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P-Bass: Why is thumb rest below strings?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by johnvic, May 12, 2011.

  1. johnvic


    Mar 15, 2011
    I know it's just this way on P-basses, but I own a P-bass so I care mostly about that. To me it seems that the thumb rest would be useful if I could use my thumb to stabilize my hand while plucking with my fingers.

    So why is it below the strings?
  2. When it's down there, it's a finger rest, not a thumb rest. The thought behind it was that electric bassists would play with the thumb, not the fingers. And some do.
  3. Rezdog

    Rezdog Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    T.Rez, Canada
    Greeting from the North,

    For your fingers to hold on to while plucking with your thumb.

    nateh415 likes this.
  4. tdub0199


    Mar 4, 2010
    Atlanta, Ga.
    It used to be referred to as a "tug bar" way back in the day, they thought most bass players back then would primarily use their thumb to play and the "Tug Bar" gave you a place to hold on to while playing with your thumb..... at least thats the way I understand it to be.... lol
    Gaolee and MonetBass like this.
  5. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    +1 - Years ago when people started discovering the "electric bass guitar" the finger rest was put on for players to use their thumb to play and not the more popular finger method of today..
    TolerancEJ likes this.
  6. bassbrizzle


    Apr 18, 2011
    Is there an echo in here?
  7. johnvic


    Mar 15, 2011
    Thank you to all for the quick replies!
  8. Jeff K

    Jeff K Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2005
    Memphis, TN
    This is correct. After they moved it to the top, it went from being called a "tug bar" to a "thumb rest".
  9. This. Look up old Beach Boys vids to see Brian Wilson using it thusly.
    nateh415, gebass6 and Lownote38 like this.
  10. iamthebassman


    Feb 24, 2004
    Endorsing Artist: Phantom Guitars, Eastwood Guitars
    Oh man, it's Friday, I thought the week was gonna end without someone asking this question. That was close!
    NicJimBass likes this.
  11. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    You just reminded me that I need to get a thumb rest for the bass I built. I took the old one off my old bass. You can't exactly switch them back and forth like a strap.
  12. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I would be very interested to know who the very first electric bassist was to adopt the (now standard) "overhand" two-finger technique vs. plucking with the thumb.

    We know of course that James Jamerson used it with formidable skill (albeit index finger only), but I would be very surprised if he were the first.
  13. Twocan

    Twocan Living the Dream

    Oct 5, 2009
    The overhand technique is the same that is used on an upright. I'm sure it was immediate for many bassists.
    Garret Graves likes this.
  14. cchorney

    cchorney Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2010
    Meriden, CT
  15. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    Correction - finger rest also used on Jazz basses and most other 60s basses, particularly the very popular Japan copies and others.

    + 1 to this topic being covered over and over. The search function is your friend. :cool:
  16. Maybe you bought a lefty! :D
    Son of Wobble likes this.
  17. nocontrols


    Apr 2, 2011
    That's so you can play it hanging upside down. You know, if you like to play bass hanging upside down.
  18. ric stave

    ric stave

    May 6, 2006
    Buffalo, NY
    Basses I've bought that had them on EITHER side, they were the 1st thing I removed.
  19. Rune Bivrin

    Rune Bivrin Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2006
    Huddinge, Sweden
    You've gotta love the amazing stage antics of that group:p
  20. Charley Umbria

    Charley Umbria I'm Really a Drummer Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    Rock City, TN
    I wish Brian Wilson still played bass live. :bawl:

    You probably can't tell, but that's him in my avatar...

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