That other use for your thumb

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Matthew Fisher, May 7, 2020.

  1. Does anybody else have a bassist they really appreciate who plucks with their thumb?

    I don't mean the guys that use their thumb to pluck as one tool in a rich toolbox of techniques, like Damian Erskine. I mean the guys for whom this is just how they play, like Armando Hernández of Los Dos Carnales. People who use the thumb plucking technique from the tug bar era, before Larry Graham and Louis Johnson repurposed that appendage.

    I think Armando also uses his fingers to pluck occasional high notes as well, using a sort of "fingerstyle guitar" technique. Edit: Actually his technique is more diverse than I initially thought. I hadn't paid much attention to his hands and saw a particular video where he favored his thumb. But anyway I'm interested if there's anybody you like who plucks with their thumb without necessarily being a "technical" player.
    Last edited: May 7, 2020
  2. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Wasn't his thumb, but the great James Jamerson was called The Hook because he played predominantly with his index finger.
  3. I like him too :)
  4. Lagado

    Lagado Inactive

    Jan 6, 2020
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  5. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Monk Montgomery and Toy Caldwell (Marshall Tucker Band) . Both had brothers who played electric guitar with the thumb also.
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  6. Clark Dark

    Clark Dark

    Mar 3, 2005
    Abraham Laboriel
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  7. ZB5


    Sep 6, 2019
    Los Angeles
    Ray Pohlman!

    Attached Files:

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  8. J_Bass


    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    Sting uses it a lot.
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  9. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Very nice
  10. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Abe uses all his fingers
    Les Fret and Clark Dark like this.
  11. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Wes learned to play with his thumb, because if he used a pick or his fingers, it bothered his wife - it was too loud. Little did she know, she was giving the world a gift of a unique guitar player.
    Clark Dark and Fialka like this.
  12. KimDealWithIt


    Sep 8, 2019
    The late Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne was playing with his thumb in everything I ever saw him do.
  13. Monk Montgomery! I've heard some of his stuff on P-bass, and come to think of it, it makes sense that given the time period he might have played that way. I wouldn't have guessed Wes played guitar that way. I love this kind of info.

    I'm familiar with the Marshall Tucker Band as well, but never paid attention to who was on bass or how he played. I'll check that out!
    Last edited: May 8, 2020
  14. Now hang on. This is a funny thought. Wes Montgomery was famous for playing octaves. How'd he do that just plucking with his thumb?

    I've watched a few videos of his TV appearances just now, and I found a few passages where it sounds like he's doing octaves, but he's not fretting notes on adjacent strings. Some guys would have hands large enough to make that stretch, but he's fretting octaves the usual way, with one string in between the strings he's fretting.

    Is he somehow muting the string in the middle? You can't pluck non-adjacent strings with your thumb without plucking the one in the middle.
  15. Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) played a Pbass with his thumb. That is how I learned to play bass in the mid 60s before I learned finger style then pick. ;)
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  16. lbbc


    Sep 25, 2007
    Seaford , DE
    I learned to play bass with my thumb in the early 70's.
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  17. Lagado

    Lagado Inactive

    Jan 6, 2020
    I looks like string crossing is much easier for him. What he's playing there would be incredibly difficult for usual technique.
  18. I might have as well in 9th grade but can't remember what technique I was taught at that time. The orchestra conductor saw that I was bored on cello and put me on bass ... but the school only had a Fender rather than a double bass. It was 1981. He was a character. A rotund old Russian-Nebraskan with a strong Russian accent.

    Edit: OMG what that Fender tube combo amp would be worth now.
    lbbc likes this.
  19. Oh sweet. I love his stuff. I actually thought he was using a pick because the Beach Boys had a pretty good attack on their bass sound, at least in some of the stuff from the tail end of their glory days.
  20. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Brian didn't play on some of their albums - the glory days in particular. Brian did conducting and arranging, studio musicians ("The Wrecking Crew") did the instrumental parts. Carole Kaye played electric bass, and she used a pick.
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