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Thumb position

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SuperSluggard, Jun 22, 2004.

  1. SuperSluggard


    Jan 2, 2004
    Hi. So, I've ditched the pick and finally gotten the hang of playing finger style. It's great. I rest my thumb on the big MM style pickup on my bass. I rest it there all the time, even when I'm playing on the bottom string. Doing this works for me, but is this a bad habit? I've noticed bassists usually rest their thumb on the string above the string they're plucking. Now that I think of it, that would be great for muting, but it doesn't feel right. If I were to pick up a 6 string bass and play it, would I have trouble resting my thumb on the pickup as I do now and reaching the bottom strings? Currently I use a 4 string bass and my thumb position works well. Should I make myself rest my thumb on the string above the one I'm playing even though it slows me down? :confused: I could probably get the hang of it if I tried.

    And while you're answering this question, tell me where you rest your thumb. Thanks. :D
  2. Paul A

    Paul A

    Dec 13, 1999
    Hertfordshire U.K!
    Yes it probably is...... and Yes you probably should ..... :bag:
  3. i dont rest my thumb anywhere, is that bad ?
  4. on my fender jazz bass i rest my thumb on the neck pickup (the pickup closest to the neck). i dont know what i am going to do when i get my new bass the epiphone eb-3 bass beacuse there is nothing to put your thumb on in that position, i guess i will just have to get one of those thumbrests.
  5. LarryO


    Apr 4, 2004
    do what is comfortable and allows you to skip strings more smoothly.
  6. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    I used to anchor my thumb in the same spot, but I forced myself to float. This is ESPECIALLY useful if you plan to alter the string tone by the plucking location (i.e., by the bridge or by the neck).

    For me, my plucking hand seems to flow more smoothly when not anchored. Sure, I'll rest it, but I'll vary the "resting spot, depending the strings I'm plucking, plucking location, etc. Works for me at least.
  7. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Bleh, we've all got bad habits...

    For me, if the song has B-string usage in it, I use the neck pup for a thumb rest,,, if not... I use the B-string as the rest.

    UNLESS, I'm going for some slap sound. Then, I use the actual neck as a thumb rest, & I tend to bounce the strings right on the fretboard. I do this, only using my fingers, because for some odd reason, I have trouble using my thumb for slap.
  8. funky plunky

    funky plunky

    Mar 18, 2004
    The first thing i was taught by my teacher was to rest my thumb on the pickup. it wont hinder you with 5 strings, i occasionally play five strings and its ok. just pick up your bass and see how much further past the G you can extend your fingers, and you'll see that more strings wont be a problem. i can see this technique becoming a nuiscance if you start playing 9 string basses or something, but until then this is the best available technique you can use.
  9. Eyescream


    Feb 4, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    I've always anchored my thumb on the neck pickup (and on my newest bass, Ibanez was kind enough to put smooth divots there for people's thumbs on the neck and bridge humbuckers); but currently I'm trying to break myself from that habit.

    Not because I'm not happy with it or think that it's hindering me in any way, but because that's only one method of many that are useful and acceptable to use that work just fine, and I want to explore all of them and know them for whatever bag of technique tricks I might be constructing and filling).

    Do what you're comfortable with, but I think it's a good idea to try other stuff to at least know what you're missing.
  10. I play mostly with a pick. But, when I don't, I put it on the end of my p pickup, which is hard to do. Or, on the neck.
  11. SuperSluggard


    Jan 2, 2004
    Thanks everyone. :)

    By the way, now that I've learned to play with my fingers, my bass playing ( bassing? :confused: ) has improved. Uh, well, not that you care, but anybody playing in a non-rock band should learn to play with their fingers, you can play much faster and it sounds better. Well, even if I was in a rock band (my band sometimes plays rock) I would still use my fingers.

  12. Eyescream


    Feb 4, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    I really think everybody should try to learn to play fingerstyle, even if that's not necessarily what they usually try to sound like. Not because I'm some kinda weirdo purist or anything, just because it's good to know a lot of stuff. :)
  13. `ash


    Feb 26, 2004
    On my jazz bass i have both the covers over the pickups so i rest my thumb on the neck pick up and play between the covers.

    I rest my thumb on the pickup of my Sting Precision. And on the Aria i rest it at the very front of the bridge pickup. My only gripe is the bridge pick up is a little close to the bridge and the closer i get to it, the less i like it. Ive tried playing over the neck pick up but its not comfortable on my arm and its a bit loose up there.

    The hardest part is getting used to the different string tensions when switching between basses.
  14. No way. I'm not saying that a pick is faster, but with either technique, you can play uselessly fast. Sound is a very good reason to learn it. A pick just won't sound like fingers, and sometimes you need that.
  15. erik II

    erik II

    Jul 11, 2000
    Oslo, Norway
    I rest my thumb lightly on the E-string. When I play the E-string, I don't rest it anywhere.

    I've never really given it much thought. Had to pick up the bass to check.

    Try not to think about it, and the problem will solve itself... :bassist:
  16. SuperSluggard


    Jan 2, 2004
    Yes, it is your bass! Play it however you want. :)

    What I meant to say is, I probably will never use a pick again, I like playing bass using my fingers that much! Yet, it was pretty hard for me to learn to play finger style. And I'm lazy. So.. I eventually learned it and now I can't see myself using a pick.

    But it depends on the sound your going for. Playing with my fingers gave me THE sound I was looking for when I couldn't play bass with my fingers, when I stuck with a pick. It took away the pain in my wrist I sometimes got, too. But, if you like the sound of a pick and it is more comfortable for you, stick with it! A pick does NOT make a bass sound bad. :bassist: