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floating thumb techniqe

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Torvus, Feb 18, 2006.

  1. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    You partly answered your own question: With the floating thumb, you don't need to use other fingers for muting strings because the thumb is doing it.

    I think the other main reason is to ensure consistency of attack across strings. With the floating thumb or moveable anchor, the position and shape of your hand, as well as the angle at which your finger strikes the string, is exactly the same no matter which string you are playing.
  2. joeblasted


    Sep 15, 2006
    far too much to read in this thread, but the crux of the matter is,

    one needs to play CLEANLY. anything that's not being "noted" is being muted. anything that should not be noted, that is not muted, translates to garbage rumble that only serves to bring up the noise floor, and will also make the band as a whole sound worse.

    mute left hand right hand right pinky left thumb, no matter how you have to get it done, get it done so that you're only sounding the notes that need to be played.

    whatever technique one has to employ in whatever situation, whatever works, go with it, so long as the prime directive of clean deep fat bass is served.
    iain westland likes this.
  3. After 35 years of anchoring my thumb on pickups, neck heel and strings I thought I give this technique a chance. Interestingly, when used alone or combined with anchoring, the floating thumb makes me use my index and ring finger having a sort of "floating middle finger"! Don't get me wrong, the middle finger also gets used a lot but 1st&3rd finger work more. Previously 1st&2nd finger were busy and 3rd finger was for string crossing quickly. Anyway, I'm sure that the amount of time I put in playing and practicing will correct this. Early days. Very intrigued! Other thing is, even though I play relaxed, because my right hand more lelaxed my left hand feel even more relaxed. I was playing the heads of scrapple for the apple anthropology and interplay this morning "super fast" and it was flowing very nicely. Perhaps this floating technique was just what I needed to take right hand to next level. Hmmm
    Mr_McBride likes this.
  4. After some days of practice I still find that hanging my thumb in such relaxed position also effects my left hand! Strange as it sounds! Apart from a pain in the outer side of my thumb from the strings it's going well. I guess in time callous will form there too.
  5. Herrick


    Jul 21, 2010
    Munchkin Land
    I envy the bass players who can play really well without using the floating thumb.
  6. Creede


    May 15, 2015
    Why, though? As far as I'm aware, there aren't really any benefits to it.
  7. Herrick


    Jul 21, 2010
    Munchkin Land
    It looks like they can play faster. I think it takes more time to move the thumb up and down than it does to just anchor it on a pickup or lower string.
  8. Creede


    May 15, 2015
    Once you get comfortable with floating thumb or anchoring, it's faster IMO.
    Bob Lee (QSC) likes this.
  9. Herrick


    Jul 21, 2010
    Munchkin Land
    I need to practice it more. I often end up hitting the string above the one I'm trying to anchor. Like when I move my thumb to set it on the A string to play the D, I end up hitting the E!
  10. Creede


    May 15, 2015
    Yup. Just about slow practice to gain control.
  11. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Alphonso Johnson has said that he adopted the floating thumb technique after a recording engineer soloed his channel and showed him how the strings under the one he was playing were droning.
    Geri O likes this.
  12. LoveThatBass


    Jun 28, 2004
    Why, who cares. Everyone is different.
  13. Herrick


    Jul 21, 2010
    Munchkin Land
    Because it looks like it takes more control & precision and I admire that. Why do you care what I care about?
  14. LoveThatBass


    Jun 28, 2004
    I rest the side of my thumb on the strings and it slides vertically up and down muting the string/or strings not being used above the string you are plucking.
    Bob Lee (QSC) likes this.
  15. Bioflava


    Feb 14, 2016
    Hi TBers,

    With apologies if someone has brought this up already in this 20-page thread: Does anyone use Scott Devine's semi-floating-thumb technique?

    Here's his explanation:

    Before watching this video, I kept my thumb anchored on the pickup and muted with my left-hand only, but now that I've been using this technique, I like -- although, from watching a lot of videos online of various players, it doesn't seem to be very commonly used.
    David A. Davis likes this.
  16. _sky_


    Jan 8, 2012
    I´m better at the floating thumb technique (only rest the thumb on string when not going from string to string). At the begining the shoulder didn´t feel good but now i´m used to it with no desconfort in the hand and in the shoulder.

    But I think that I started playing ever more cleaning when I tried to mute with the left hand. It is a big help to mute with the "fret" hand because you can kill a lot of noise with it.
    J_Bass likes this.
  17. Arion


    Jul 16, 2016
    I sometimes anchor the thumb on the string when playing straight eighths or sixteenths basslines, like Muse's "Hysteria" (can't play at full speed though) or Coldplay's "Clocks". This comes naturally however. I watched that video, and floating thumb is my primary muting technique. I also anchor the thumb on the pickup a lot when there's nothing to do on the G-string. There's more consistency in alternate fingering.
    The "anchor floating thumb" is not much used by people because the anchored thumb can pop the string when changing the anchor.
    Bioflava likes this.
  18. vin97


    Mar 7, 2016
    Yes, I do it that way, except my thumb only goes up to the A string (and only when playing the G string) since the string directly below the one I am playing is being muted by either index or middle finger.
    I guess you could call it "floating anchor"? :D
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2016
  19. David A. Davis

    David A. Davis Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2008
    Summerville, SC
    I started using it a few months ago after watching a Todd Johnson seminar on Scott's (Devine) Bass lessons. Unbelievable difference .
  20. MarkM13


    Mar 29, 2015
    CT - USA
    Has anyone used the floating thumb technique while popping? I'm new to slapping and am finding that when I pop on the G string it's easier to mute by keeping the thumb in the traditional floating position but applying a bit of downward pressure to mute the E A D strings. It does mean the popping finger move in more of an up and down motion as opposed to a rotation motion. Other than that I can't see a disadvantage but, I'm new...


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