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Newbie Question; LH thumb position

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MarkM13, Apr 11, 2015.

  1. MarkM13


    Mar 29, 2015
    CT - USA

    Thank you to all that responded to my last thread, "
    RH technique; complete Newbe question..."

    My next question is the thumb position for the LH. I've read that it should be opposite the finger 2. However, at the same time, many folks caution against too much tension in the LH. My issue is I have smallish hands. When the thumb is in this position it causes considerable strain on the hand. If the thumb is slightly behind finger 1 it allows me to comfortably reach down the fretboard with the fingers. Videos I've been watching show the LH position as suggested (thumb opposing finger 2) but the instructors have longer fingers than I. Thoughts?

  2. Hey there,

    You'll probably get a lot of variations as answers to this question, so here's my .02...

    Generally, I keep my left thumb on the back of the neck, ever-so-slightly above the centerline, and generally opposite either of my first two fingers.

    The reason I say "generally opposite of my first two fingers" is that, depending on the phrase I'm playing at the moment, the thumb position is best left to a relative location, not a rigid one. Depending on the left hand fingers' need to stretch to the next note(s), either ahead of or behind the thumb, I very well may place the thumb in a variety of different places, to provide a sense of anchoring for where I need to go next.

    I'm always trying to think ahead to where I will need to be next, so that shifting up and down the neck happens fluidly, and in-time. If I concentrated on the exact placement of the thumb at all times, I'd probably get mentally paralyzed from that alone. :D

    All the best,

    TheCrimsonKing likes this.
  3. We with small hands must adapt. Those with big hands must also adapt. Main thing is to get your thumb on the back side of the neck and if you have to slide some, so be it.

    Sounds like you are an engineer and are most comfortable when following the established procedure. I'm not and feel........

    All the rules are guidelines. We take the rules and do the best we can, if that means we have to slide, or fudge a little - if it still sounds good - do it works for me.

    Of course we should give "The Rule" a fair chance, before we start adapting. :)
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
  4. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Let the thumb go where it naturally wants/needs to. Check out this clip :

    Here is another clip on safe L/H technique :

  5. MarkM13


    Mar 29, 2015
    CT - USA
    Thanks a bunch guys, this makes so much more sense.
    Malcolm, you are not the first one to ask if I was an engineer.
    I do dabble in audio engineering but, I'm a Jr. High band director.
    However, I've been playing drums for 35+ years and still actively gig. I know the importance of solid technique
    and not developing habits that can physically harm you.

    Thanks again,
  6. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Technique varies, there is no one "correct" way to play the bass.

    That said, when positioning my LH thumb, I generally make sure it does *not* cross over my 1st finger. Putting my LH thumb opposite my 2nd finger (as many teachers suggest) creates too much tension in the palm of my hand. The most comfortable LH position for me is to simply rest my hand naturally on a table top, palm up. I do not force my fingers/thumb down to lie flat on the table, but rather let them keep their natural curvature. Then I keep this same hand position and raise it up to the neck of the bass. My thumb is not folded over into my palm, my fingers are not unnaturally stretched/spread apart, and there is a natural curve to the whole thing.

    That is what works for me. Your mileage may vary. ;)
  7. SamJ

    SamJ Founder - Fender MIA Club

    Apr 22, 2006
    PDX / SFO / HNL
    on my fatter neck bass (the Spector) my Thumb usually sits behind and just about the middle of the neck centerline. On my thinner neck basses (the others), it's closer to the top half.. my hand is simply too big to keep the thumb centered. The best technique is the one tha tlimits you the LEAST.
  8. Pelao


    Dec 7, 2014
    My left thumb is double jointed, so actively position my thumb so that the tip and not the pad is touching the neck. Only way to prevent the joint from collapsing. As for the horizontal positioning, everything that everyone has said is gold. I would recommend purposefully anchoring the thumb and then seeing how far you can move your hand in either direction to get a feel for the movement you have available, and to pinpoint the most comfortable part.

    Generally, the most comfortable/least tense is gonna be the best way to go, as long as you listen to your body.

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