P-Bass Thumbrest Conundrum

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by spindlebox, Nov 30, 2013.

  1. Some of this may be technique, but I find that when I play with my fingers, I get too much of a "impact" or slappy sound, that is much louder than the notes I'm actually playing.

    Of course, I can EQ some of the top end off, and this largely disappears, but so does the clarity of the notes I'm playing.

    Currently, I installed a thumbrest in the "newer traditional" place, to the area on the top (or left) of the pickups and slightly above.

    I find that when I finger pick here, the noise is louder, and when I move my hands down closer to the bridge/saddle that sound is more minimized.

    I've also noticed people mounting thumbrests just above the pickups. I find that position helps with the sound as well, and it's more comfortable to rest my hand there than higher up towards the neck - where the thumbrest is now.

    Anyway, I'm rambling now, but the most annoying thing is the "slappy" sound. I'm not really digging into the strings either, I think it's just where my fingers are hitting the area where the strings are probably at their loosest?

    Thoughts, complaints and criticisms welcomed. :spit:
  2. Lync


    Apr 13, 2004
    Technique is your best friend. I know...I used to have that issue when I was younger.

    I grew up playing cheap basses with cheaper amps in loud bands. I ripped my strings to get max volume. Went to record fist time in the studio and it sounded like crap. Clipping the pickups...string noise...and plenty enough to make it sound bad.

    So...I learned to lay back and leave room to dig in, plus I am in more control and can play faster. I use the P pickup as my thumb rest.

    Strings are tighter the closer you play to the bridge, looser towards the neck (that's why your noise changes).

    So, I would concentrate on technique...a compressor also helps, but start there since like computers, garbage in, garbage out.
  3. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Maybe put some kind of custom thumb rest that’s long enough to use wherever you want to pluck.

    I just play fivers, so my B is a nice, long thumb rest, and when I pluck it (which is quite often) I just lift my thumb a bit then put it back down.
  4. Gaolee

    Gaolee It's all about the polyester

    I generally use the edge of the pickguard as a thumb rest or really just a thumb positioner. The tugbar thing is down below the strings on my P.
  5. 9mmMike

    9mmMike Would you happen to have a cookie for me? Supporting Member

    I concur. I switched to TI's as well and learned to play with a light touch. I have let heavy-handed players use my bass before and they do struggle with getting a decent sound.
  6. jd-ns


    Sep 28, 2010
    Playing closer to the bridge is less "slappy" because the string tension for plucking is higher there.. Closer to the neck the string tension is looser and more slappy sounding because the strings are more easy to pull so you pull them more and they slap around more........ Kind of an unrefined answer but pluck the strings in both places and you will get what I mean!
  7. Gaolee

    Gaolee It's all about the polyester

    It depends on how you attack the string. Up by the neck can be a fuller sound if you don't bounce the strings off the neck. It can be a percussive sound if you do. Down by the bridge is a brighter, more electric sound, for lack of a better term. If I use a pick, that's where I use it (and the bass has the scars to prove it). To get a softer sound, I use fingers or thumb up by the neck.
  8. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Focus on pulling and releasing the strings with your fingers, not hitting them.

    Heavier strings and/or higher action might help, but you should be able to get a clean sound just by improving your right hand technique.
  9. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    The last two posts get at what I struggled with somewhere along the way. I kept hearing "clicks", especially listening to studio rough mixes, and I finally figured out it was from hitting the strings against the neck/frets. I concentrated for a while on a clean "pluck" so that even with low action there was no fret noise involved unless I wanted it. I found that a great place to focus my practice energy for a while ...long since second nature, now. FWIW, I use a "floating anchor" for my thumb ...it moves around as needed and helps with proper muting or picking as needed. Good luck!
  10. huckleberry1


    Jul 1, 2013
    Mesquite, Texas
    get yourself a compressor
  11. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    There are two technique-related causes for the clank sound:
    1) You are hitting the string downwards and it hits the fret. Solution: as mentioned earlier, pull the string sideways (parallel to the surface of the bass) rather than hitting it downwards towards the bass.
    2) After you pluck the note, your finger comes to rest on the next string, and that creates the click. That one is hard to figure out sometimes. If the low E doesn't get the click but the other strings do, that is probably the cause. Solution: be very precise with your plucking motion and stop the finger with a controlled muscle action instead of letting it just flop against the next string. OR, play with "free" stroke, where your finger doesn't hit the next string but instead passes over it.
  12. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Strictly speaking, you really ought to be able to obtain a wide variety of tones & timbres from practically any plucking or picking position - although clearly certain positions are much better for particular types of sounds. Therefore you should feel free to install your thumb rest wherever it allows you to obtain the optimum array of tones & timbres that work best for you.

    There is nothing inherent in using any particular position that automatically leads to problems, such as "slappiness" - IF you are cognizant of the musical & physical characteristics of the string(s) at that position, AND make any necessary adjustments in your technique. :eyebrow:

    If you haven't - or can't - then there's your problem.

  13. Wow, thank you all for such great responses. My internet has been down for a few days - so my apologies for such a late response.

    I have NO DOUBT my technique is in need of improvement, so I will DEFINITELY start there. I DO have a compressor, and it is a great addition to my rig - but I am a believer in a good performance rather than masking the problem.

    I ended up removing the thumbrest for now, those stock Fender ones are so darn high too, I just feel like it obstructs my work.

    One poster mentioned my fingers hitting the string next to the one I'm hitting, and I know that's what is going on. I am also digging in too much.

    User Error. It's not the bass at all. Thank you all lots.
  14. Gaolee

    Gaolee It's all about the polyester

    It really gets interesting when you move from one bass to another, one scale to another, to upright, to slapping an upright, to bass guitar, and around and around and around. My experience with all that is it makes your fingers a whole lot more sensitive to what they should be doing and it makes your playing just that much more expressive, since there are a whole lot more techniquest that translate back and forth, with different results.