Where do you guys rest your thumb?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by dave120, Nov 20, 2005.

  1. dave120


    Jun 27, 2005
    Central Florida
    Assuming that you don't playing with your thumbs like some people do...

    Anyhow, I'm curious as to whether a lot of you keep your thumbs perched on the pickups/ramp/thumbrest all the time or if you move up and down and use the string above the one you're playing on. Now as a bassist of less than 2 years, and I play in a modern hard rock band which isn't the most complicated bass style, even though I do what I can to make them sound nice. When I play fingerstyle I always tend to keep my thumb on the pickup the entire time and just reach farther. It hasn't seemed to slow me down at all but like I said,t he stuff I play in my band isn't that hard. I also use a pick 3/4 of the time anyways. But I would eventually like to progress and learn some other styles like Jazz eventually and I'm trying to train myself the best way possible rather than try and change it later.
  2. it floats... on the lower string (pitch wise) than the one I'm playing on.
  3. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    If i'm playing the E-string. It floats
    If i'm playing the A-String. It's on the E
    If i'm playing the D-string, it's on the A
    If i'm playing the G-string, It's on the D

  4. skewh


    Sep 5, 2005
    Ithaca, NY
    Either on my bridge pickup, neck pickup, neck heel or E string, depending on what kind of tone I'm looking for.
  5. Brad Maestas

    Brad Maestas Sono est omnia Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2003
    Petaluma, CA, USA
    I use all of the ways mentioned above. I have one bass with a thumbrest in between the pickups and that gives me more choices. On that bass I mostly play over the fingerboard (thumb on the FB), though. I general, I guess my thumb spends most of the time on the correspondingly lower string. Like what James and Geddy said.
  6. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    If i'm playing the B-string. It floats (rests on the bass' body)
    If i'm playing the E-String. It's on the B
    If i'm playing the A-String. It's on the E
    If i'm playing the D-string, it's on the A
    If i'm playing the G-string, It's on the A

    This is the best approach for me. When I play the G string having my thumb on the A, three things happen:

    - My index or middle fingers rest on the D string
    - My thumbtip rests on the A string
    - The back of my thumb mutes the E string

    So I'm killing three birds with one shot. Maybe I've put my thumb on the D string, but just in rare or special situations which I can't recall right now.
  7. funky.monk


    Oct 28, 2005
    Quesnel, BC
    I like to rest my thumb on the above string that iam playing, I find that it gives me a NICE clean tone. Sometimes though, I just rest it on the E string and play down, then when I play E it floats. I find though, that if i don't move it down with me, sometimes my fingers come up and hit the above strings, giving me a muffled note. WHICH I DO NOT LIKE, it sort of PISSES me off.
  8. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    BTW, I've seen that John Patitucci never moves his thumb from his six stringer's low B (or maybe the body of the instrument). I guess he uses his ring and pinky to mute the strings, but it seems an extremely awkward style of playing, specially on a six-string. Every time I see him play, I feel like itching. He gives the impression of not having control over his instrument's sympathetic ringing (of course he has, but anyway...).
  9. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Inactive

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    It always rests on the next sitting down from what I'm playing on. On the E, it floats. Otherwise, I'm slapping, popping and tapping til the cows come home.
  10. rnlytton


    May 23, 2003
    Naples, FL
    I find it easier to play using a thumb rest. I use the string below the one I'm playing to stop the motion of my fingers after plucking. I've noticed on basses without a thumb rest that my fingers "over-travel" after plucking the lowest string, while a thumb rest stops this, and I don't play with a heavy touch. This seems to make for more consistant plucking technique for me at least.

    I play six-string and notice that my thumb floats from the thumb rest to the B string. I never thought about this until I read this thread and went and watched what my thumb was doing.
  11. mgood


    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    On the neck side of the neck pickup.

    On a four-string:
    It touches the neck pickup and sits on top of the E string, muting that string when I'm not playing it.
    When a play a note or notes on the E, it slides up to the corner of the pickup. And when I get off that string for any amount of time, it slides back down to mute the E again.

    On a fiver:
    Same as above, but on the B string.
    During long periods of not playing the B string, my thumb often goes between the B and E strings, muting both, still against the neck p'up. When in that position, I can easily pull it up a bit to un-mute the E. I'm still working on getting it out of there quickly and smoothly when I need to get on the B string and back off it again.


    This one isn't my bass, but you gotta love the shirt :smug:
  12. bill_banwell


    Oct 19, 2002
    I rest my thumb on the pickup nearest to the neck, but if im trying to get a sort of jaco tone, id move it to the bridge or a clanky loose sound (bit like geezer butler) id move it onto the end of the side of the neck.
  13. Dream Works

    Dream Works

    Dec 5, 2003
    I'd say this is just about the most comfortable and relaxed thumb postition, and if you think about it, it's perfectly plausible. Say you're pointing at someone and telling them to come over. Your finger doesn't move that fast, but if you're like, saying bye to someone, crushing something in your palm or making a fist, the action of your fingers is much faster. This could vary from person to person, but in my experience, laying my thumb across the strings like that lets me play alot faster than having my thumb on the pickup and having my fingers stretched across the strings.
  14. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    I rest it on pickups. I wish I could comfortably float it or rest it on strings, but I'm already used to keeping it on the top of the pickups. I have bad technique (both left and right hand), I'm sorry.
  15. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004
    For me, I usually rest my thumb on the rear pickup, somtimes between the pickup and string on the front side (nearest the neck). For me, I find that moving up and down between the bridge and the neck, while providing different sounds, makes the strings too "floppy" for me personally. A lot of guys move their fingers to various places, and that's cool. I like having an anchor and staying there.

    Interestingly enough, on my Rick 4001, I put my thumb inside the "horseshoe" and rest it on the pickup.

    When I use a pick, I tend to be closer to the bridge.

    Here's me playing my '05 Jazz Deluxe which pretty much illustrates my thumb placement.
  16. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Mine floats between the A, E, and on top of the bridge pickup (in my case, the only pickup, MM, on both of my basses). Usually it is on the E string, it is on the pickup when i play the E stirng, and when im noodling around up high it bounces between A and E.
  17. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    My bridge pickup. I play really really really aggressive and it's the only place where I can play fast enough (the strings flop around everywhere else.)
  18. Dream Works

    Dream Works

    Dec 5, 2003
    Nooo I feel like a loner with my weird thumb resting now.
  19. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I used to have thumbrests on all my basses, but didn't put one on my newest bass. It took me a few practices to get used to it, but now I love the freedom.

    I have removed the thumbrest from my backup bass. I now rest the thumb against the pickguard. The newest bass has a 4 ply pickguard which helps.
  20. Geezerman


    Nov 28, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    Well today i started 'floating' and so far, it's given me alot more speed on some of the thing si struggled on, but its alot diffrent than anchoring on the neck p/u, i like it though :hyper: