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Moveable Anchor and 5-string basses

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by CaptainTuna, Aug 3, 2012.


  1. CaptainTuna

    CaptainTuna

    May 13, 2011
    Hello guys!

    I usually use the moveable anchor technique on my 4-string since I just can't handle the floating thumb on it (doesn't feel good when playing the E and having the thumb with no other string below it).
    Now, I'd like to try this technique out on a 5-string as well so that when I need to go back to a 4-string the transition won't be harsh, and I won't need 30 minutes of practicing movaeable anchor.

    QUESTION TIME: How does the moveable anchor on the 5-string work? I've tried it but I can't get it to work correctly. When my thumb sits on the A string (that is when I play on the G string) I just can't find a way to mute the B string, which vibrates when I play on some frets on the G string. Is there a way to solve this? How can I mute the B when the thumb is on the A? I have managed to mute it slightly by making the thumb almost perpendicular to the other fingers but this position feels totally unnatural and I'm afraid it might give me some health problems in the future if I stick to it.
     
  2. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Montreal
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    I try to stay away from those 2 techniques mainly because I find more weakness then strong points in there for my kind of playing which is standard with a strong attack.

    I personally use a slight moveable anchor from my thumbrest or pick-up to the low B. No more. That way my hand is always in good position with a solid foundation. This way, my attack is always strong and precise, I can move more freely and faster from string-to-string and I mute my lower strings with the thumb, ring and pinky of my right-hand.

    I think a well-placed thumbrest is one of the best kept secret in the bass world.

    A thumbrest on a bass, especially on a bass with 2 pickups, helps finding the sweet spot as far as tone,attack, and string pressure with a solid anchor.

    Good luck
     
  3. lneal

    lneal

    Apr 12, 2002
    Lee County, Alabama
    I've been using the floating thumb for about 4 months now after 35 years of anchoring my thumb. I did it just like groovemaster described his approach. Yes, I know that some of the greatest bass players to have ever lived anchor their thumb, and that's fine for them. But I've found that since I've gotten used to the floating thumb that my attack is as strong as or stronger than when I anchored my thumb. Precision and control is not a problem either, it just takes some getting used to. Furthermore, my plucking fingers and RH geometry stay constant no matter what string I'm on, making attacks more consistent and my wrist stays perfectly straight. YMMV but it is just a better approach for me. It just takes some effort to get used to. BTW I play a 5 string mostly.
     
  4. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Montreal
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    For curiosity , what made you change your plucking technique after all that time?
     
  5. lneal

    lneal

    Apr 12, 2002
    Lee County, Alabama
    Acute wrist pain and numbness from the angle of my wrist, which has required lots of chiropractic care to remedy. It had gotten to where I had trouble holding things in my right hand like a pen, screwdriver, etc. I knew that if I wanted to continue playing I would have to change the RH approach. As a caveat I found I am able to clean up my playing considerably as well as being able to play faster and more accurately by using the FT. YMMV....
     
  6. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Montreal
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    Wow, congratulations on your efforts and work to make it happen again.

    Interesting ;-)
     
  7. lneal

    lneal

    Apr 12, 2002
    Lee County, Alabama
    I think anchoring is fine if it works for you, but I think my troubles developed from holding my wrist at a near 90 degree angle. Not a good gambit in the long run. I also think the OP should try practicing the FT and getting it under his fingers well before making a decision about which to use because he may find it useful. As far as that goes, who says you couldn't switch between both techniques as situations dictated, if you were so inclined?
     
  8. I'm not remotely near a good bassist, and I doubt very much that this is "correct' technique, but I find that I lay my thumb across the top of the E and B strings, while pressing the pad of my thumb against the A string.

    Any further muting required is taken care of by either (or both) of my ring and pinky fingers.

    This appears to simply be an extension of what I was doing on my 4 string bass, and it works well for me.
     
  9. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always overcompensating Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    SoCal
    Yep. I'm sure that's what the floating anchor is all about.
     
  10. GeoffT

    GeoffT

    Aug 1, 2011
    Michigan
    Ring and pinky are probably your best bets for muting if you insist on anchoring. I'm guessing that will be uncomfortable/unnatural at first too, I would recommend just spending that time learning floating thumb. I'm with lneal, I switched after 20+ years of anchoring, I find the attack to be much better and more consistent, my hand is so much more relaxed than when it was anchored, and the muting is tough to beat. In addition to those things, it works on any bass and you don't need to rely on a pickup or thumb rest, so you can easily pluck anywhere between the bridge and neck to get a wider range of sounds. Anchoring worked just fine and if I had not learned FT, I would have no complaints but having used both methods, I would have to vote that FT is far superior. And it really doesn't take that long before it starts to become comfortable and natural.
     
