Thumbs aren't just for slapping

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by chris griffiths, Aug 20, 2002.

  1. chris griffiths

    chris griffiths

    Aug 20, 2002
    nashville tn
    Endorsing artist: Gallien Krueger
    Just wanted to remind everyone out there about the thumb and pluck technique. Now I know that is down upon in some circles but it really brings about the boominess of say a 5 strings low bass string and is good to try if you play latin or dub or reggae or hip hop. it's easy just mute gently with your fist way down near the bridge and use your thumb to pluck the 2 lowest strings and your 2 fingers for the rest. there is something about that round low muted note that sounds so cool. Just wanted to bring this up to see if me and anthony jackson are the only ones still doing this.
    have a fat one
  2. hayngman


    Aug 20, 2002
    Wise County, TX
    I used to do something similar to that when I first started playing but never realized it was an actual style. I forgot all about it over time. Haven't done it in years but I think I'll give it a try. I like doing things differently.
  3. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    yeah, and remember to liberate the thumb, first one must lose the thumb planting - floating plucking hand technique is good kung fu. :D ;)

    another thing to work on is developing the attack of thumb plucking and making it as indistinguishable as possible from the finger plucks. it's good to be able to pluck with any finger and make sure that the sound is the same.

    on my 7's and 8's i use a lot of classical guitar-style finger plucking - thumb, index, middle, ring. the transition to slapping from this technique is very easy, as is arpeggiating 5 and 6 string chord patterns. it can be tricky to develop the classical style plucking, but once it's developed it facilitates a lot of different styles of potential bass lines that would be very difficult, if not impossible, just using the index and middle.

    so, yeah, use da thumb! :D
  4. chris griffiths

    chris griffiths

    Aug 20, 2002
    nashville tn
    Endorsing artist: Gallien Krueger
    yeah another good trick I seem to be able to incorporate especially in old sly and the family stone songs songs is strumming with the nail side of the thumb getting a nice up and down but not slapping. It's nice to hear so many approaches to it. Keep the feedback coming
  5. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Thick muted low notes with the thumb and some high double stops with index and middle finger - yeah baby! :)
  6. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Also, thumbs can be used for pulling the root note of a chord, strumming up the strings, and picking the lower strings on the up and down stroke while using the fingers to play a double stop or whaddeva.

    Also dead handy for picking things up. :)
  7. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    :D thanks. just call me turner capote :rolleyes: :D
  8. smakbass

    smakbass Smakkin basses for 25 years..

    Aug 6, 2002
    Vancouver Canada
    I use a technique similar to Johns a fair bit as well, I have a pretty good flamenco type thing going on...and love to throw that in,,,Chris Tarry who was in Bass player recently is great at this....
  9. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    I find myself using my thumb a lot for arpeggios to achieve greater speed and a more ergonomic/comfortable hand shape.

    John, when you play fingerstyle do you actually use your nails like a classical guitarist would or the fingertips? I've been doing the same technique for a few years but I've always used my fingertips as I have a horrible habit of biting my nails. Just wondering how it sounds haha.
  10. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    What are some good exersises to establish this technique? Like what notes should i play do make sure i dont get the wrong sound, and/or wrong hand position?

    Also, is it easier to start this method on a 4 or 5?

  11. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    I use floating hand kung fu to! AHHHH YEEEEE!
  12. i use thumb and finger plucking for "summertime rolls" by jane's addiction... i think that's about it. the palm muting/thumb trick is neat for a reggae sound, but it really limits what you can play.
  13. Billdog


    Feb 27, 2003
    Austin, Texas
    Pick up a classical guitar method book and learn those right hand excercises. They will be in treble clef, and designed for the eadgbe tuning, but you can modify them, or just learn to play them as is to help your reading. As for how many strings, 4 is easiest simply because there is no muting of the other strings required since you can just rest one finger on each string. However, this technique is specifically useful for 6-plus string basses, although you can use it on a four as I said. It's all to serve the music, so if you need the technique on a four string, go for it. Peace, love, and groove.
  14. I agree that the thumb plucking/muting technique is very cool and gives a unique sound, but I really don't find myself using it that much. It's almost too boomy sometimes. I'm definitely more of a left hand muting kinda guy.

    The only time I ever really use my thumb is if I'm doing a fast string crossing triplet from the A to D to G strings or the E to A to D strings. I'll pluck the bottom string with my thumb, the middle string with my index finger, and the top string with my middle finger. I only do this if I'm soloing, and since I play the bass, I don't get lots of opportunites to to do it, but it certaintly makes those fast triplets a lot easier.