Thumb that bass, Darling!

Discussion in 'Bluegrass [DB]' started by Ed S, Jun 24, 2020.

  1. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    My wife and I were working our way through the Andy Griffith show. MAN, a lot of good music on that show (but BOY did it go downhill quickly after Don Knotts left and it went to color!) But skimming through the last couple of seasons, we ran across this episode w/ the Darlings/Dillards.

    Anyone wanna comment on what Mitch Jayne is doing on the bass? You get a good look at him a couple of times when they focus in on Andy. He's playing exclusively using his right thumb. Never recalled noticing anything unusual about this playing on earlier eps. For example, in this ep, he plays as I would expect.
  2. Holdsg

    Holdsg Father of Pugs Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Alta Loma, CA
    certainly a different way to "pluck" a string. Maybe that's how you learn to play in rural NC? maybe it was a volume thing...allowing some kinda palm muting, like when you play with your thumb on BG. And it does kinda look like at some point he's using the thumb and finger at the same time. certainly unique
    nbsipics likes this.
  3. Anne Millington

    Anne Millington

    Dec 16, 2017
    Before I got my amp/speaker set up, I used thumb exclusively to get volume at gigs. Now I can use and do prefer using fingers, but occasionally use thumb with fingers for fast passages across more than one string.

    Very cool clip, by the way. Good music in those shows! I see he is plucking towards the low side, whereas when I was using right thumb I would pluck towards the high side to really get some force on the string. I am not sure I could do what I see him doing!
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
  4. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    Blisters on the 1st and 2nd fingers?
  5. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Interesting thought. Very soft gut strings by the look of things. There's also something peculiar about the anatomy of his thumb rotation. I think most of us would have to rotate our wrists much more to get the kind of attack angle he's getting.:blackeye:
  6. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    I was also finding his left hand thumb interesting. Sort of a "convenient below the 5th fret" posture that I see with some guitarists.

    The right thumb plucking on DB is something I had never seen before in bluegrass (for 50 years) so it may have been something unique to MJ. I know DD's right hand posture on the banjo was pretty unique also, tucking the ring finger under the hand; a number of us 3rd generation banjo players took that on.

    The Dillards brought a lot of great things into bluegrass.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2020