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Pickup/thumb rest?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by cap, Aug 8, 2002.

  1. cap


    Aug 8, 2001
    Hickam Hawaii
    Ok got me a bit of a question
    I rest my thumb on my pickup (p style) when I play. The problem is, my band has several songs in drop d and when I hit the top string, it comes into contact with the coil making a really nasty sound. If I lower the pups my sound goes down the toilet for some reason. My strings are already raised quite high. So the question is, go for a thumbrest or learn to "float" my thumb or rest on the neck or what?

  2. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I'm assuming by top string you mean the E string. When your plucking the E-string, do you let your finger naturally curl so your finger pulls the string sideways (perpendicular to the strings)? It sounds like you might be pushing the strings down, as if your fingers are straight and striking the strings downward like drumsticks or something.

    If that's not the case, just move your thumb up and use the neck as a thumbrest; it's cheaper than installing a thumbrest.
  3. SCH


    May 3, 2002
    San Antonio, Texas
    Here's a vote for the "floating thumb."

    When I started playing bass I anchored my thumb to the pickup, and got comfortable with that, but a few months ago I got serious about trying to learn the floating thumb, and now I'll never go back to using the pickup at a thumb rest.

    Floating has a lot of advantages:

    1) It automatically mutes unwanted string noise.
    2) It improved my right hand wrist angle, making it more comfortable to play
    3) You are not longer stuck with plucking in one position (over the pickup). My main bass is a P, and now that I'm no longer stuck playing in the middle I can move around and exploit the natural tonal differences by playing closer to the bridge (or neck).

    I'll admit that it did take a little getting used to. For a couple of weeks I felt like I was going backward in my playing. Now that I've got it down, it's all good.
  4. i have started using this and found that i can play a little faster since my hand isn't streched acros an aircraft carrier deck of string spacings.
  5. Floating is the only way to play. Well, it's the way I play at least.
  6. Zirc


    May 13, 2001
    Los Angeles
    you could play with a pick :D

    hahaha :p
  7. A different tip here..

    If you like the tone you get from that position, try putting some heavier strings on your bass, or at least just change the E for a heavier one. It will be a bit more tight and wont get to hit your pickups so easily when detuned.

    I also think it's good trying different positions.. (i mean.. right hand positions..ok? :D ) Like floatin, resting your thumb on the bridge pickup , curling your fingers alittle bit, etc..
  8. I'm not sure I understand how floating your thumb really solves for anything here. If your top string is hitting the polepieces when you play it, I'd think that playing with a lighter touch is the obvious answer (since you said lowering the pickup kills your sound). I wouldn't think that changing where you anchor (or float) would matter much in this instance since you're dealing with the top string.

    I must have completely misunderstood your problem.
  9. Matt Sanchez

    Matt Sanchez

    Jun 25, 2002
    Hafa Adai!
    [islander babble from a native born chammorro living in the states]

    Possible solutions...

    1) When playing in the alternate tuning - rest your thumb on the side of your bass' neck around the 20th fret - you could even go way up to the 9th fret and play there. Not only will you NOT get the nasty metal against metal clang off the pickups - but it looks cool on stage for hard hitting bands as well. This is something that I've done in the studio with a hot wired G&L - to keep the strings out of the strong magnet field of the instrument's pick-ups... and in hard core bands as well (sigh).

    2) When in "drop D", try tuning your G string up a whole step to D. This may be enough to off set tension from the E string being down tuned a whole step.

    Those are the two ways that I would go about fixing this type of problem. Since you are new to bass... this may also be a "chops issue". If so, you should look into dexterity and hand strength exercises. Increased hand strength will allow you to go up in gauge or string tension. This is assuming that there is a problem with your strings being slack in standard tuning as well - just enough to not touch the pick-ups until you play in "drop d".

    Bass Regards,
    Matt Sanchez
  10. Weird solution, and not very practical from my view.. do you put taht in practice, Matt?
  11. Matt Sanchez

    Matt Sanchez

    Jun 25, 2002
    That is of course, a whole step up to A and not D. This is just a suggestion based on tension in the strings, the loss of tension from the lowered E string resulting in the slack that causes the metal against metal noise. This is to pull the strings more taut. It is certainly worth a try if all else fails.

    Practical? All of the notes are still on the bass. They will be out of "shape", if you are not familiar with the notes. Perhaps, this is what you mean by practical. Here are some tips... think in octaves and you'll only have to learn the notes on E and A. The scales repeat after the 12 fret.

    Have I ever put it into practice? No. I've never needed to do this. However, I have in the past used alternate tunings depending on chord structure or... the "songs".

    The suggestions I made for Cap were what I would have told to any of my students having a similar problem with their instrument.

    Bass Regards,
    Matt Sanchez
  12. cap


    Aug 8, 2001
    Hickam Hawaii
    I retract my previous statement of saying it hits the coil everytime I play that string. I had the most problem during the chorus of the song. The Bass notes are paticularly strong so I pluck them pretty hard, and whenever I do it, I bring my Index and Middle finger down, push, and kind of coil around and pull...best way I can describe it...When it doesn't hit the coil, it gets the sound I want perfectly...and I think i'll try heavier strings.

    Matt S. - Im not sure why tuning the "g" up would help, so if you could be a little more clear on that one. While I am familiar with notes, I dont have them memorized on the fretboard, so all I really do at this point is add 12 to the fret im playing and walla! So if you could clarify what you said before that'd be great, Thanks

  13. Matt Sanchez

    Matt Sanchez

    Jun 25, 2002
    Cap, I'm not good at explaing stuff with out being able to show people in person. Please try tuning your bass as indicated below. Play the chorus to your song again and let me know if this helps any.

    D (a whole step down from E, or a double flat E string)
    A (a whole step up from G, or a double sharp G string)

    Bass Regards,
    Matt Sanchez
  14. chris griffiths

    chris griffiths

    Aug 20, 2002
    nashville tn
    Endorsing artist: Gallien Krueger
    I'd do whats comfortable for you and then just alter that enough to solve the problem.for instance if you do so many songs in drop D maybe you should set your bass up for a high string tension in Drop D or have a separate bass for that tuning . I bought a 5 string just so I wouldn' t have floppiness.

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