Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Thumb of the left hand

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Phil Smith, Jan 22, 2002.


  1. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I'm trying to get an idea what folks do with the thumb of their left hand i.e. is it slightly curved, straight, behind the second finger, up against the back of the neck, etc, etc, etc... The person I study with places no particular emphasis on where the thumb should be though is a stickler about the shape of the hand and the angle of the arm on the other hand I've encountered another teacher that recommends keeping the thumb curved i.e. the tip of the thumb against the neck and positioned behind the second finger. My personal experience with the latter method is that I don't get adequate force on the string with my thumb bent resulting in a buzzy sound for low notes. What are you folks doing, what have you heard, inquiring minds want to know.
     
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Unless you have hitch-hiker's thumb, which is an issue of its own, Your thumb should generally be around the first or second finger, and I see no reason at all to bend your thumb knuckle at all. Whoever told you that sounds like he's either misguided or has a bizarre physique. I have my students put their hand in the shape that it would take if they were holding a bassball (sic) and then apply that shaped hand to the bass. This will get you pretty close for a start.

    Most of the pulling down of the string should be done with your back muscles. This only works if your body-position in realtion to the bass is good. Everyone will tend to pinch with the left hand, but this is something that you should try to minimize.

    Who are you studying with? I live in Brooklyn as well and would certainly look over your general technique sometime if you'd like.
     
  3. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    It depends where on the neck and what string you are playing! So, you can't make a general rule about the thumbs position in relation to the fingers or where on the neck it needs to be.
    if you are on the E string the thumb will be shifted towards the G string when on the G string the thumb will be near the center line of the neck

    As you go to the sholder of the neck the thumb makes a transition to the side and then to the top of the finger board as thumb position is reached.

    for 1/2 position to 4th position the thumb should be in oppisition the the second or first finger. Remember not to grasp to tightly as it will slow the fingering down and well as making shifting slower and not as smooth

    Joe
     
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    You can make a generalization like that. I just did. If you're using proper body position/english, then the shape of you hand never really changes, rather the postition of the bass in relation to you does.

    Check out: http://www.bassmuse.com/TheExorcises.html for my bit on all of this.
     
  5. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    What is hitch hiker's thumb? My thumb's are double jointed (the end of my thumb bends backward quite a bit). It makes playing in thumb position odd sometimes because my thumb bends differently when 'resting' than most people's. As far as left hand position my teacher doesn't really put any emphasis on it other than it shouldn't be used to sound notes it should be loose so that big shifts can be fluid in transition.
     
  6. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I'm studying with Michael Flemming. He hasn't said anything about my thumb but has commented on various other aspects of my left hand.
     
  7. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I think it's where you play with your thumb stickup up parallel to the neck.
     
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Hitchhiker's thumbs are what Jaco had. That's where your thumbs bend backwards at the second joint (the last one before the end of your thumb). I've had students with this and it seems to cause some discomfort until they figure out how to deal with it.

    Which hand do you use to stop the string, then? Or -- should I even ask?

    There once was a man named Jock,
    who played the bass with his ****
    with stupendous erections
    he played great selections
    from Brahms, Beethoven, and Bach
     
  9. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    I reckon I have a severe case of hitch-hiker's thumb then. It does cause some discomfort, stupid thumbs.