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plucking w/ the thumb

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by gsummer, Feb 12, 2001.


  1. gsummer

    gsummer

    Feb 11, 2001
    Hey guys, I'm wondering about this technique which I've heard is popular with reggae players and R&B players. Where do you pluck with the thumb? by the bridge or by the neck? Where should you rest your other fingers? I appreciate any suggestions.

    galen
     
  2. SuperDuck

    SuperDuck

    Sep 26, 2000
    Wisconsin
    Check out Bassplayer.com. In the "Trenches" section, if you scroll a bit down, there's a whole article about this technique.

    I myself love it. Using the thumb in a non-slap manner was the way Leo envisioned electric bass to be played in the first place. That's why there were always finger rests on what bass players today see as the "wrong" side of the strings, that is, near the G string.

    Using your thumb in conjunction with your palm to mute the strings after the note has sounded gives you a very warm upright-like sound (although it's still not as good as the real thing). Most players use this technique close to the neck, because it emphasizes the warm sound you get from using your thumb. It's a very "old-school" sound.

    As for your other fingers, I either curl mine up in a loose fist, sometimes having my hand open with my fingertips on the G string. (Of course you'll have to move your hand when needed.) I've been thinking about installing the aforementioned finger rest in my pickguard, just to simplify things.

    Good luck, hope this helped.
     
  3. I often do the palm mute and thumb thing, it's great for latin. Also on fretless, playing ballads with your thumb around the end of the fingerboard gives you incredible growl.
     
  4. Try experimenting with different plucking points...Muting with the palm, you get a great round sound that is perfect for latin tumbaos and dub-like hip hop...I find that this technique is very useful for when you want total control over your sound-there really isn't much room for noise and ringing strings...
    A Good way to use this technique is to pluck a muted note with your thumb and then use your fingers for plucks and pops. This way, you get nice bassy low notes(as opposed to an actual thumb slap), and you are still able to play accents and lines that will cut through....
     
  5. gsummer

    gsummer

    Feb 11, 2001
    I've been experimenting with this playing style, but I can't quite get the palm mute thing down. How do you do it exactly? Should your palm be resting on the strings the whole time you are playing, or should it be off and only ocassionaly touching them to mute? I checked out that article at the BP website, and that helped a little bit, but they showed the palm resting back by the bridge which confused me. Also, do you strum the string with your thumb in a downward motion, or actually pluck it away from the body of the bass? I know this is a lot of questions, so any help would be appreciated.

    galen
     
  6. SuperDuck

    SuperDuck

    Sep 26, 2000
    Wisconsin
    Muting with your hand won't come immediately, there is a bit of practice involved. I learned by just sitting down and seeing exactly how much pressure I need to apply to allow the strings to sound the note without totally cutting off all sound. it involved a very delicate touch. Don't be surprised when you get 1 out of every 5 notes to sound good, along with 4 muffled thumps. Like everything else bass, just keep at it.

    I pluck in a downward motion, but that's just me.

    And as it said above, don't be too confused with the pictures from BP, it don't really matter where your hand goes, just where it's comfortable for YOU. You just get different sounds by plucking from different areas.
     
  7. I use my thumb to get a deeper tone than my fingers can get. I usually use the neck pick-up for my fingers to rest. But I sometimes use the edge of the fretboard to get a smoother sound at lower when the song reaches a part that needs to be lower in volume or "p." p=pianisimo, latin for quiet.