1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Right hand technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Sippy, Jan 3, 2006.

  1. Sippy


    Aug 1, 2005
    Hey Guys. I'm used to play with my thumb anchored on the pickup or the E string. Well my new Jazz professor is having me anchor my thumb on the string above the string i'm playing on. IE: Note is on the G string my thumb is on the D string and on the E string my thumb is on the pickup. Is this used by any of you? I'm assuming for double stops I have my thumb on the string above the string of the lowest note.
    Just wondering, it feels kinda akward.. but I get a lot more dexterity from using this technique so I guess it's a trade off until I get used to it. Thanks alot!

  2. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    That's called floating thumb. It's the best approach IME, but I only go down to the A string. I only rest my thumb on the D if I'm playing a long and fast passage on the G string exclusively. The idea is:

    - For playing the low B, I rest my thumb on the bass' body.
    - For the E, I rest it on the B.
    - For the A, I rest it on the E and touch the B string with the back side of my thumb.
    - For the D string, I rest my thumb on the A and touch the E string with the back of my thumb.
    - For the G, I keep my thumb exactly as when playing the D string. When I play the G, the fingers rest on the adjacent string, so I'm killing three birds with one shot: The index/middle mute the D string, my thumb's tip mutes the A and the back of my thumb mutes the E.

    Hope this helps.
  3. Sippy


    Aug 1, 2005
    Yea That helps a lot. I just really don't see many other people using this technique so I'm glad to see you are. Thanks alot Alvaro!
  4. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    I use it. It was a pain in the ass to get used to moving my thumb around but its great for mutting, and obviously its way eaiser to get a fast consistent chug on the G string when your thumb is on the D, rather than being on a pickup.

    Once you get used to it its great!
  5. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I use a floating thumb, and am I glad I made my self play like that! The only thing that I'm not sure about is with your instructor's instructions - did he MEAN that you should ANCHOR your thumb on the string-above? Alvaro and I (like I'm putting myself in the same catagory as him! Have you heard him, or seen any of his videos?.. he's so much better than me, it's funny!) ...Anyway - ol' Alvy and me aren't so-much 'anchoring', we're 'floating' our thumbs; kind of sliding it along... I mean, I guess my thumb ends-up sort-of anchored on the string-above, in that the tip is touching that one, and the side of the thumb is more-like resting on the others (the strings physically above it).

    It's so worth-it to me! I use TONS of gain (full-time compression, and often LOTS of it - and then overdrive or even all-out fuzz on top of that!). If I weren't using pretty-extreme muting with both hands, it'd sound noisy and sloppy!

    I like how someone else can pick up my bass, and their playing sounds all sloppy on my rig, but 'just fine' on theirs...

  6. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI

    That's another thing that I've read here before, but not lately: that when you anchor on the pup all the time, you're spreading-out and contracting your hand to play different strings - whereas with floating-thumb, your hand is always pretty-much in the same position all the time. This logically seems like an advantage to consistent playing.

    Also - getting used to floating your thumb makes it more natural to get different tones by playing on different parts of the string (although now I think I'm going to install a 'ramp' between the pickups, because now I've gotten used to often feeling my finger brush the pickup, so I tend to be chained to the pups in that way).

  7. Sippy


    Aug 1, 2005
    Yea I'm working on it now and it's coming along.. it just sucks cause I've been using one technique and he's got me going to a totally different playing.. it's effected everything I do now.. Even scales! lol
    I don't "anchor" persay.. it's not like I push down on the string.. just kinda touch it with my thumb to mute, and to lessen the reach to the other strings.
    I feel it's cumbersome when I'm playing fast with alot of string changes..but that may be just cause I've been using this technique for 25 hours lol
  8. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    yeah i wouldn't really say I anchor it. I'd just say it just "hangs out"
  9. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Stick with it-- it's well worth it. It makes your plucking hand more mobile and more relaxed, both very good things!
  10. I have a different technique for muting:
    when i play the g string, i anchor my thumb on the b string (or on the pickup, with my 4 string bass), my pinky finger mutes the e string and my ring finger mutes the a string, and my index and middle mute the d string.
    When i practiced this for the first time, it was so weird and i had difficulty to play everything, even scales, heh! but now it's fine, i play everything with this technique, without thinking about it.
    It's not an easy technique at the beginning, but after, it's very useful when i have to move quickly to other strings without a lot of movement ;)
  11. DeepCalls2Deep


    Jun 25, 2005
    East Texas
    I use the technique...

    however, it came natural to me..

    I guess I am doing something halfway right after all :)
  12. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    I have always played this way...it just developed for me, but I'm glad it did since it has natural advantages.
  13. i have always played that way, at my first ever lesson my teacher told me to do it and i did. i do double/triple stops with my index(and or) middle finger plus my thumb. so if i am doing a double stop i use my index and thumb and if i am doing a triple i use all three. works very well

  14. Sippy


    Aug 1, 2005
    I've been practicing 5 hours a day (per my instructor) and I've gotten used to this technique and LOVE IT!!! really quiets the strings down and I like to jump from close to the neck to close to the bridge for a change in tone for a note or two and this makes it much easier!
  15. Well I'm glad I taught myself that "Floating Thumb" technique. I really couldn't get used to the idea of having my thumb rest on the pickup whichever string your playing.

    However when playing higher strings I use the right side of my right palm to mute.
  16. Since posting a thread, "Playing bass: standing at the crossroads", in Misc...:-


    I am now certain that my utter frustration is centered upon my R/H (plucking) technique. This is multiplied by the needs of trying to play unlined fretless against a metronome who seems not to want to vary it's time in accordance with my needs. :eek: ;) :eek: ;)

    I am exclusively finger style, don't slap / pop, no pic, tap, etc. Unfortunately, I seem to have this mental block thing where I need to pluck with the same finger that I use to fret. Ie 1st both hands, pinky both hands.

    That means I have to pluck with all 4 fingers: it's pretty successful for me. It is based on a lesson by Cliff Suttle on Harmony Central:-


    I do not anchor my thumb because, one day, I hope to try to incorporate it into the plucking. I tend to rest my forearm on the bass body as a steadying point.

    In order to overcome my frustration and improve the technique I am trying plucking with a hand shape that closely resembles a classical guitar player. This seems to quite naturally to make all 4 fingers about the same length. :D

    What I now need is suggestions as to how to improve stamina for the plucking had (and fretting hand to some extent). I'm sure guys will suggest scales and arpegs against a 'nome, building a solid time before going for speed. Fair comment. I'm trying to do that anyway. But if there's anything else I should try...? :D