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Double Thumbing- Tips on getting enough meat on the upstroke?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by vindibona1, Mar 31, 2018.

  1. I don't see how I can be a complete bassist without knowing how to double thumb adequately as part of learning slap technique. And while I don't think I have issues with the motion, per se, my upstroke always seems weak. I've got little "meat" next to my thumbnail, so while doing the downstroke is ok, coming back up doesn't seem to strike the string with the same intensity. Maybe I'm approaching even the downstroke wrong too by striking too far forward on my thumb?

    I see a lot of guys' thumb bent way back when thumping or thumbing. It is bent back so they can strike the string closer to the knuckle? I guess the first question I'm asking is, on the downstroke, what part of the thumb is supposed to strike the string for slap? The second part of the question is, what is the best part of the thumb to catch on the way up so that the up and down strokes are more even?

  2. There are 2 kinds of slaps I use primarily. 1 is what I call the “flea” style which uses the side of the thumb and a harder strike to the string then bounce off. The other is what I call the “Marcus miller” style where I use the left side of the tip of my thumb and strike through the string. That leaves me with the option to pull it back up through the string and double thumb. I use medium gauge nickel and stainless strings with really low action and I only really double thumb well on 19mm string spacing.
    Alik likes this.
  3. I've seen a lot of guys with their thumbs bent way back where I don't see how they could catch the tip of their thumb in either direction. I see this in guitar finger picking as well, but in regard to that I tend to curve my thumb in to catch the string rather than bend it out. The downstroke is no problem because there is a lot of solid area on the bottom-inside portion of my thumb. Thumping isn't a problem beyond learning how much force to use and the timing of the rebound. Perhaps I need to examine a happy medium on the upstroke and try to find a spot on my thumb that catches most easily on the upstroke?
  4. I’ll try to post a video for you if I get a second
  5. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    I’ll be following this.

    Another member posted a great video tutorial a while back that got me started and laid things out well, but I’ve been finding the same problem no matter what I try. I watched it many times and just can’t duplicate what I hear/see others do.
    Just a lack of power, or “snap”, to the upstroke. I’m hoping this problem being directly addressed can help me over this hump.. apparently I’m not the only one!

    Thanks OP for the thread & thanks anyone who can contribute advice!
  6. Alright, this video, while dimly lit, may help to show how much actual thumb tip and where I use it for double thumbing.
    1. Notice I will downstroke through the string
    2. Notice I will pull back equally as hard. This is where the curled back thumb thing comes from, it’s not because the whole thumb is used, its because the thumb has to be somewhat rigid on the upstroke.
    It’s a quick video shot from above the strings so again notice my technique is not straight down toward the string but rather at a sweeping motion.
    Notes...did this one handed with a mute on the strings, not plugged in and holding my phone to give the the best view i could think of.
    Alik and RobTheRiot like this.
  7. Just posted a video, not the cleanest or best video but it’s in slow motion so you can see what is happening. God I wish I had this stuff when I was 20. Lol
    RobTheRiot likes this.
  8. Thank you. I think I'm approaching it the right way. I guess I have to get the angle right on both sides of the stroke to get the upstroke to snape. How yard are you actually hitting the strings? Something tellse me that a lot of guys who look like they're slamming the strings have a really light touch. It all happens so fast it's hard to tell. Also with the pluck-snap I can't tell how much the index finger moves to do the action and how rigid the hand is so that the rotation/rebound of the thumb slap is responsible for the pluck-snap with the index?
  9. mbelue


    Dec 11, 2010
    There are 2 way to think about your problem.
    1. Weak upstroke.
    2. Overly strong downstroke.

    Maybe focus on getting #2 tamed?

    This was a big help for my technique.
    Wasnex and RobTheRiot like this.
  10. Here’s another view of triplets , with a little better light
  11. This happens really fast so a lighter touch is necessary. Watch on the triplets video I just put up how I don’t snap the string straight up I pull it more to the side.
    It takes a lot of repetition to pull this stuff off and I’m sorry for the junky video quality but I’m not set up for pro video tutorials. Just watch how the fingers move vs how your fingers move
  12. I was thinking about this already. I think I sort of have the motion down, but need to balance the sound of both strokes to sound like they belong together.

    I never realized how much more complicated the bass right hand is compared to guitar.
  13. Lol, I started on guitar and the rhythm of the left and right hand together is what made bass so much more mind blowing to me.
    I use this stuff all the time playing for myself but rarely get to break it out for live stuff. But I play live for them and at home for me. Have fun with it and I hope it helped you out.
  14. Oh yeah... you and this thread is helping a lot. So many dimensions to it that one doesn't think about for "normal" playing. I'm finding that my thumb and hand are rotate too far clockwise so turning it in changes what can grab the string on the upstroke. But it's also changing how I'm thinking about a basic thump as well.
  15. I’m just happy it’s helping. I used to watch wooten vhs tapes back in the day and he would use these huge downstrokes the talk about “think of you thumb as a pick” and it would leave me terribly confused. It almost looks like he is strumming. Marcus miller would post teaser videos and those would leave me baffled cause it was kinda the same sound but the technique looked different.
  16. mbelue


    Dec 11, 2010
    Its easy to dig in and get a meaty thump on the down.
    When practicing technique I turn my amp up louder than I would otherwise.
    It tricks me into controlling my right hand more than I would otherwise when an accidental heavy hand is much more "shocking."
    Also I focus on striking the string right where my nail meets the skin on the upstroke.
    Trying to get as much meat as possible on the upstroke.

    Lastly, up first then down so you know what to match your downstroke to.

    Learning techniques like double thump or bidirectional multifinger I'm listening for mistakes not tone so no fancy eq, contour switches or compressor.

    After my technique is down I'll practice with EQ and compression and work on tone.

    Good luck, right hand technique on bass guitar is very rewarding.
    Jrussblues likes this.
  17. Thanks. That is helpful too. I'm practicing DT and focusing a lot on the sound. The DT appears to be a little more challenging on my Yamaha 605 with narrower string spacing and easier on my Ibby BTB and Squier VM70.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  18. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    At first, you don't need to focus on your sound. You need to learn and get used to double thumb "mechanics".
    Yes, different bass guitars tend to either help you or make it more difficult to double thumb.
    Another thing, the "perfect" depth - between the strings and the bass body - on my JB helps me to DT easier. My thumb stops at the right place, but...
    The most important thing about that DT at first is the "mechanical process".

    P.S. One more "personal" story.
    Many decades ago, I was "the young and the restless" (energetic) and used to break a lot of strings on a regular basis, but...
    Instead of "going nuts", I've used that time, let's say, without the A string to practice my double thumb on the E string. :smug:
    There was so much space between the E and D strings.:bassist:

    P.S. Please don't try it at home. It's my personal "issue" and I'm still dealing with it.:roflmao:
    mbelue likes this.
  19. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Another thing, I belong to some small but "strange" group of self-taught Slappers who place their pinkies on the bass board. And it was so "re-freshening" to know that there are more people like me in the world.

    Odd fingers' position when slapping
  20. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    What's a "bass board"?
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Nov 27, 2020

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