RIght hand technique as a leftie?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by LaborDaze, Apr 12, 2022.

  1. LaborDaze


    Jan 22, 2022
    MD, USA
    I've been learning bass (playing right handed) for a little while now and I like to think I've been steadily improving, but my right hand has always been something of a weak point. I feel clumsy with it, sometimes missing the string when switching quickly and I have trouble properly muting.
    My teacher has been showing me the floating thumb but I just cant get the hang of it. I normally rest my thumb on the pickup or B string and have been having a really hard time playing otherwise. Picking or slapping just feels impossible, like trying to write properly with my offhand.
    That said, I'm worried that I might just be making excuses for myself to be lazy since I know its 100% doable. Any lefties have tips for improving right hand strumming/picking or muting?
  2. Papageno


    Nov 16, 2015
    I'm a leftie playing right-handed too.

    I used to rest my thumb on a pickup too. The day I tried to play with floating thumb was a revelation. It clicked immediately for me and I did not have "work" on it. I have been playing with floating thumb ever since.

    On the other hand, the are things my leftie's right hand is completely unable to do: playing with a pick, slapping, tapping. I don't really miss those, though.
    LaborDaze and 12BitSlab like this.
  3. OldSchoolFlats


    May 29, 2021
    Are you able to get as much speed with floating thumb as when resting your thumb on the various lower strings?

    It seems like with floating thumb, you need to curl your index/middle fingers more. For me, I can't go as fast when using floating thumb. I love it for the muting (especially on a 5-string), but it seems to limit speed.
  4. Papageno


    Nov 16, 2015
    I am not a "fast" player. Lightning speed strings of 16th notes are not my thing: I am not able to pull this out, and also have no musical interest in this. So I am likely not the right person to comment on speed issue. I'd rather comment on "ease" of playing (which you may extrapolate to "speed" if you want).

    Concerning the position of plucking fingers (index, middle): they are exactly in the same position when playing with "floating thumb" or with "movable anchor" (thumb on the string below the string being plucked). (I use only rest strokes by the way, except on the E string of course). The thing that changes between "floating thumb" and "movable anchor" techniques is the position of the thumb: for "floating thumb", my thumb is perpendicular to the strings, with side of the thumb pressing lightly on the unplayed string(s), whereas for "movable anchor", my thumb is almost parallel to the strings, pointing towards the nut and with the flesh of the thumb resting on the string below the one being played (the strings further below are muted by the side of the thumb).

    This being said, "movable anchor" does not really work for me, because the extra motion needed to relocate the thumb to a different string when crossing strings makes me stumble and actually slows me down (I should mention that I did not attempt seriously to make this work, though). By contrast, with "floating thumb", my thumb glides naturally on the strings, enabling smooth transition when crossing strings. I hope this makes sense. The only case in which the thumb actually "floats" is when playing the E string, although if need to play several notes on the E string, I tend to rest the side of thumb on the top plate of the bass, which provides some stability.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2022
  5. OldSchoolFlats


    May 29, 2021
    The reason I was asking about floating-thumb is because I too feel the movable-anchor transitions more clumsy.

    Looking at videos, I see a lot of variety in how the two methods are done (I wanted to post a picture), but in my case:
    • With floating-thumb, the wrist is straighter so the thumb can rest against multiple strings: but the index/middle have to be more curled.
    • With movable anchor, the wrist is bent away from the bass body, with all the fingers coming down to the string relatively straight.
    With movable-anchor, I don't have my fingers as straight as some people I have seen with. Still, since I bend my wrist with movable-anchor (unlike floating-thumb), my fingers are not curled.

    For raw speed, I go with a pick, or increasingly, slap/double-thumb.

    For finger-style, I use rest-stroke too.
    Papageno likes this.