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Thumb, Alternating, Conventions???

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by backer_bassist, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. I recently had a lesson with a bass tutor and was told that my whole right hand technique was "wrong". My previous teacher lectures jazz bass at my uni and is very accomplished.. now he told me my technique was fine..
    what do i do??

    my right hand technique is as follows: (Jazz bass)
    my thumb rests on the bridge pickup when using the e and sometimes a string... my thumb slightly moves down to rest on top of the e string and against the pickup whilst using the d and g strings....

    I was told that the "correct way" is floating thumb...

    also... I dont STRICTLY alternate between my index and middle finger...this is only on strange or syncopated rhythms... straight 8ths quarters whatever im alternating...

    was told i should ALWAYS be alternating...

  2. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    So long as you can cope, and it does all you want it to do and acheive..it is correct what you are doing.

    This may upset some people but there is only a recognized way to use your hands, its not a "proper" or "standard" or "correct" way but a recognised way and that is the bench mark to start from. If this "bench mark needs to be moved to accomodate a person, it should be moved.

    So what should be accomodated in this move is the biq question, and the reason for so many different techniques, of which i am one. They range from type of instrument to type of music, the type of work or stress you put your body under in a normal day to day routine, the physical condition of you body and age, does it hurt to play in a particular way, does it hurt to hold the instrument in a particular way, previous injury or illness that has affected the way your muscles now work, how much you intend to play the instrument, under what conditions you will play the instrument, is it standing, is it sitting?

    When you can objectively and honestly answer questions like these, you will arrive at what is right for you, not what others tell you is right.

    You have a situation now where both are telling you conflicting information on what THEY know, not what APPLIES to you and your situation. Find out more about their reasoning, if it is just because the teachers know no better and it was the way they learned, then it is not objective criticism, but personal experience. If you can do everything you want and can answer the questions like the ones i suggested and more you will arrive at whats best for you.
    Like i said i am different because of my situation and parameters that have gave me the technique i have today, i am a pro, it has never been a problem to me...so far, follow the link to check it out...

  3. Asher S

    Asher S

    Jan 31, 2008
    Have you seen this sticky?


    Please see my entry (currently the very last one on p.6).

    Basically, I played with the same right hand technique as you for almost 30 years. I just learned the floating thumb and immediately it's made a world of difference: my right hand no longer hurts (a problem since switching to 5-string), my playing is cleaner due to the muting effect, and especially for jazz playing, my attack is much cleaner and lighter- I've been able to lower my strings significantly without getting that annoying buzz.

    As far as when to alternate index and middle fingers, I've never thought about it. Just use what comes naturally. That should just be instinctive: There's so much else to think about.
  4. HogieWan


    Feb 4, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    I do what you do when moving around the strings a lot, but I will use the floating thumb when I'm going to stick around one string for a while (more than 1 or 2 notes). I have a 5er, so I use the B and A strings as my thumb rest most of the time.

    I know people try to make their index and middle fingers sound the same so they can alternate, but I like that they sound slightly different and I use it accordingly. So that means that sometimes, I play one finger and sometimes I alternate, most of the time, it's a mix
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I play like you and it has served me well for over 22 years. HOWEVER...Fergie Fulton makes a great point. Ask your teacher WHY. If he gives you really good reasons, then maybe you should look into it. Give it an honest try. You may not be able to change to his way of doing things. But you MAY pick up something that will make you a better player. Good luck!

    P.S. If he gives you really good reasons for this way of playing, swing back by and let us know. Maybe some of us old dogs could use a new trick.
  6. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    +1 LOL:)
  7. tegnoto89


    Dec 24, 2008
    I'm going to keep an eye on this thread... I'm using the moveable anchor, but I have a terrible habit of approaching everything as a purist, and I want to know (just out of curiosity) which is considered more "right" by most teachers.
  8. Technically there is no "right" way, since there's really no defined technique for electric bass yet.

    But I would agree that floating thumb is more effective than anchoring on the pickup.
  9. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    As said there is no right way or wrong way, but there is a right time and a wrong time to do it. I use both methods..but its a sub-conscience thing.
    If i am moving say up and down to a drum riser, or jumping off a stage as such, like to move through an audiance, then its anchored for me, but that may be of the body, the neck, the bridge, the pick-up etc. its what holds me solid till i complete what i need to do.
    Trying some of the above with a floating thumb may run the risk of my fingers getting knocked or jollted off or away from the strings.

    As i said if its painless and it does all you want then its for you.
    Bass players are good/great because of the way they think, thats what allows them to play and create what they do...not the technique, but the the way they apply what the have learned.

    Like i said i'm a pro so why pick me for a project when we all have the same high standard of playing and techniques, from all my friends and contemparies out there?

    1/Because of the way i will interprete what is put in front of me or what i am asked to play or write lines to.
    2/ Attitude
    3/ Availability
    As you see technique is a given once you reach a certain level and does not really come in to it. Its your brain and how you think that will define you as a bass player not floating or anchored thumb techniques, or any techniques for that matter.
  10. i've never really had to think about my right hand... and as long it didnt look comepletely different to what the pros do (and ive noticed some pros use anchored thumb) i thought i was alright. Just a fews years ago going through the con i had my technique picked at and i worked really hard to correct it. And now starting it all up again, ive been told that what ive been doing is not correct.
    what annoys me is what i've been doing hasnt made the music sound any different, and im not ****ing anything up because of it... his argument to me seems purely based on convention...

    I have a lesson today with him and i will ask him why (for you fergie) and post it here ;)
  11. ahhh the thumb debate, i use a mixture of both floating and anchored and i use between 1 and 3 fingers i dont stick to one technique, and niether should anyone, if one works for you then fine, but shun others for useing diffrent technique

    thats just my view.
  12. had my lesson today

    so apparently his reasoning was behind anchoring the thumb at the body - not the pickup (sorry got it confused with floating thumb... im silly) was for the muting effect it has on the e, and the way it reduces movement making you, with practice, more agile.... this technique derived from Jaco.
    this thumb position still hurts my wrist though...as my wrist is in its full arc, and i have to curve it as far as it will go to make my thumb sit sturdily at around 90 degrees to the bass... it hurts, and id rather not do it though he thinks the pain is because im not used to it... i dont know

    there it is anyway...

    cheers and thanks for ze comments!
  13. If it hurts than don't do it, whether your teacher tells you to or not. If you feel any pain from a technique than it's bad.
  14. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Sorry i don't buy it. muting is a technique that any style can learn to deal with.
    As for citing Jaco, again i don't buy it, because that worked for Jacos physical characteristics does not mean it will work for you.
    Having your wrist at such an angle is bad for your hands and is a weak postion for the hand in the human body.
    He thinks "the pain is",.... does that mean for example if you play a C on the A string, he thinks your playing a C or he knows your playing a C?
    As far as i'm concerned he has not answered the question to my satisfaction, so take from it what you will. If it was me and i have no problems with the way i have always played, i would stick to that....unless anyone else knows different LOL ?
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I'm not feeling this teacher. Not once did anything Dave LaRue taught me cause pain, and he worked me like a dog. Anyone who says you're just not used to the pain and you have to play through it is someone I drop as a teacher.

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