my right thumb

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by small, heavy be, May 9, 2005.

  1. small, heavy be

    small, heavy be

    Apr 25, 2005
    i haven't ever heard anyone talk about this, but i've been playing the same bass for 8 years (a pbass copy). anyway, it has one of those thumb rests/shelves, and so i've always played with my thumb on the shelf.
    it never seemed like a problem to me or my teachers, but eventually i hit a rough spot - when i play other people's basses (like at the studio) and when i am looking to upgrade to a newer bass, i don't feel comfortable without the shelf. i can still play ok and all, but i'm just not as confident of comfortable. so my question is: where do most bassist put their thumbs (or is there a "right" place) when they play? when i play a bass without a shelf i usually rest either on the corner of the neck (byt the highest fret) or on the top edge of the pickup.
  2. I just rest on my E string when I'm not using it. When I am using the E, I don't rest my thumb; I just let it hang there, or I play with it.
  3. small, heavy be

    small, heavy be

    Apr 25, 2005
    yeah, when i was dabbling with a 5 string i used the b as a shelf, but with active circuitry i found it made noise sometimes (admittedly more of a technique issue, i'm sure).
  4. e-money


    Apr 20, 2005
    i do the same thing as you. rest eather on the end of the neck the pickup
  5. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
    Well, it would be good to rid yourself of the thumbrest habit......

    However, if it's just too deeply stamped in your playing style, you can add one rather easily:

    Would hurt resale value of any bass you add it to, though....
  6. munificent


    Mar 15, 2005
    I have the same habit. What's the advantage to playing with a floating thumb? I feel like I have better finger control (since I'm just using my finger and not my whole arm) when my thumb anchors my hand to the bass.
  7. I agree its not a good habit, but sometimes it helps to have a fixed reference of where your hand is without looking at it. If I can touch the E with my thumb, I instinctively know how far to reach out to grab any of the other strings.
  8. munificent


    Mar 15, 2005
    Why not? If I'm going to want to untrain myself from this habit, I'd like to as soon as possible, but only if there's a valid reason for it.

    I don't see myself ever playing more than four strings, so if that's the reason, I can probably stick with what I'm doing.
  9. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
    Two advantages:

    1) The floating thumb is an extra tool that can be used for string muting; it can't help if perched on a thumb rest.


    2) As alluded to in the first post above, some (most) basses don't have thumbrests. Puts you in the position of either having to add one, or scratch those basses off your list.

    But hey, neither one of those is a deal-breaker. If you prefer it, and have a bass you like that is equipped with a thumbrest, more power to 'ya. Lots of excellent players use 'em.
  10. munificent


    Mar 15, 2005
    1. Ah, cool. I hadn't thought of that. I usually use an available plucking finger or two to mute the E and A strings, and the meat of fretting fingers to mute the D and G.

    2. Actually my current bass (A Tobias Toby Pro-4 Lefty) doesn't have a thumbrest. But it does have a nice wide pickup. :)

  11. You have more freedom that way. I like to move my thumb up and down the length of the strings for a different sound, and that would be hard to do with a normal thumb rest.

    Also, I find its better to use your whole arm as well as your fingers. Sometimes when I'm doing a lot of fast stuff my fingers get tired, so it helps if I move my arm in sync with them. Its like it gives me more leverage or something, I don't have to work them as hard.
  12. Time Divider

    Time Divider Guest

    Apr 7, 2005
    Just become a snob and refuse to play any axe other than your own. Once you do get a new one, go into seclusion until you've adapted your style.

    The best work is done by individual people working alone. :cool:
  13. I will usualy keep my thumb on my neck pickup or on the neck depending on what I'm playing, or I'll have a floating thumb if implaying slap/flamenco/classicalguitar?(thumb and fingers)/and if i go to play a quite line while playin these ill usealy rest in on the edge of the neck.
  14. I play with my thumb resting on the neck pickup. I always used to play with a floating thumb, but my teacher suggested it would be a good idea if I anchored it somewhere. I got into the habit, and now it feels weird if I don't have my thumb on the pickup. I lose some of my finger accuracy if I leave my thumb floating (I'm playing TOP's Only So Much Oil In The Ground at the moment, much harder with floating thumb IMO).

    YMMV, obviously.
  15. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    3)The 'Floating Thumb' method keeps your plucking fingers' "angles" the same. In other words, you won't have to 'stretch' in order to go between the "E" &, say, "G" strings. The 'float' keeps everything(somewhat) equal.

    I'm old skool(the thumb rest on my '64 P-bass WAS beneath the "G"-string) anchoring on a pickup or the "E"-string is pretty old hat for me. I do use the 'Floating Thumb' technique, too.

    There was this guy in-town back in the '70s that anchored his thumb on the body of his '59 P-bass...this guy had a very agressive style(he had the 1/16th note staccato Funk thing goin' on before anyone here had even heard of a Jaco); anyway, this guy's P-bass body had a prett deep dent from where he was anchoring his thumb. Whadda beast!
  16. I anchor my thumb on the E string to keep it muted. I also put my pinky on the A and my ring finger on the D to mute those strings when not in use. That way I get a really clean sound.
  17. i think i'm taking the whole "floating thumb" thing to another level. i don't want to sound full of my self but i've never seen/heard about anybody doing this... when i'm playing the G string i just touch all other 3 strings with my thumb so that damm E string doesn't start vibrating (a common problem when i'm playing loud). I'm still getting used to do it but i guess I'll stick to it. Anybody here do it this way?
  18. Vysous


    Mar 29, 2005
    I usually rest my thumb on B string, and I use my pinky and ring to mute E and A, and to anchor my hand better, because I play very aggresive style.... I can also anchor my hand on a neck-pickup or a corner of the neck if I use B string..... And I sometimes use floating thumb.... It depends on situation, anchoring your hand while playing earth-shaking eights is much more confortable then doing it in air.... and sorry my english, i am not native speaker...
  19. FenderHotRod


    Sep 1, 2004
    I'm having the same problem with my Tribute. When I playing on the g string I have my thumb on the D string and tilted up(best way I can explain it) to stop the B string from Vibrating.
    This 5 sting has been a blessing and a pain in the butt at the same time.

    Anyway if you get rid of the thumb rest you'll just have to get use to playing a differnt way. I just will take a lot of work to d-program yourself.
  20. small, heavy be

    small, heavy be

    Apr 25, 2005
    i actually went and bought a yamaha (4 string version of the one john myung uses).
    the humbuckers have a shelf which fits my thumb perfectly, so it was definitely meant to be!