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Where to anchor your thumb?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Myrriad, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. Myrriad

    Myrriad Banned

    Oct 11, 2012
    Is moving your thumb to the E string to play the D, and then to the A to play the G the proper way to do it, or is it all preference? If I'm comfortable playing all 4 strings with my thumb anchored on the pickup will this cause any sound problems/damage to me?
  2. Good question. I have been a thumb on the neck pickup guy, but developed tendonitis, this past year, from playing so much. I am now resting on the side of the bridge pickup, for fingerstyle, and picking more.
  3. Myrriad

    Myrriad Banned

    Oct 11, 2012
    I've also been looking at floating thumb, which would help a lot with my muting strings issue...maybe I'll have to try that.
  4. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Ultimately it's all preference. Listen to your body and your sound. If something feels off or you hear strings ringing, adjust your technique. If there are no problems like that, do what comes naturally.

    Personally I think the moving anchored thumb to be quite favorable.
  5. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    On a 4 string bass, I almost always anchor on the top of the neck pickup. I only move when I want to give my tone more bite or mellowness.
    On 5+ string basses, I really need my thumb to mute B and E strings, otherwise I get unwanted drone tones.

    To me the rule of thumb (hint hint) is that at any time, any string should be either muted or busy producing a note.
  6. El Tookay

    El Tookay Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2008
    I don't anchor the thumb, I anchor my forearm and let my hand "float" between the pickups. This requires some hand strength, and takes a while to feel comfortable with, but you develop more consistent attack, and find all sorts of new tonal subtleties. Downside is when I play my Thunderbird,there's no real anchor point for my arm unless the strap is higher than I like, which creates other problems.
  7. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    Its all personal preference and comfort. I put my thumb on the neck pickup but move it to the E string if I am playing on the D or G strings. I don't keep it in one place. Depends on the song and what I am playing.
  8. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Floating thumb style for me. I used to be a thumb on the pickup guy but got tired of stretching to reach strings further away. Much easier on the hands now! They don't hurt anymore!
  9. I anchor my thumb in the midle of nowhere on my bass usually, somewhere on the body above where the bridge pickup would be. It moves around depending on what bass i'm using, though i play pick a lot too.

  10. Anchoring or resting the thumb on any surface for support is a really bad idea. It inhibits the natural development of the muscles that will support and strengthen you hand. I made a similar mistake with guitar many years ago by anchoring my hand with the pinky on the pick guard. It took years to correct the mistake and develop the strength I needed to play fast.
  11. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Oh dear. Firstly, how does the position of your thumb prevent your body from building muscle? Secondly, you don't need any more strength than the average person to play very well. Thirdly, I can write a loooot of names of great bassists that seem to manage.
  12. Sethbass


    Jan 4, 2013
    The thing to be careful of in anchoring the thumb on the pick up is the tension it actually puts on the pickup and the screws that hold it in place. You MAY need to whenever you change your strings just check the fitting and make sure that it stays secure... This happened to me on my Warwick.. Plus some of your sweat that comes of your hand might also run down into the pick up slots causing rust issues? I am not sure i've actually ever seen that happen only heard it mythical stories. Lol
  13. it depends, if anchoring on the pickup works for you and if it doesn't hurt your wrist go for it. i have small hands and i am really anal about strings ringing when they shouldn't and other types of noise, so i always anchor on the string above the one i,m playing in order to mute it and keep my wrist straighter. floating thumb seems like a good technique to be familliar with but i never got around to learning how to apply it in a way that makes sense.
  14. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    I'm pretty uncommitted about it. I usually put my thumb on the neck PU or the E string. Back in the day, I used a thumb rest, but got over it. For a repetitive grind it out, thumb on the PU. For anything requiring finesse, the E string
  15. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
  16. viking power

    viking power

    Jul 5, 2012
    I'm still trying to figure out which way to go with this.

    Started out thumb on pickup but have been trying to get comfortable with the floating thumb method.

    Whatever technique I use needs to allow a fast, heavy attack capability.
  17. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Where to anchor your thumb?


    I use my thumb to hold a pick ...
  18. I usually anchor depending on the tone I want, for my treble-y sound, the bridge pickup, for warm sound on the neck, for in between, the neck pickup. Although I prefer the neck in general
  19. mizzou541


    Jan 8, 2010
    KC, MO
    I anchor my thumb on the humbucker on my fender deluxe p. Probably not a fundamentally sound technique but that's what I've learned to do. It works for that bass because the humbucker is far enough away from the bridge. On some basses I've tried I can't get a good sound anchoring on either pickup.
  20. alembicguy

    alembicguy Lone Wolf Miner of iron ore Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Don't know, I don't anchor my thumb.