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Left hand thumb position

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Tom14454, Jan 5, 2001.

  1. Tom14454


    Feb 5, 2000
    I've been playing for about a year and a half and I've come across a problem. When I go up to the higher frets (17+) and play on the e string, my thumb has a tendency to creep up over the side. Any suggestions? Should I put my thumb under where 15th fret would be?
  2. How low (or high) are you wearing your bass? If it's particularly low on the strap, you're going to have trouble reaching any higher notes, and your thumb will tend to come over the top of the neck. Raising your strap may help alleviate the problem.
  3. would have to go with gard on this one, strap height is the key. i wear my bass fairly high but my thumb still sneaks up sometimes. i don't really worry about it much i have injured my wrist before so i pretty much let them do want they need to do for comfort. i wear my bass so my hands are comfortable from the 12th fret and above. what the heck are you doing up at the 17th fret anyways?
    if you spend a lot of time up there you probally should go get a 6 string :)
  4. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Big IF here and that is if it's not stressing your wrist don't worry about it. Ever see photos of Stanley Clarke? Lots of thumb showing sometimes. If it is stressing your wrist though shorten your strap.
  5. Hey dudes,

    Most times I just have my thumb parellel to the neck, directly on the back of it. Then I try to start holding it perpendicular to the neck, as I see most people say it is the most ergonomicaly correct way. But I have trouble with finger strength, pushing the strings down.

    Holding your thumb parellel to the neck (for me) helps keep your wrist straight, so I usually do that. Holding your thumb perp. to the neck results in my wrist being bent. So... Use whatever is most comfortable to you, and listen to the guys on this board, they know what they are about.
  6. a good way i came over the lack of finger strength in the "correct" thumb position is to play scales extra slow.
    it gives you the chance to fret each note perfect and the slowness seems to delvelop the muscles. just like say a pro body builder exersises, they move the weights slow so every muscle is properly brought into movement.
    hope that helps ya.
  7. MyOwnSummer69


    Jan 5, 2001
    I used to have the same problem. I feel very comfortable with wearing my strap quite low, but I manage to get around it. The others are right, wearing your strap higher helps.
  8. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Gotta add this. The size of one's hand and the size of the neck of the bass would certainly have some impact on how comfortable thumb positions will be. Also, I have arthritis in my left thumb, the one that I knocked out of joint playing volleyball forty years ago. I just have to play with my thumb however I can stand it.

    Jason Oldsted
  9. Tom14454


    Feb 5, 2000
    Let me elaborate on my problem. I'm sitting down and if I"m playing more than two notes on the e string, my thumb has a tendency to want to touch my pointer. Wearing my bass up definitely helps, but I'm talking when I'm in jazz band and have to play some high notes when I'm sitting down. Should I just elevate my leg?
  10. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    That will work. I've used a classical guitar foot stool or what is mechanically more correct a piece of foam (and more recently an A-Frame) between the leg and bass to prop it up.
    This is with the acoustic bass guitar that's my main bass; with the electric it's easier to wear a strap when sitting to achieve the same effect. I'd try that. It really sounds like you need a lesson or three with a teacher who's gone through all this himself. Either that or post a picture of how you're holding the thing...
  11. to quote Billy Sheehan: your bass should be hanging the same way sitting or standing.

    that would be all strap.
  12. bassguy187


    Jun 27, 2000
    Nazo, PA
    i hate wearing my bass high, i can play the same as low, but my arm gets more tired and it doesn't look as cool,
    i play super low, and i jump around alot when i play,
    its more fun :)
  13. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    To BassGuy, when you practice, do you practice sitting down? Why I ask is that your entire orientation to the bass would be different while seated than when you stand up with your bass slung low (like Duff McKagan.) Have you ever noticed that when you practice seated, then stand up, it is harder or different, at least, to play the exact same thing?

    One thing I've noticed is that many rock and punk bass players who play with low-slung basses, often come forward on the stage and put their foot on a monitor. That helps support the bass more like in a seated position. That looks cool, too, but gives them a better control over their playing.

    Jason OLdsted
  14. I wear my bass quite low- sort of Steve Harris low, and usually practise while standing- I actually find it uncomfortable playing it in the "conventional" high position, as I've got long arms- my right hand gets tired quickly on rock basslines/16th note lines.

    wearing it low makes it harder on my left hand, but I seem to cope okay (at gigs I usually don't use the E string past the 7th fret, and don't often play past the octave on the higher strings).
    if I was a jazz player I'd wear it higher:)

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