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Thumb anchoring

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by MurdocRocks, Jul 24, 2005.

  1. MurdocRocks


    Jun 18, 2005
    Torrance, CA
    I took my first bass lesson last thursday, and my teacher taught me to anchor my thumb on the pickups, but the pickups go in and come out like theyre on a spring. Are they supposed to do this? And if they are, why do they do this?

    Also, if any of this doesn't make sense, it's cause I'm on vicodin right now.
  2. angrydad


    Jul 31, 2004
    Some manufacturers use foam, some use springs, so that you can adjust the height of the pickups. you might want to place some foam under the pickup so that it doesn't move as easily.
    P.S : why are you on Vicadin?...I hope it's medicinal...my buddy just lost a 20 year old son to a "casual self medicating" mishap. Good luck.
  3. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    If you're going to anchor your thumb on the pickup, put it on the side of the pickup; it won't go up and down that way. Nearly all basses have adjustable height pickups that can be depressed to some degree.
  4. MurdocRocks


    Jun 18, 2005
    Torrance, CA
    I guess I'll probably just not put so much pressure on my thumb. Am I right in assuming the height changes the sounds?

    Oh, and I'm on vicodin cause I fell about 12 feet onto the back of my head in an unfortunate polevaulting accident. Nah, I think I'm alright, considering I have a minor fracture in my upper back.
  5. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    I have to echo this...you shouldn't be putting pressure on the pickup towards the body, rather from the side of the pickup, across the body.
  6. nasaldischarges


    Jun 11, 2005
    maybe to get a different opinion in here.....at my 2nd or 3rd lesson i ever took my teacher noticed that i anchored my thumb on the pickup and told me that i should play with my hand at either the bridge or the neck for fingerstyle. so now i anchor my thumb at the neck for fingerstyle. ive also seen guys just rest their wrist at the body of the bass and play without the thumb anchored.
  7. jow83


    Jun 3, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    My old teacher (back in the day) told me not to rest your wrist on he edge of the bass as you effectively cut off the connection between your fingers and your forarm muscles, making the smaller muscles in your hand do all the work. But if it works for you it works for you i guess.

    In regards to pick-ups i have always played with my thumb on the top of the pick up and never had a problem, I normally rest it on the front corner, on the screw hole, is there anything wrong with this? I have never had a complaint from my bass (ie moving etc) but have recently seen a P pickup pushed right inside the body of a bass guitar.
  8. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I'm glad that I STOPPED anchoring my thumb! Now I practice 'thumb trailing', where I always rest my thumb on the strings that are physically above the one I'm playing. This makes for real clean playing. (I shouldn't say 'always'; there are some trickier things where I anchor my thumb on top of the pickup, like I used to, but I very-most-often thumb-mute.)

    That Vic' will likely wreck your playing more than thumb position though.

  9. Meh, you're right in that trailing the thumb cleans up your sound, but you don't have to do that to get a clean sound. I think you guys all hit the nail on the head in these posts. In all of my time as a player, I have learned to realize that not only is there no standarized way of anchoring the thumb, but that there is no best way either. Many great bass players have a lot in common, but every one of their methods of thumb anchoring can be completely unique. I was taught to play by anchoring my thumb on the pick-up, and it's worked for me ever since, but now I'm finding myself playing over the neck because it makes it easier to switch between slap and fingerstyle quickly. Teachers that play near the bridge tell you to play near the bridge because the crispness and feel of that area feel best to them. I have not a clue as to why some teachers (or players) anchor their thumb on the low string, though. To me at least, that is just a stupid excuse to not anchor on the side of the pick-up, but I guess its good if there is no pick-up close to where you want to anchor.

    Overall, I think you would find it easiest to anchor on the pick up, at least for now--which doesn't mean that it won't remain the easiest at master levels of playing.
  10. Anchoring on the lowest string mutes it which can be handy, especially if you have a B.

    I just don't get anchoring. To me it seems like walking using both feet and hands so you'll be more stable. Maybe you are, but you have to stretch to do it, and then you can't use your hands. And if you do use them then you have to stand up to do it. Anchoring the thumb is about the same. I can walk just fine on two feet.

    EDIT: I realize that I'm jumping into a discussion about places to anchor with a statement against it, but it just seems weird to me when people discuss anchoring like it's the obvious way to play.
  11. That's exactly what I'm talking about. While there is an almost absolute right in most things regarding musicianship, thumb anchoring is one of those things that relies 100% on opinion and personal playing style.
  12. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Ouch, pole vault? I've gotten close - cept I've never attempted over 10 feet. Never wanted stuff like that to happen, and I'm quite prone to it...
  13. Buck Naked

    Buck Naked

    Jul 24, 2005
    Austin Texas
    yea dude thats what i did and it has improved the smoothness of my playing
  14. bonscottvocals


    Feb 10, 2005
    Upstate NY
    If thumb anchoring is your thing, then you could get a thumb anchor and add it to your bass. It's just two screws and you've got something other than your pickup to anchor. I find that my thumb floats more if I'm playing a song that requires me to move up and down the strings, but I tend to anchor if I'm playing a lot of notes on the bottom string.

    As Daniel said, there's no right or wrong way, but experiment with suggestions and see which works best for you as an individual.
  15. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    It seems to me that a lot of players (probably especially ones who started-out being taught to "anchor your thumb on the what-ever") never even consider "moving up and down the strings" like you're talking about. I just had one friend of mine who played bass in a working band for years (a few years) tell me that he never thought about the idea that a bass sounds different when you pluck at different spots on the string! (needless to say that he FREAKED on my SIMPLEST tapped part!)