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Floating thumb causing overtones

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by topaxi, Sep 29, 2018.


  1. Nickweissmusic

    Nickweissmusic Knows all intervals from one Fred, to Juan octave Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2014
    San Diego, CA
    I teach lessons and perform live music in and around San Diego CA. Sometimes I even make money doing it!
    Interesting, I’ve never had that problem and definitely use floating technique on all the stringed instruments I play. Are you absolutely positive it’s the muted string ringing out, and not another open string ringing out because of sympathetic vibration? BTW, I mute those open strings with an unused finger on my left hand. At any rate, It only takes a fraction of an inch to move away from a harmonic node, so experiment with moving your hand along the strings a little if it really is a harmonic.
     
  2. topaxi

    topaxi

    Sep 29, 2018
    Yeah, it's definitely the muted strings. I've trying muting all the strings with my thumb and plucking them with the left hand, while moving it around to see if I can find any dead spots. None when I'm using the bridge pickup :(
     
  3. Nickweissmusic

    Nickweissmusic Knows all intervals from one Fred, to Juan octave Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2014
    San Diego, CA
    I teach lessons and perform live music in and around San Diego CA. Sometimes I even make money doing it!
    I lay the “slapping edge” of my thumb across strings to mute, with no problem. It is at somewhat of an angle, which makes more skin contact with the string, not sure if that or the placement is why it’s so effective. But the back of the thumb could definitely work. I play a 5 string often, so muting 3 strings requires laying my thumb over the B E and A. I’ll make a video on it when I get the chance, busy time of year.
     
  4. Mili

    Mili

    Nov 14, 2015
    Earth
    This is the real floating thumb technique. I monitored myself last night and it was clean. I press my palm to the body also. for example when i mute E and A, there is no way to hit E and A accidentally by my left hand so there is only one way for ringing the muted E and A and it's natural vibration and it means you are plucking hard. Floating thumb should be done lightly because the whole advantages of this technique is controling dynamics and gaining much more speed while you are crossing the strings.
    P_20180930_111420.
    P_20180930_111435.
     
    SteveCS likes this.
  5. topaxi

    topaxi

    Sep 29, 2018
    Thanks for the pics! I feel like that is what I'm doing, but there may be some nuance to it that I'm missing. Here's a quick vid of me playing the excercise which made it noticable, hopefully it's good enough quality to see wgat's happening.

     
  6. Mili

    Mili

    Nov 14, 2015
    Earth
    Ok i think the problem is your posture, you are putting your forearm on the body and i can see your thumb doesn't have enough pressure and consistency.
     
  7. topaxi

    topaxi

    Sep 29, 2018
    That might be it! I take my arm of the bass, naturally push a little more at the thumb to anchor myself better, it's definitely reduced the overtones. They're still there, but it probably is just that I have to practice it. I'll work on it for the next couple of days and update you guys! Thanks so much :D
     
    Sonicfrog likes this.
  8. saabfender

    saabfender

    Jan 10, 2018
    Indianapolis
    I float across all basses, including my 5-string (which has fairly narrow string spacing) that way. I have always played a three-finger (with occasional plucked thumb), floating style.

    Come to think of it, it's a very similar hand position I used when playing pedal steel. Boy, talk about an instrument where a lot of your effort is in muting non-played strings. Think keeping four strings quiet is hard? Try wrangling ten.
     
  9. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    It looks like you are using the "moveable anchor," not the "floating thumb."

     
  10. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Lots of players mute the unplayed lower strings with their left-hand fingers (and it sounds great). You can even use your left thumb over the neck to mute the E string, if necessary.

    I was taught that the right-hand thumb is not used to mute the D string. It is only used for the E string (when you are playing on the D or G string) or wedged between the E/A strings (when you are playing the G string).

    The string one below the string I'm playing (the E string when I'm playing on A, or the A string when playing on D, or the D string when playing on G) I mute with the opposite plucking finger. So for example, if I'm plucking the G string with my 1st finger, my 2nd finger is resting on the D string and muting it. Then the 1st finger comes to rest on the D string, and I pluck the next note with my 2nd finger. As my plucking fingers alternate, they take turns muting the adjacent string.
     
  11. topaxi

    topaxi

    Sep 29, 2018
    From what I can tell, you don't want the thumb to wrap around the neck. For me, it definitely kills my agility with the fretting hand. But hey, if it works for you :)

    I tried that, but I found when playing faster runs, the fingers had to move quickly enough that there were enough "gaps" between the muting fingers for it to be more like just hitting the string, causing it to ring as well.
     
  12. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Here's a pic of John Entwistle. The Who were a very loud band, so good muting technique was supremely important for the Ox. Check out how he's using all of his left hand fingers, plus his left-hand thumb, to mute the strings. Nobody ever accused Entwistle of "lacking dexterity" ! I'm not saying you "should" play like this, but it's good to know you have the option. Most of the top players have this tool in their toolbox, for when they need it.
     

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    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  13. Seanto

    Seanto

    Dec 29, 2005
    USA
    I'm no floating thumb expert, but my thumb tends to be more so behind my index finger instead of beside it. But my bass must not be very resonant because even if i am not muting anything with my thumb i don't tend to get sympathetic vibrations, unless playing very loudly with an amp(feedback).

    As far as muting devices, i utilize a few. Left hand tends to lay over strings under the one being played on. Thumb rest on string for right hand is another muting option, as well as just using my actual plucking finger tips/pads.

    Edit: I think i am actually using moveable anchor...my bad.
     
  14. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Haha! Yeah, they are two different -- but equally legit -- techniques, and I think some folks in this thread have been confusing them (as per my previous post).

    Personally, I think of them as close relatives, and I use a kind of hybrid of the two. For example, if I'm playing a series of notes on the G string, I'll more or less anchor my thumb on the A or D string for that duration, but if I'm playing a line that involves a lot of string-crossing, I'll use the floating thumb.
     
    Seanto likes this.
  15. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    You said a lot in that last sentence. It's a common problem when folks listen to too much instruction and try to think too much. It's like learning to use the damper pedal on a piano. For me, somehow I just do it. If I purposely think about it, or try to tell someone else how to do it, I can hardly do it at all. The same with guitar and bass. It seems that some things just come to us. The more you play, the better it gets. I never "worked on " floating thumb technique. I just started doing it. The particulars of how seem to be involuntary in that I don't even notice.

    Or maybe it's like the golf swing. Don't try to "MAKE it happen," but rather "LET it happen."

    Or, how do you throw a rock? Hell, I dunno.
     
    toddbooster likes this.
  16. topaxi

    topaxi

    Sep 29, 2018
    I dunno, I feel like that's how a lot of people develop bad technique. I know on guitar I developed a bad picking habit by just letting it happen, and by the time I realised it was holding back my playing (ten odd years later), it was REALLY hard to change. It's important to cement these sorts of things early.
     
    Lobster11 likes this.
  17. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Well, true dat. I know you're right actually. It's just that sometimes we can get carried away overthinking.

    Heh, now I'm overthinking rethinking everything I just said, LOL.
     
    topaxi likes this.

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