzapua technique. I'll rest my pinky, ring finger, and sometimes my middle and first finger on the bass's body, below the strings. I may put my index on the G string, or I may let it float. From there, I pick up and down with my thumb, using thumb motion only. That's my technique anyway.
     
  7. BassBaron

    BassBaron

    Jul 20, 2001
    San Jose, CA
    I use a 'floating thumb' technique where I anchor my thumb on whatever string (or pickup) is comfortable for the string I'm playing. Sometimes I find myself hitting the "anchor string" with my thumb if its handy, particularly if I'm diving down an octave. Anyone else does this?