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from anchored thumb to floating thumb

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Matt_T, Feb 18, 2014.

  1. Matt_T


    Dec 18, 2013
    Springdale, AR
    I've been playing with my right thumb anchored on top of the pickup or the E (or B) string for the last 25 years with my wrist cocked at a fairly sharp angle. I use my third and fourth fingers to mute the A and D strings when I'm on the G.

    The small body and rear pickup on the SUB SB4 I got about a month ago has been exacerbating problems that have built up over the years; my right hand has been going numb while playing and there have been shooting pains in my wrist.

    I just discovered floating thumb technique and practiced with it for the first time tonight. It looks like the solution to my quandary. I just have to keep telling myself - don't .. collapse ... the ... wrist.
  2. deeptubes


    Feb 21, 2011
    I have some tilt in all of my necks that provides a decent gap between the body and strings, about 6/10". I wedge my thumb between the strings and body, just touching the neck pickup on the bridge side - automatic string mute. Didn't understand why my basses with identical strings and identical setups played differently until I got a bass with a shallow neck pocket. Then it all clicked. Took me entirely too long to figure that one out.

    numb hand, shooting pain - either a nerve issue, or restricted/cut off blood flow

    And, I have no idea what my first comment has to do with the original post.
  3. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Floating thumb (true floating thumb, not moveable anchor) is one solution to your problem. One that will take a significant change in technique. Another solution to your problem would be to get the plucking arm up and away from the body of the bass, thus neutralizing your wrist position. I've been playing with anchored thumb for over 33 years with no wrist issues by doing this. The key is to learn to pivot on the thumb tip to reach higher pitched strings. The higher the string, the further the elbow moves away from the bass. I would consider this solution to be less of a technique change than would be moving to floating thumb. But, good luck; the key is to be injury-free!
  4. Matt_T


    Dec 18, 2013
    Springdale, AR
    I'm shooting for true floating thumb. It's helpful that I damp with my right hand pinky and ring finger, as well. That kind of helps stabilize things and gets me in position.
  5. Bassisgood4U

    Bassisgood4U Banned

    Jan 30, 2014
    I think you should anchor your thumb on whichever string you're playing on.
  6. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    Wouldn't that ... mute the string you try to play ? :p Maybe great to play ghost notes but outside of that I'm not sure :p
  7. I use both when I am playing at slower tempos I anchor my thumb when I get faster I slowly start to raise my thumb idk if this helps but I like to do it this way
  8. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    Tony Grey has a free floating thumb.
    Fun fact.
  9. Bassisgood4U

    Bassisgood4U Banned

    Jan 30, 2014
    Coulda worded that much better, or at least made sense.

    Anchor your thumb on the E string if you're playing on the A. Anchor your thumb on the A string if you're playing on the D. Float like a butterfly...nevermind.