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Right thumb positioning and other advice

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Jakemackattack, Oct 17, 2013.

  1. Jakemackattack


    Sep 21, 2013
    Hey guys, I just recently started playing bass and I love it so much. I have a Fender Squire J Bass, it may not be the best but it gets the job done. Anyway, I tend to pluck and pick (I don't pick a lot) right between the pickups, and whenever I pluck I have my right thumb on the string that is above the string I am playing. So if I am playing on the D string my thumb is resting on the A string and yeah. It is comfortable for me, it can be problematic but I work around it with lots of practice. So I was wondering if any of you guys had pointers on where I should rest my thumb if I am doing it wrong or if you have just any advice for a noob like myself. Thanks!
  2. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    It's really a matter of what works for you. I play with fingers and depending on the string I am playing, my thumb is either resting on the edge of a pickup or on one of the strings. Experiment with it and see how you feel most comfortable.
  3. Robus


    Aug 25, 2013
    Chicago Area
    I'm new to bass too. That was right at the top of my list of questions. I found that there are several styles. In one, you keep your thumb anchored on the pickup or elsewhere and use follow-through and the left hand to mute. In another, you let your thumb slide over the top of the strings as you move up and down. Another is what you do, which is to keep the anchor your thumb on the string above (or on the pickup for the E string).

    They're all awkward at first. I think I'm doing a combination of the second two, depending on the speed of the passage and how quickly I'm moving between strings. I'm pretty sure my technique isn't great, but I'm getting faster and quieter.
  4. Hamlet7768

    Hamlet7768 Here to chew gum and rock. Still have gum.

    Jun 5, 2011
    I rest my thumb either on top of the pickup or on the E or A string. I do find anchoring the thumb on something very useful for giving a consistent plucking strength.
  5. That's called "movable anchor" and it's a perfectly fine technique. Some call it "floating thumb" but I think that is more accurately when you don't anchor your thumb at all.....
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I tend to let my thumb float around, although if I'm playing something easy I'll anchor it on the top of the neck pickup or whatever else is handy.
  7. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Yes, the technique that the OP is using is a great one and is called the "movable anchor". The "floating thumb" is different in that it does not rest on anything. It does what it says on the tin....i.e. floats.

    Here it is demonstrated :

  8. Dave Curran

    Dave Curran Lilduke

    Jul 27, 2013

    I do that too, but I anchor on the E string and pluck it with my thumb when I need a note off it.
  9. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    I rest my thumb on the E and pivot from there all the time.
    of course you have to play the E at times so I float my thumb during that time.
    Some guys are comfortable floating there thumb/hand all the time.
    It's a matter of preference or whatever works for you.
    Try both.
  10. The Celestials

    The Celestials

    Jul 1, 2013
    I anchor my thumb on the very end of the fretboard and I pluck/finger the strings between the neck pickup and the fretboard. I pick decently hard and aggressively, and it achieves a deep, looser, more percussive tone.
  11. probably jumping around with the thumb from string to string is not the best way, specially when you got to play fast string skiping lines, you naturally will pivot...
  12. Bowe


    Apr 1, 2013
    It depends what you want out of the bass.
    I tend to move around based on the song/tone, sometimes I let my thumb float, but when going bright playing by the bridge I'll use the edge of the bridge pup, when playing above the pups I'll anchor on the neck pup, and when going for a darker heavier tone I'll use the end of the fingerboard. I tend not to use the strings for anchors.

    The rule is if it works for you it's right. :bassist:
  13. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Hand positions, and therefore thumb position, depend on the situation you have to function in.
    Hand positions have many ranges from low impact to high impact in respect to the strain they take.
    The 'secret' to successfull long term relatively problem free playing is understanding your own use.....not copy someone elses.

    The classic technique mistake is when a player uses a high impact use to play low impact lines. This is fingers straight, thumb bold upright behind the neck, acute wrist angle etc, because they are taught that thumb over the top, or thumb point to the headstock is wrong....check out the links to see why it is not.

    That Pesky Thumb (p. 1&2)


  14. I have to echo the question below the video. My wrist is almost straight when my thumb is on the back of the neck. Your elbow must be very tight by your side to have to curl your wrist so much?

    Also: do you play "thumbless" when standing with the bass on a strap?
  15. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    The elbow position is like a rudder on how it can influence the wrist, letting the bigger muscles in the forearm, which after all are where finger movement originates from, is easier than the smaller muscles of the wrist and hand, so having an elbow by the side is not always a bad thing....it depends on how long you have it there not so much why you have it by your side....the two are linked in use.

    Yes it has been known for me when playing not to use my thumb on the neck, it is not a conscious act, my thumb comes away because its use is so light. It was noticed in run through of this song that i do it, so i moved in to a position where it could be seen when i filmed it. I believe there are other live videos of it happening about on the web. :)

    Ghostrunner, Behind the sofa pt.5


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