I play the low E with my thumb, is that weird?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by brich74, Oct 24, 2005.

  1. brich74

    brich74 Guest

    Well, is it? I use my fingers for the other 3 and rest my thumb on the E when I'm not using it. It seems natural to me.
  2. Ray-man

    Ray-man Guest

    Sep 10, 2005
    What if you have to rattle off a string of 16th notes on the E string?
  3. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    "I normally use my thumb and index finger; I use thumb downstrokes when I'm chuggin' eigth notes . . . It's a light thumbstroke. You don't need to bash it . . . but it still gives a nice, thick sound"
    -Paul McCartney in last months Bass Player

    I use my index and ring fingers, with the very occasional thumb on the E-string when my right hand is in a weird position. Also for triple-stops.
  4. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    I use my thumb sometimes, especially if I'm playing chords. I also sometimes use T-1-T-2 for rattling off those 16ths. If it works for you and isn't causing you injury (or holding you back), why worry?
  5. That's not strange at all.

    It's important to have a variety of techniques at your disposal. I regularly use my thumb on the E, and sometimes the A string, while I use my other two or three fingers on the upper strings. This happens frequently when I'm trying to play some sophisticated lines, involving two parts simultaneously (think, playing in tenths, or playing a melody interspersed with an implied bassline underneath it). As for the need to play quickly on the E-string... use a double-thumb technique (this technique can be used without actually *slapping* the string, and gives a meaty plucking sound).

    Of course, if I'm playing a straight-ahead groove bassline, I usually stick to regular finger-style.

    It's not uncommon to switch between the two positions. To become totally flexible, you need to be comfortable in a variety of situations. The more I discover the bass's awesome potential, the more I realize that you have to do things other people don't to explore the entire breadth of the instrument.

    ... my two cents
  6. +1
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I wouldn't play every single note on the E with my thumb, but I think thumb skill is a good one to have.
  8. I usually use my thumb when I need to play a note on a string lower than the one my other fingers are on. I don't even notice most of the time, since it's an ingrained habit.
  9. Quite normal, actually. There are many different techniques when it comes to "fingering", and the use of the thumb is not unusual. I do it. I don't usually leave the thumb planted on the E though... I use it everywhere else so it's constantly moving around either playing or muting a string/s.
  10. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Just make sure that there are no blatant consistency of attack or tone issues with your thumb relative to your other fingers. That will likely weaken your lines considerably. Otherwise, have at it. If for whatever reason you find yourself needing to do something your thumb isn't quite capable of, I'm sure you know how to adapt. By and large though, it's not really a problem.

    You might want to give a peek at a classical guitar book to get an idea of 'proper' hand/wrist placement, or run it by your teacher, just to make sure you're not potentially hurting yourself, but otherwise, yup, jusdoit.
  11. i do it occasionally as well...ive seen geddy lee do it too
  12. I do something like that. I don't use my thumb only on the E string though. I've adapted my thumb as a 3rd pluckin finger. I use it 80% of the time I play, the same way I use my index and middle. It's not slapping, I just pluck with my thumb like the other 2. It makes some lines easier, some harded. But I'll tell you this, it makes for some killer-fast non-slap triplets: T-I-M-T-I-M. On any string(s), it sounds crazy when you built up the speed a little.
  13. ive been working on something like that