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Double Thumbing - specific questions

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by therealting, Aug 21, 2004.

  1. Not one of those general questions on "how do you double thumb".

    Have been doing some practice on this, have seen the demo videos, and have a couple of questions for the experts:

    • Which part of the top of your thumb actually hits / pulls the string on the way up? Is it the nail (which is where I usually tend to hit it), or the flesh just next to the nail?
    • I find it very difficult to get enough force on the upstroke to achieve an adequate "pop". Is that just a matter of consciously having a more forceful upstroke to begin with until I build up strength in that particular movement, or am I doing it wrong?
    • Is higher or lower tension helpful when starting out? I have ben practicing this on my 6-string (32-130) and am wondering whether I should maybe try it on my short scale 4-string first.

  2. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    I figured it out a few days ago... It's really hard to explain.. but with light gauge strings, you really don't have to think about it or really try.. It just kind of happens.
  3. Yeah, in the upstroke it's across the nail.

    What might help you in getting more force in the upstroke is instead of hitting with your thumb parallel, actually move your hand down farther, so you hit the string from a 45 degree angle from below. Check out this to get an idea of what I'm talking about:

  4. Use light guage strings with super low action and you'll get the idea in a matter of minutes.
  5. Hi Johann,

    I'm no double-thumper (I can barely slap old-school) but I thought Vic's explanation of Double-Thumping was pretty clear in his Bass Day '98 DVD.

    If you haven't seen it, I'd highly recommend the video for info/entertainment/inspiration. It's not the ultimate video on the topic, but it's a worthy buy.

  6. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Yup. I'm glad that I got hold of it before I got too much in the habit of bouncing my thumb off the string instead of his method of following through the string (hence leaving me all ready for a double-thumb)! I'm also glad that I'm starting right out getting used to crossing my index finger under the thumb so - or at least not flail my fingers out, more like old-school - that I'm ready to use it instantly (or otherwise) to pluck the the same same string that I just thumbed. I think it's working out so far to sort of reserve the index for strings close to the thumbed one, and trying to mainly use my middle for pulled notes that are more than one string away (but I haven't started doing those so-far-impossible two-fingered double-pops yet - who knows how I'll have to change for that!).

    I love the idea that with this follow-through method I can (or WILL be able to, when I'm not so majorly awkward at it!) adjust the tone so easily by how fast I move my thumb past the string - tones anywhere from pluck-like to that classic thunder-thumb punch.

    Practice, practice...

  7. Thanks for the tips guys. I managed to get closer today after using the hint about the top of the fingernail, although I have gotten a bit of fingernail wear! Maybe I need to use clear nail polish on the thumbnail.

    I will try and get hold of the Bass Day DVD, I am clearly missing out because of it!
  8. hey guys,

    I've been playing a musicman stingray for a while now, and I've also been trying to learn double thump. I've always played with the heaviest gauge strings I can buy, but would switching to a lighter gauge string really be helpful?

    I've been spending about an hour each day also playing tommy the car & DMV to fix my slapping and fingering techniques, and both sound great, but would i benefit as a whole from lighter strings?
  9. If you like what you've got now, there's no reason to switch. My strings are on the heavy side now (flatwounds), and the action is higher than I'd use if I wanted effortless slap. I had much lower tension and action for a while, but then I put these old strings on for fun, and left the action a bit high as well. My fingers sure did hurt for a while, but I really like the percussive sound I get when slapping. You'll have an easier time with thinner strings, but you won't necessarily like them better.
  10. battousai


    Sep 3, 2004
    Nashville, TN
    Yo! This is my first time post.

    I always had a hard time double thumping until I got my Surine bass. It has a big wooden trussrod cover below the fingerboard and it prevents my thumb from going down too far below the strings. I had to adjust my slap technique, but now it is lighter, but more efficient than ever. I actually can't double thump very well on any other bass. I use the left edge of my thumb nail when coming up. It hurt real bad at first, but now I am used to it. I also use standard gauge strings, too.
  11. Pause


    Jun 4, 2003
    Miami, FL
    I don't think I can doublethumb, but I can almost do it on most 24 fret basses. I am nowhere near being able to do it on my Jazz or other 20 fret basses
  12. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    ...So are you saying that anyone could just put something in there as a 'finger-stop', and try that? What's the measured distance between your strings and this cover?


  13. is there any way someone could just post a picture of their thumb from dead-on while double slapping so I could know a way people are doing it? There's a million ways to SAY it, but i don't think any words can show me what I really just need to see
  14. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    I was never able to do any wooten stuff before I switched to Rotosound FunkMasters FM66.. .30-.90 gauge.. Good stuff.
  15. When I'm seriously double thumping and don't have higher gauge strings, I detune slightly and it works wonders. I don't have a digital camera on me, so I can't post any pictures on how I do it. There are plenty of movie downloads on the net that show it pretty clearly, though. I've posted some very good movie links in previous double-thumping threads. Search and you will find.

  16. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    I never use my nail... I use the skin next to my nail. It'll blister at first but after awhile it'll be fine.
    The way I double thumb is:
    I keep my thumb dead locked. My wrist is the only part that makes my thumb hit the strings and my elbow/shoulder move my thumb from string to string.
    I highly recommend that you DO NOT use your fingernail. I don't believe fingernails create callouses (or toughen up) and prolonged use of them will wear them down whereas skin heals rapidly (between sessions) and skin toughens up too.
  17. i searched but all of the links to videos are dead, or lead to websites which don't host videos any more
  18. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    1. Usually the flesh, but if you use the nail, that's fine too.

    2. Rather than increasing the force of the upstroke, try decreasing the force of your usual slap. This will get the downstrokes and upstrokes to sound more even. Remember, the idea behind the technique is to minimize hand/finger motion.

    3. Lower tension obviously helps at the start. But you should eventually learn to use the technique with whatever gauge string you intend to perform with.
  19. Thanks for the replies.

    1. Which edge of the finger? I tend to catch it on the right side of my right thumb (as I look at it in a thumbs-up position).

    2. Makes a lot of sense. Need to work on control.

    3. Thanks.
  20. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
    When you start off your probably not going to get a slap sound. But if you keep the right technique, your hand will become strong enough to easily rip out sixteenth notes with good slap definition. And make sure if you want to use double thumb in a slap riff to slap a way that will sound even. I can get many slap tones by chnaging where and how I hit the string, so try and get a slap tone very similar to your double thumb tone.