Floating the thumb?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by yawnsie, Sep 9, 2001.

  1. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    I've just been reading one of JT's famous smackdowns over in Basses, and he mentions the need for floating the thumb when playing a seven string bass. I presume that this means not resting your thumb on the pickup, string, or whatever, but I wondered if anyone would care to elaborate a little more on it, and what benefits it has. Most of you are nice like that. ;)
  2. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    I also use the floating thumb. If I play on the G I rest my thumb on the D, if I play one the my thumb is on the A, ect...
    I doN't know exactly why I started to do it. I was not doing it before and one day I was playing, I looked at my right hand and I was doing it. SOmetimes I try to rest on the pick up only and I can't!
    Now if I don't do it I can't mute my strings.
    SO, I guess, the reason I do it is mostly for muting.
  3. I originaly started doing it randomly too. I think it was when i switched from a P bass to a J bass.... On the p, i'd rest it on the pickup, because thats where the most desireable tone was on that bass was coming from. On the j though, i noticed that i favored the tone, and string firmness between the two pickups, and there was no where to put my thumb, so it just started floating. You dont actuly never put your tumb down, more of its constantly moving from different anchor points. When playing the a or d stirng, i anchor on the e string, while on the e string, i'm on nothing. while on the g string, i anchor on the a string.
  4. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
  5. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Thanks for the advice everyone, and the article BG. It appears that I've actually been floating my thumb for some time now without realising it - I didn't know that it just hanging your thumb on the string below the one you're plucking!
  6. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    I kinda do a floating thumb thing sometimes. Not all the time... it just depends on what I am playing. of course I play a 5 string not a 7.. :)
  7. I started out of sheer frustration;that is,trying to keep those dang fat strings from vibrating though my next note!Now it is natural and I don`t think I could go back to stationary thumb.
  8. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Place the thumb. And leave it. That's my philosophy ;)

  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Mv view of "floating thumb" is the same as Adam Nitti explains in his recent article in Bass Player with photos - was it the Sept issue?

    That is, when I'm not using my thumb to play notes on lower strings or things like slap, double stops, palm muted walking lines,artificial harmonics etc. ; it is pointing downwards across all the strings (not just one) below the one I'm playing and muting them.

    But really my thumb is an integral part of my playing style and is never redundant.
  10. Hmm, I've always thought of floating the thumb as having it not touch anthing, just hang around with the hand.
  11. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    5 fingers are better than 4. Use your thumb or evolution will take it away from you. Heck, look what happened to our pinky toes.:eek:
  12. I can sort of grab things with my pinky toes... I'd say my feet are unusually dextrous.

    But yea.. I started floating my thumb because I was having a real hard time keeping things quiet. Nowadays I can't bring myself to play with my thumb anchored.