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Tactile markers for left thumb?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Jack Clark, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. I don't mean this as something for you pros, of course, but has anybody tried putting some sort of tactile markings on the underside of the neck for beginning students?

    I'm just an amateur and I don't practice four hours a day, so drifting away from correct fingering on the neck of my fretless upright has always been an intonation problem for me. Seems to me that tactile markers for the left thumb might be more legitimate than visual marks on the side of the neck for the fingers. The idea, of course, is just to provide a more consistent base for the "claw," not to dictate where each finger should go down. The tactile thumb markers I've tried are light and do not inhibit the thumb from smoothly sliding up and down the neck.

    Anybody heard of anyone trying this sort of thing?
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    My understanding was that a couple of Red's basses had a brass "dot" placed in a couple of positions on the back of the neck, this is after he made the switch to fifths tuning. Unka PeeDub might know if that's true or spurious....
  3. Comprehensive Bass method vol. I by Hein van de Geyn (p.58):

    Red Mitchell did put some tiny copper round-headed nails in the back of the neck of his bass. Little points of reference. I thought this was in fact a great an very elegant idea.
  4. That's funny. I've been using "escutcheon pins," which are small, brass brads with round, convex heads that are about 2.5mm in diameter. Got 'em from a local hardware store. I tapped them in where I wanted my thumb for the h.P., I, II, and II/III positions. (My odd bass is about out of neck after that.)
  5. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    A lot of Suzuki cello teachers put a little sticker back there.
  6. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    By bass has marks for the positions on the back of the neck in two places, one you can feel and one you can see. I've never really noticed them while playing though.
  7. Jsn

    Jsn upright citizen

    Oct 15, 2006
    San Francisco Bay Area
    A little dot of clear nail polish will give you a nice tactile marker for your left thumb. Most people won't notice it, and it can be removed with few swipes of nail polish remover.
  8. I like the nail polish idea, or maybe a thin slice of electrical tape...I'd think twice before putting nails or brads into my bass's neck! You'll feel the tiniest bump with your thumb, there shouldn't be any need for something as large as a nail head.
  9. Maybe some grip tape for skateboards.
  10. I did try the nail polish idea, even tried building up with a series of applications, but I couldn't feel it well enough for it to be useful. I eventually tapped in the small, brass round-headed pins, which I can easily feel but my thumb will still slide over. I'm currently using one pin for the I and II/III (i.e., II-1/2) positions and three pins in a horizontal line for the h.P. and II positions. I'm liking it.
  11. Well, I've completed a few weeks now with brass pins for my thumb on the underside of the neck, and it has been good. I just finished a practice session in our dark motel room, with my wife asleep, using headphones and my thumb pins. No problem at all. Intonation was far, far better than during years of playing in the light. I've always heard recommendations to practice in the dark, but as a beginner when I tried that I never knew where I was on the neck and my ears weren't good enough to tell me yet. With the thumb pins, I know where I am and I can hear the difference. This is working out great for me.