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Where in the heck is my left thumb supposed to be!?!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by CJK84, May 29, 2005.


  1. CJK84

    CJK84

    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Regarding fretting hand thumb position, I had always assumed that I was correct - or darn close to it. But I've recently discovered that my tp might not as mechanically sound as I had thought.

    On my 4, my natural inclination is to keep my thumb toward the G side of the neck (as opposed to the E side). And I tend to keep it fairly straight, using some of the pad but also some of the tip when making contact with the neck.

    I should add that I have odd thumbs - no backward bend like most people (I do not have "hitchhiker's thumbs" - they're nearly perfectly straight).

    So where is my thumb supposed to be?

    I'm trying to force myself to make contact in the middle of the back of the neck and to use more pad, but then my thumb moves toward the nut and this all feels awkward.

    But is this the correct way and I should continue to fight thru the temporary awkward stage?

    There are probably other threads on tp, but for some reason I want answers to my specific situation.

    Pics would be great. Thanks.
     
  2. Vysous

    Vysous

    Mar 29, 2005
    I dont bother with my left thumb. I just play and dont look on it...
    It's better, I know it can be negative for my speed, but I just leave my thumb where he is... Look to some famous guitarist/bassist, for example Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan - did they have thumb in the middle of neck? No/// Were they slow? No/// You shouldn't worry about your thumb, just play.....
     
  3. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    I don't agree with the previous post, I played for some years with my thumb somewhere on the neck (not the middle), I noticed that my little finger kept disappearing behind the neck, and I couldn't pull of some fast licks. I changed my technique to playing with my thumb in the middle of the neck and "under" my middlefinger. Sincethen, my playing has improved a lot. It felt awkward in the beginning, but it really pays off! You should decide for yourself if you want to work on your left hand, but it might improve your playing big time by doing so.

    Oh, and Vycious, Hendrix, Vaughan and Page weren't exactly bassplayers :D
     
  4. CJK84

    CJK84

    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    I forgot to mention that my wrist angle (which seems a little excessive) decreases when I move my thumb to the middle of the neck and toward the nut.

    Maybe I'm too concerned with tp, but if I can make an improvement I want to give it a shot.

    I know Carol Kaye promotes a thumb-pointing-toward-the-nut approach. I'm trying this.

    I think my straight, inflexible thumbs might make tp more difficult for me than others. When I keep my thumb behind my i or m finger, I'm not using much of the thumb's pad and I get too much wrist angle I think.
     
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Vysous, Page, Hendrix and SRV were exceptionally good rock guitarists, but you are playing bass. Don't confuse the two. Also, a top jazz guy or classical guy could play much faster than those guys because they have better technique. Can you play even if you have bad technique? Sure. But if you know good technique can help you, I think it's doing yourself a disservice if you choose to ignore it.
     
  6. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    EXACTLY!

    Anyhow, middle of the neck, make it a habit now and it'll only help in the future.
     
  7. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    If you want to play like how teachers call it "proper" technique, put your thumb about 1/3 down from the neck. Make your hand form a "claw" You should be able to fit two fingers between the web of your thumb, and the neck.
     
  8. Bassist4Life

    Bassist4Life

    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
  9. CJK84

    CJK84

    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Thanks guys and hey, Bassist, I've checked out Carol's site and that's the tp I'm trying to emulate (I mentioned it earlier). It decreases my wrist angle, but feels awkward - maybe that's only temporary.

    But is Carol's thumb in the middle of the neck or a little toward the G side? Hard to tell in the pic. My tendency is to move toward the G side and move my thumb behind my fingers (rather than moving it closer to the nut ).

    G Lee - what do you mean "put your thumb about 1/3 down from the neck"? 1/3 down from the top (E side) of the neck toward the middle (but still above it)?

    Who's got a picture of Jaco from the back to check out his tp? I've seen at least one such photo but paid no attention (at the time) to his tp.

    Thanks for your help. I still struggle with some wrist/hand discomfort on long gigs and I want to remedy this if possible.
     
  10. Not too long ago I noticed that I was tilting my neck a little so I could see it when I looked down. I wasn't even looking at it much, but I kept tilting it. When I noticed it, I corrected the problem, and it's helped my comfort a lot. It's something to watch out for if you're having trouble getting comfortable with proper hand position.
     
  11. Broach_insound

    Broach_insound

    Jan 25, 2005
    New York
    dead center between your middle and ring finger, That gives you more leverage when holding down notes and enables you to stretch as far as possible
     
  12. Vysous

    Vysous

    Mar 29, 2005
    THANK YOU!! You said I am exceptionaly good rock guitarist!
    Thank you a lot! :p :p :p .... Vysous my and only my nickname :p :p :p :p :p
     
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Yep, that's exactly what I said.

    :meh:
     
  14. Bassist4Life

    Bassist4Life

    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
  15. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Is it pronouced Vie-Souse?
     
  16. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    I think a member here nailed it in a previous topic about the right technique.

    "You don't go off driving Nascar or F1 with 1 hand on the wheel, don't you?"

    To achieve your maximum performance, you'll need correct technique, otherwhise you'll crash :D (well, hit a glass wal and you'll ask yourself why you aren't progressing anymore..."
     
  17. DaemonBass

    DaemonBass

    Mar 29, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    I can't imagine trying to do a 4 fret span with my thumb hanging over the fretboard. For me it's much easier when I have my thumb hidden behind the neck. I still haven't gotten it down all the way, my teacher would notice that the tip of my thumb would poke up now and again and he would push it back down. If i'm doing a 9 chord (1, 5, 9) then my thumb goes even farther down on the neck. It's just easier that way.
     
  18. CJK84

    CJK84

    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Guys,

    Thanks for your helpful answers and for the Adam Nitti link. Like many resources, the Nitti site is something I've seen before, but didn't study intensely enough. I guess answers don't mean much if you don't have the questions in mind!

    Anyway, I'm now trying to avoid stretching, as that seems to increase tension for me. Keeping my thumb to the left of my fingers (it's not directly behind the i - it's more toward the nut) and moving my whole hand (which keeps it in a consistent position) seems to help.

    Here are Nitti's words. They better describe what I'm trying to do:

    "A ... solution to covering this distance with an uncomfortable stretch involves reaching into each successive note while maintaining the same fingering. Don't worry about holding your hand in a stretched position; instead, leave your hand in a relaxed state, and as you play your notes in order one at a time, allow your thumb and hand to slide into the next note.
     
  19. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    I have horrible left thumb position, my thumb actually faces halfway towards the headstock of the bass and halfway up. My finders also are not vertical, they are slightly angled towards me. I know that it could be a problem, but I find it to alot more comfortable.
     
  20. Vysous

    Vysous

    Mar 29, 2005
    Its pronounced as it is written, its in my native language, its something like "to Dry something" :) :) I have this nick from my first class in basic school... its, er... wait, I am 18, so It's 12 years old nickname.... sorry , a bit off topic....

    Forgot about technique, more important is always music... !! remember this :) .... and I didn't say, that my thumb is always over the neck... it depends on situation... when I play something technically difficuit, I have my thumb in right position, for example in Teen Town, its realy important here to move your hand damn-quick... and if I am playing some easy suff on two higher strings (D,G) I just place my thumb over fretboard, so I can play some hammer-ons just with my left thumb on string B :smug:
    so, dont be evil at me... I just dont fill my head with these stupid problems, I just play (I dont say, I play something good, I am playing for about two years only).....

    And One Thing > I am bassist, but Stevie Ray Vaughan got the thing!