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Fretting without thumb

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Jhass, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. Jhass


    Dec 21, 2013
    I know it is ideal to use arm pressure to "pull" your fretting fingers against the strings, rather than clamping with the thumb. But when I try to do that, even lightly, the neck just moves as I pull my fingers against the fretboard. How do I keep the neck steady? Should my thumb be there just to provide resistance, but not to squeeze the neck?
  2. Jefff


    Aug 14, 2013
    Exactly. light pressure on your thumb.

    You are trying to play the bass, not choke it.

    Also... don't over think this. You play the bass, the bass doesn't play you.
  3. You shouldn't be using your arm, at all. You might try a wider/heavier/padded strap, to arrest neck dive and stabilize the bass. Your thumb should just be applying light pressure to the back of the neck. If you're wrestling the neck, you're handicapping yourself.
  4. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    yeah, where did "use your arm to pull the fretting finger against the strings" come from? that doesn't even make sense, you'd just be pulling your bass out of tune from neck flexing, and you'd have to be pushing on the body with your plucking hand at the same time to even do it.
  5. Jefff


    Aug 14, 2013
    I think he is talking about some videos I have seen that show people playing without the thumb touching the back of the neck.

    Stuff like this is just an OVER illustrated example of how little thumb pressure you really need to play.

    Many of us learned to play before youtube... or the internet....or personal computers existed.

    We were lucky.
  6. On double bass, you DEFINITELY pull with the wright of your arm. Otherwise you're putting way more effort into bass than you have to.

    On electric, you don't need half as much pressure. Just don't squeeze the neck and you'll be fine
  7. I wouldn't pay much attention to this. Just use as little force in your hand as you can get away with. Gripping too tightly will slow you up and tire you down.
  8. Jhass


    Dec 21, 2013
    Thanks for all the advice, everybody. It is very helpful.
  9. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    You have it it in the last sentence, it provides resistance to the fingers.
    But the design and shape of the neck makes it convenient to grip, just because we can grip it does not mean we should.
    The way we are designed means because of our opposable thumb we can grip things, but with in that is grip pressure.....the one thing we cannot see.
    So to learn about it we need to feel what no pressure is.
    This is the purpose of videos that show and teach with the thumb off the neck.
    It allows you to "reverse engineer" the technique.
    Rather than start with more pressure than needed learn to reduce it to the correct amount, you start with none and a relaxed hand and bring it up to the correct pressure....but always relax the hand to return back to a position of no pressure, or minimal pressure as often as you can.

    Check out the links.
    That Pesky Thumb (Pt. 1&2)


  10. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    Yeah to many people look clueless and instead of trying and think for a second, they go look on the internet even before trying it for the first time.
  11. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Everything is so overthought these days. Of course you grip the neck, just don't grip it any harder than you need to. Simple.