  11. bassisten

    bassisten

    Sep 15, 2004
    Bergen, Norway
    Hi there!

    I've also changed from the "moveable anchor" to floating thumb during the past years. I'm a professional player, doing a lot of teaching (beginners to advanced). I mainly played 6-string basses back then, but moved back to 4-string basses a few years ago.

    The reason why I changed? Hmm, guess I was influenced by picking up the DB while studying at university. But it didn't change until years after I graduated.

    It's a strange thing, don't know why I did it, it just changed... :eek:

    Anyway, I mix different techniques (anchor, moveable anchor, floating, palm-anchor+thumb), depends on what I play. It's a luxury to be able to change from one technique to another during a gig. Very versatile indeed!
     
  12. CaptainTuna

    CaptainTuna

    May 13, 2011
    Thanks for the answers guys! I'll definitely keep on practicing the FT technique which I like, especially after lneal suggested a slight rotation on the plucking hand (in another post). I still have to understand one thing:

    When I'm sitting down and playing bass I have problems keeping the bass steady and the neck usually dives if I do not place a little bit of my forearm on the body. Do you also do that or does FT, in a way, force you to keep your forearm lifted from the body the whole time (like Todd Johnson does)?

    I'll still keep on practicing the MA technique though and I'll try adding the ring and pinky for muting as some suggested and see what I can get out of it. Tried some times ago but it felt very unnatural, guess it just needs some more practice!
     
  13. lneal

    lneal

    Apr 12, 2002
    Lee County, Alabama
    I keep my strap adjusted so that the bass is in the same position sitting or standing. That keeps the bass from diving when sitting. I stand the entire time when I'm performing and about half the time when practicing. It's just more comfortable to me to stand when playing. If you haven't already gotten Todd's book/DVD "Technique Builders", you really should. It'll help you.

    As far as MA is concerned, it seems to me that using your RH ring and pinky just requires more energy and concentration from your RH than FT does because with FT your thumb basically just lies there without your having to think about it. That's what I've discovered anyway. My opinion is: why bother? YMMV, IMO, etc.....:cool:
     
  14. lneal

    lneal

    Apr 12, 2002
    Lee County, Alabama
    The great Brian Bromberg might agree with you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9Z6cxNqA_A&feature=related
    If you watch that you'll see that he anchors when playing the B & E strings and uses FT on the higher strings. He goes through a dizzying array of techniques in just a few bars. Amazing :bassist:
     

  15. Looking at how I sit with my 5 string, I do actually use my forearm to help stop neck dive. Having said that, I pluck the strings mostly between the pickup and the neck, so it's quite easy for me, with my style.

    If I plucked closer to the bridge, it wouldn't be as easy to use my forearm to balance the bass, and I imagine I'd end up using my left hand to hold the neck up. Or try to arrange the bass differently on my lap/leg so that it's less likely to dive.

    This is something I'd never really looked at before, because my 4 string basses are all headless, and don't suffer from neck dive. I got a real shock when I bought my 5 string, and everytime I let go of it, the head/neck made a bee-line for the floor.
     
  16. Tupac

    Tupac

    May 5, 2011
    Yep, nothing wrong with the good old pickup anchor. I believe this is how Dirk Lance (Incubus) plays, and it's how Flea played his Wal 5 string. I've listened to the master tracks from when Flea played the 5 string, and there isn't a hint of ringing strings.

    Just whatever you do, don't give in to the temptation to use the hair scrunchy on the headstock.
     
  17. CaptainTuna

    CaptainTuna

    May 13, 2011
    Why not? Not that I intend to use it, just curious.
     
  18. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always overcompensating Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    SoCal
    Because the fact that guys like Victor Wooten use them is terrible.
     
  19. CaptainTuna

    CaptainTuna

    May 13, 2011
    :D If there was some sort of B-string only hair scrunchy I'd definitely use it to keep it almost always on.
     
  20. Tupac

    Tupac

    May 5, 2011
    Because it is a crutch. He only uses it during tapping. If you asked him about it, I can guarantee he would tell you not to use it unless you absolutely need it.
     

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