floating thumb techniqe

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


  1. Papageno

    Papageno

    Nov 16, 2015
    France
    Yes, floating thumb works well for me too. The lowest string (E in my case) needs special handling: on the electric BG, I put it on the pickup; on the acoustic BG, which has no pick up, simply resting the side of the thumb on the top of the bass works well.
     
  2. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    It can feel a little disconnected, but there is a huge difference between 'resting on' and 'being in contact with' something.

    Floating Thumb is something I've been doing since the mid '80s, and one of the things I like about it is the sense of spatial reference from feeling something on the side of the thumb whilst being totally free from any kind of anchor. I think it helps to maintain good right hand posture, which in itself brings many other technical and musical benefits. Most of the time the thumb is sensing the unplayed strings, but when playing the lowest string it might be the edge of the pickup, or a pickguard screw, or something else. It is not a permanent contact at one place, but a set of 'landmarks' which can, with practice, be used instinctively and instantly to align the hand in three dimensions. The point is that there is no pressure or force in the contact, just enough 'laying on' to give an awareness of the hand position relative to the instrument.

    This from 1989*:
    20180523_053148.jpg

    * About 25 years before I'd even heard of Gary Willis. He may be credited with bringing the technique to wider attention but he absolutely did not invent it.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2021
    Les Fret likes this.
  3. Naigewron

    Naigewron

    Jan 5, 2018
    Norway
    Absolutely. As you may or may not see clearly in the video, I'm not anchoring or resting my thumb on the pickup, it's just touching it; more as a point of reference than an anchor.
     
    SteveCS likes this.
  4. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    I had guessed as much. It looks good. :thumbsup:

    The only comment I would make - and if this is out of place please put me in mine - is about maybe being more consistent with your right-hand fingering. It is very index-focussed, and your use of the middle finger seems somewhat random - same things played differently for no apparent reason. Of course it may be totally deliberate and developed that way for good reason, but I can only go on what I can see, which as we've just shown is rarely the whole picture!
     
    Naigewron likes this.
  5. Naigewron

    Naigewron

    Jan 5, 2018
    Norway
    Yup, that's something I've noticed only as I've begun watching myself back on video lately.

    I haven't specifically worked on alternating technique much, but if you had asked me a few months ago I would have told you with certainty that I alternate my picking fingers, combined with raking when moving back up the strings. Only recently have I noticed that this isn't actually the case.

    It seems to be linked to speed for me. The faster I play, the more consistently my fingers will alternate. When I'm playing a constant 8th note pattern, the only break from alternating will be raking.

    So yeah, it's a weird one, and I'll probably look into whether it's something I should work on, or whether it's "weird, but functional", since it seems to sort itself out when the part requires it.
     
  6. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Something that really helped me was eliminating* hammer-ons and pull-offs, which also seem to be a big part of your playing. If you try to articulate every note with the right hand you will soon get tonal and workload balance between your right-hand fingers, which in turn reduces stress and improves stamina.

    * I'm not saying don't use hammer-ons and pull-offs, they are a perfectly valid part of a rounded approach, but they have a different sound to a plucked note. I'm suggesting practicing exercises deliberately with and without them. Being proficient with both techniques expands your timbral palette.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2021
  7. Naigewron

    Naigewron

    Jan 5, 2018
    Norway
    Tips well taken and appreciated. No matter what, I could definitely stand to be much more aware of how I play, even if I end up not necessarily seeing the need to change some specific aspect of it.
     
    SteveCS likes this.
  8. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    This exactly. Extra points for the bit about the wristband, which I find to be essential when not wearing long sleeves.
     
    Naigewron likes this.
  9. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    It cannot harm to touch the pickup or body or resting on it slightly. But if you have fast runs or string jumps where you only play a few notes on the B string you don't really really have time to touch anything with your thumb. That's why I leave it completely floating in those cases. So the transition from the E to the B string is more natural and fluent (to me at least...)
     
    Naigewron likes this.
  10. 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.

     
    Aug 2, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.