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Thumb placement and ABGs

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bass555, Mar 25, 2005.

  1. bass555


    Mar 16, 2005
    This might be better for the "Technique" thread, but what has always irked me about Acoustic Bass Guitars is the lack of a place to place one's thumb.

    When I first got my Sting Ray (after being a two pickup/thumb on the bridge pickup guy), I had the same problem for about 6 months until I got comfortable with it enough

    Any of you guys have suggestions/theories?
  2. i usually rest my thumb on the end of the fingerboard of my ABG for an upright-like tone.
    I glued a small piece of wood there to increase the distance from the E string.

    when plucking closer to the bridge I rest my thumb on the E string or the surface of the top.
    I've thought of taping some kind of bar thumbrest to the top, but it would look ugly, plus it would be most needed over the soundhole.
  3. Well, the glass might be half full. This could be a chance to get away from the habit of fixing your thumb on any part of the bass.:) It's not that I'm trying to tell you how to play, but many of us have found that using a floating thumb helps a lot.

    As far as ABGs not having a thumb rest goes, well, no acoustic guitars have them, and no upright basses either, so it's kind of logical that ABGs don't.
  4. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    This is a technique issue. I had a teacher that showed me that it is not necessary to rest your thumb on a pickup. His approach was to simply place the thumb anywhere on the bass, and I find that his advice does work. It gives me the flexibility of being able to move my hand to alter my tone.
  5. NV43345


    Apr 1, 2003
    I play alot of Un-plugged sets with my ABG's. It is all about
    strap length for me. I adjust the strap until each one is in the perfect spot so my Forearm rests on the front upper edge of the body about 1/2 way between my wrist & elbow. That give me a full range of motion across all the strings when playing fingerstyle. Sometimes I play with a Pic depending on the song
    and with the strap at the perfect height my hand winds up
    directly over the strings. My left hand also gets the full range of the Fretboard with the ABG in that spot. :)
  6. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    I owned an Ibanez AEB for a while, and just like when I play up closer to the neck on an electric, I found just putting my thumb on the body was fine for me. You get used to it after a while. Actually, alot of the time I'll use the floating thumb when on the E string, and then when I go up, the E string becomes my thumbrest.
  7. mrbaloo


    May 9, 2002
    This is a technique that I also use after some years of playing both ABG's and my MM Stingray. Actually, I play like this on all types of basses and I find it very handy and relaxing.

  8. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA

    I like this technique a lot and it doesn't take much getting used to (I say this being a reformed rest-the-thumb-on-the-pickup guy). It allows you to mute the E when you aren't playing it and to pluck the strings anywhere between the nec and the bridge as opposed to being stuck in one spot (and getting just that one tone)...
  9. bass-shy


    Jan 11, 2005
    I had an idea for a thumbrest on an acoustic bass. If you were to buy a feedback reducing disc that mounts in the soundhole, you could screw a Fender style thumbrest directly into it above the low E string. They make some that have a sliding panel so you can still let sound escape from the hole, the bass's top would still resonate freely and you could affix it without any permanent alteration to your bass. Just a thought.
  10. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    I remember seeing a thumbrest a few years ago that was made out of a cork, I believe, and had a removable adhesive strip that held it to the bass. I don't know what happened to it though.
  11. I also agree that the best place for a thumbrest on an ABG would be over the soundhole, like a fingerboard extension.

    I think the easiest way to do this would be to get two appropriately sized strips of wood, and screw them together with a gap between them. Then place it in the soundhole, and slide the rest so that the edge of the soundhole fits in the gap. Finally tighten the gap just enough to hold it in place.

    True, it may affect the resonance of the top, but it won't leave permanent marks or spoil the finish.
  12. waynobass


    Feb 27, 2008
    I glued a small piece of velcro in the appropriate spot. Two pieces actually, including the top velcroed piece. It makes a nice little shelf to rest my thumb on, and doesn't involve drilling into the top.
  13. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon. Supporting Member

    +1 on both
  14. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    My thumb floats when I play my ABG. If I'm playing the A string, I rest my thumb on the E string. If I'm playing on the D and G strings, it is between the E and A strings, muting them. If I'm playing on the E string, it floats in space...

    I use the same technique on electric, as well, except that when playing the E string, I do often rest my thumb on the pickup, if it's in a convenient spot. I find it is really important to mute the E and A strings when playing on the D and G, otherwise I get a lot of unwanted overtones. Moving my thumb is the easiest solution for me.