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Newbie technique - anchor or floating thumb

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by futbol1097, Mar 3, 2008.

  1. futbol1097


    Nov 21, 2006
    I'm a bass newbie and wanted some advice on technique. I am mostly working on punk stuff right now - Rancid, The Clash, Green Day. I would like to get into some reggae down the road. Up to now I've been anchoring my thumb on the pickup and just using index and middle. It's going alright but I'm wondering if I should start trying the moveable thumb technique? Given my music preference for faster music w/ lots of bass notes, do you guys have recommendations?
    I feel like now is the best time to change techniques since I'm a beginner - it could be harder to change once I've done it for 10 years.

  2. Dr Illing

    Dr Illing

    Feb 4, 2008
    San Francisco
  3. futbol1097


    Nov 21, 2006
    Thanks. Are there any online resources that teach the floating thumb technique? (as opposed to the moving anchor)
  4. Dr Illing

    Dr Illing

    Feb 4, 2008
    San Francisco
    Check out the above thread that I linked. Read the whole thing, especially the stuff posted by SpinDizzy. Also, you'll find some links in that thread that will direct you to youtube videos of people explaining how to do it. Just read it.

    I have to say I played for about 2 years with anchored thumb technique, and I switched to floating thumb. I really think it's improved my playing. I think it's great that you're trying to learn correct technique to begin with. I'm sure it'll yield success for you.

    Good luck.
  5. afinalfantasy

    afinalfantasy Banned

    Jan 11, 2006
    I sometimes move my thumb around for faster parts, but it's entirely up to you how you play. There is no correct style, just some styles that may result in injury from how your hand is placed.
  6. +1...

    nobody was going tell jaco that his technique was wrong...
  7. futbol1097


    Nov 21, 2006
    Thanks. I gave the floating thumb technique a try last night. It makes sense on every string except the low E string since I can't figure out where to put my thumb. Guess I will just have to practice.
  8. HaVIC5


    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    In recent weeks I've started adopting a hybrid floating thumb technique where I anchor on the pickup when I play the E string up to the A string, then start floating it again on the D. When I'm just playing on the A string, I keep it floating, though. It's worked out well.
  9. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Plenty a bass career has been built around anchoring the thumb on the Jazz bridge or P bass pickup. Nothing wrong with that at all. The downside is that you may want to be able to graze that area between the two J pickups and won't have a place to rest the thumb when playing the "E" string (or "B" on a 5'er). You can adopt a long thumb rest a la Mark Egan or a ramp a la Willis. The hybrid approach is what works for me because the thumb rests and ramps get in my way and don't feel right. Also, I like to be able to pick up any bass and play the way I play. I tend to play in the place where I can anchor my thumb on one of the pups (mostly the neck pup on my Jazz) but the thumb moves down to the "E" string (on a 4 string) when playing the other strings and the 3rd and 4th fingers mute the lower strings when I'm playing the higher strings. To my ears, around the neck pup is where the real meat lies.
  10. Jobiebass


    Feb 25, 2008
    i dont know if this is a "technique" or not, guess I just started playing like it and I found it comfortable..

    I rest my thumb on the pickup for E, rest my thumb on E for A, A for D, D for G, when I read the "floating" technique, I just thought they ment do it like this, I could be totaly wrong and thats what it might mean, im a little confused myself. I just find it the most confortable for me and im happy with it, I find doing it helps keep the volume on each string constant.
  11. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Commercial User

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder/Owner: Wing Instruments
    Todd Johnson has a DVD that covers this in great detail. I've been using it ever since. Using a 5-string, I have to admit I anchor on the B when not playing it, but moving down, I hang the thumb over the strings to help with muting.
  12. uethanian


    Mar 11, 2007
    i started anchoring, and then went to floating thumb for about a year, and now i'm back to anchoring. it really depends on the music you play.
  13. floopy


    Mar 18, 2006
    Must admit I always thought 'floating thumb' meant that you don't 'rest' your thumb on the strings for support, you just brush the strings in order to mute them.

    That's the way I do it - on the E string my hand doesn't rest on the bass at all - maybe my technique is really 'floating hand':)
  14. Fretlessboy


    Nov 29, 2007
    St Augustine Florida
    Endorsing artist GENZ BENZ/HERCULES STANDS/XSonics
    I believe in anchoring the thumb
  15. Kennethfaria

    Kennethfaria Banned

    Mar 12, 2008
    Yeah, i too just leave it on the pickup. Feels right that way. Do what feels right, but be sure to read up, so you'll know what you shouldnt do. But if you're looking to change your technique now is definitely the best time to do it.
  16. Brim


    Nov 20, 2005
    Sarasota, FL
    How come Dennis? If you don't mind me curiously asking? :)
  17. mothmonsterman


    Feb 8, 2006
    I always did floating thumb, even though i didn't know it was called anything i didn't start anchoring my thumb on the pickup till i saw another bassist do it at a show.

    I found the anchoring my thumb on the pick up evens out my picking and gives me a more level of attack, experiment with both and use the both in different situations.

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