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thumb position question

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by markshima, Apr 27, 2006.

  1. markshima


    Mar 3, 2006
    Boston, MA
    Does anyone have suggestions for how to finger (w/ the thumb) two consecutive notes, in the same position, across two strings? For example, from E to A, G to C, etc. (or vice versa).

    My teacher suggested I find ways to finger passages that avoid it altogether. That's proven to be good advice as it has helped me find multiple ways of playing the same passage. However, there are still some melodies where it seems like it would be more economical to use the thumb across two strings instead of refingering and adding shifts--I just haven't found an elegant way to execute it yet. Any thoughts?

  2. Andy Allen

    Andy Allen "Working Bassist"

    Aug 31, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I have been working through Michael Moore's thumb position method, and in his exercises he just has the thumb move from string to string (G to D, for instance at the octave harmonic position), as he does with the other fingers if that is necessary. I found it awkward at first, but have gotten used to it now and it desn't seem such a big deal.

  3. This is not as hard as it sounds. You have to rotate your wrist around a little, then hold down two notes with two fingers. Just make sure they're exactly across from each other so as to make a perfect fourth.

    For example, the A on the G string with the E on the D string would have first finger on E and the second on A. Also possible is putting second on E and third on A.

    The reason you do this instead of using one finger and moving it is because it takes time to do that. There is also some limited repertoire that actually requires these fourths be double stopped.
  4. Kam


    Feb 12, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    As Paul said, mind your angles and make sure they're in tune. On top of that, whenever I do any kind of double stop in thumb position, I make sure i'm not leaning too far forward (trying to hear better?), because that can result in loss of weight on the left arm which causes you to "muscle" down the strings. What results is pain after awhile.
  5. BGreaney

    BGreaney Guest

    Mar 7, 2005
    I don't think it's really that bad...it depends on the context of the notes. If they're quick notes that you probably wouldn't vibrate what I do is set the lower string a little closer to the nail than I normally would so the higher string will be farther from the nail. Think of it like placing your thumb callous between the two strings rather than on them. Then a simple shift of weight should do the trick. Granted this was really uncomfortable at first and takes some practice, but so is everything else that I was trying for the first time...

    Are we talking about double stops or 2 separate notes here, cuz if it's double stops disregard this whole thing....
  6. jazzbassnerd


    Aug 26, 2002
    He said to consecutive notes. I think he's meaning separate.

    If this is the case, just "hop" whatever finger your on. The hard part would be making that sound connected, but that's what you'd have to do.

    Really, if you can do those shifts on one string I think it would be best, but I tend to be a more "vertical" player on passages that I think you're talking about.

    Hope this helped.

    oh, PS. If they're double stops I agree with the above.
  7. It shouldn't matter if they're double stops or not. Two consecutive notes at a moderate to fast tempo should be fingered as double stops anyway to save the time it would take to play the next note. When playing notes across strings, especially at fast tempos, it helps greatly to have the next note already set up. As for how to do this, I agree with PaulCannon; find some way to shift back and use your 1st and 2nd (or 2nd and 3rd) fingers parallel across the strings to get the notes.
  8. markshima


    Mar 3, 2006
    Boston, MA
    Thanks for the tips everyone.
  9. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    I would track down a copy of Franco Petracchi's "simplified higher positions.

  10. MarkShima specifically said two consecutive notes with the thumb across two strings. Meaning octave G to octave D for example, or A to E.

    My teacher, taught me right from the start of thumb position work, to get used to using the thumb across two strings. It is not really hard, though it takes getting used to. The advantage to doing it early, is that you don't have any firmly ingrained habits to fight. Everything feels uncomfortable, so it doesn't matter.
  11. Karl


    Sep 9, 2005
    Berlin, Germany
    Yep, using the "big thumb" is the most professional solution as it demands least action. Just make sure your nails are well-cut so you don't push them into your flesh (which causes pain that would even scare a bassplayer).
    For double stops this is not practical (unless you have huge hands and a huge thumb), for playing 4ths it showed that using fingers 3 (on the lower string) and 4 (on the higher) is the most practical solution - it is easier to get the angle right for intonation with those two, plus you can still put thumb and 1st finger somewhere else to prepare for the next notes or for chords. Using finger 1 and 2 should also work fine, but only makes sense in certain contexts as it forces you to bend your wrist pretty much.
  12. Three33


    Jun 20, 2006
    Charleston, SC
    agreed, thinking of it any other way could sacrifice the continuity of a passage
  13. Jake


    Dec 11, 1999
    2 on the bottom note and 3 on the top works very well for the P4 in thumb position.
  14. Andy Allen

    Andy Allen "Working Bassist"

    Aug 31, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    There's an article that deals with this in the latest Double Bassist magazine.

  15. Anon2962


    Aug 4, 2004
    good question. talkbass rocks.

    my 2c: use a mirror to check just how paralel you are if you are opting to use seperate fingers on seperate strings; you're at perhaps the worst viewing position when playing the bass to see this. I would recommend using seperate fingers instead of trying to thumb-stop 2 strings at the same time- only excpetion being 'paralel' harmonics in certain situations> Oh, and of course, USE YOUR EARS to check intonation. :bassist:

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