Left Thumb position

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Crazic, Oct 25, 2002.

  1. I just read an intro to a book by Carol Kaye in which she said "remember to point your left thumb toward the nut."
    this seems wrong for me as i find that i cant move my fingers as freely when i do that, i normally have my thumb pointing up, as in the same direction as fingers.
    Is this all personal preference, or is there a "right" or "most efficient" position/technique?

  2. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I just tried this for a few seconds and it feels very awkward to me. I'd say if it feels wrong it is wrong, at least for you. I couldn't use that technique.
  3. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I keep my fretting hand thumb on the bottom part of the back of the neck; most of the time I'm playing a six string bass and this makes it easy to reach all the notes.

    As far as the actual direction it points... I use the thumb as a pivot rather than a fixed anchor, so it all depends what the rest of the hand is doing. It dances up and down the neck as a balance for the fingers, but I don't keep it fixed in any one rigid position.

  4. I have been keeping my thumb facing up like the way your were describing you know the same way as your fingers, but I think that I am going to try using my thumb as a pivot point that sounds intristing, after a little while I will let you know how it turns out.
  5. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    It is not recommended to point your thumb up... that forces your wrists to bend alot more, which will cut the circulation off your left hand, which will make it easier for Carpal or any other wrist problems..

    Like the book says, try to keep your Thumb parallel to the neck of the bass, which will keep will make wrist stay more in a straight position then bent..

    If you put your thumb up now, please try to change it.. u will pay the price later..

    Good posture!

  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I disagree. I've played with my thumb in a thumb up position for 20 years or so, with no problems. I tell students to gently pick up a coke bottle and note the position of thier thumb / fingers. That is the natural position. Pointing your thumb down the neck is unnatural and cumbersome.

    I do agree about the posture though.
  7. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    heh I actually put mine in a 45 degree angel towards the headstock with the finger kinda pointing towards up... maybe i was drunk last nite ;)

    \ \
  8. Yeah strach what I said last night about the thumb pivot point thing, I tried it and it felt so unatural, in other words I did not like it one bet. Sorry I guess that it is just not for me
  9. Benbass


    Jan 28, 2002
    My teacher teaches that your thumb should be directly behind the middle finger at all times and pointing up towards the ceiling. This is the natural position for the hand. I paint houses for a living and this is also how I was taught to hold a brush. It's also how most people hold a pencil. If you bring your thumb towards your fingers it will naturally gravitate towards the middle finger, not off to side.
  10. I would have to say that I agree with the thumb being behind the middle finger, but I believe that it can move slighty to be behind the index finger somtime, depending on comfort.
  11. I was taught from day one to plant my thumb on the back of the neck pointed in the direction of the fingers. I worked with that position for months and it never became natural for me. When I was comfortable, I found that my thumb was naturally pointed somewhat parallel to the neck, toward the nut, so I continued with that technique. For me, I believe that to have continued with the thumb pointed in the direction of the fingers would have contributed to some tendon/lingament damage. I guess we are all indeed constructed a little differently one from another. Find what works for you. I will not speak against either way.
  12. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Totally agree on that, different person's joints don't always bend in the exact same angles, and hands and fingers have different dimensions. I think it's important to find a technique that's comfortable, don't try and work against the body - in particular, if it hurts don't do it.
  13. aint that the truth
  14. JimM


    Jan 13, 2000
    Northern California
    I've pointed my thumb up and slightly away,toward the nut,for well over thirty years.I use the "heel" of my thumb as the pressure point.I'm gradually getting away from that,by the time I'm a hundred my technique ought to be about right;)

    Seriously,I don't recommend the way I do it,I've just never had anyone tell me me different until it was too late.But I've never had any pain due to the way I play.The exception to that is when I've played chords on guitar for a long time my wrist gets sore.

    Fortunately my skills as a bassist are more in demand than my guitar playing.