No thumb at all.

Rob Donovan

Member
Messages
138
I've been playing a lot of bass lately. I play with my fingers. Hours per day. In the past few days I've stopped anchoring my thumb on the P pickup without even noticing it. I started to notice that my right hand wasn't hurting like it usually did after an hour of playing and realized that I wasn't anchoring my thumb anywhere. It was just hanging in space and my anchor point had become my wrist against the beveled lower bout of the body. My right hand is so much more relaxed this way. It seems to work both sitting and standing. I'm still getting used to it, so some things are a little sloppier, but I think I like it. Anyone else play this way?
 

AdmiralB

Member
Messages
3,060
I don't always anchor a thumb. I use my thumb to play a lot of the E-string content, actually.

When I do anchor, it seems pretty schizophrenic as to just where. If I'm playing non-E strings, I often anchor it on the E. My problem with pickup anchoring is, some of my basses just don't have pickups where I would normally pluck (T-bird, for one). Sometimes I also rest the bottom edge of my palm on the E. I've never thought about it, it just kinda happens.

Every bass gig I've played in the last three years has been 'acoustic', using a Carvin AC40. Which has no place to anchor, so I took a Fender tug bar and filled it with JB Weld, then cut it roughly in half...then stuck it on the guitar top, perpendicular to the string lie, with automotive cladding tape.
 

G Man

Member
Messages
1,019
As a guitarist turned bassist, I naturally tend to the floating thumb technique. Also helps as I play a 5 string and my thumb does a great job at keeping that low b from ringing out constantly, in fact, I use it to mute the top three strings when they are not being played.
 

Rob Donovan

Member
Messages
138
As a guitarist turned bassist, I naturally tend to the floating thumb technique. Also helps as I play a 5 string and my thumb does a great job at keeping that low b from ringing out constantly, in fact, I use it to mute the top three strings when they are not being played.

Yes! I'm finding having that thumb free lets me use it for muting. Very useful. It also seems much easier to mix two finger patterns with three finger triplets seamlessly - I don't have to shift my hand position like I do when my thumb is anchored.
 

Multicellular

Member
Messages
8,315
I anchor my thumb a lot of the time, but not in the same place. My first serious bass teacher used to beat me when I didn't mute the strings I wasn't sounding. So I mainly mute/anchor with the thumb for lower strings and extra left hand fingers for the upper. e.g. anchor on the e or anchor on the a while leaning back to also anchor the e.
 

Jeff Scott

Member
Messages
1,954
I've been playing that way for a long time. Anchoring the thumb causes a lot of stress across the hand as you vary your playing/plucking.
 

cardinal

Member
Messages
5,657
I'm also mostly a guitar player and can't get comfortable anchoring my thumb. I just leave the hand floating or muting the strings, but I'm selfconcisous about it, thinking I'm not playing the thing right...
 

olejason

Member
Messages
5,085
I've seen a lot of people play that way and I don't always use an anchor. The problem most people have is playing quick staccato feels w/ no anchor... like Jaco or Iron Maiden type stuff. It can be harder to dig in and get a good feel. I'm sure people will chime in and tell me they can do it without a thumb anchor no problem, that's cool too.
 

Rob Donovan

Member
Messages
138
I've seen a lot of people play that way and I don't always use an anchor. The problem most people have is playing quick staccato feels w/ no anchor... like Jaco or Iron Maiden type stuff. It can be harder to dig in and get a good feel. I'm sure people will chime in and tell me they can do it without a thumb anchor no problem, that's cool too.

Yeah, there is truth to that. It is easier to be fast and precise with an anchor, but that may just be because I'm new to the no-anchor thing. We'll see.

P.S. Love the 1st Edition D&D lich in your avatar. :)
 

Jeff Scott

Member
Messages
1,954
Sometimes I will anchor my thumb for certain things, but it is all pretty subconscious and automatic to switch around thumb placement (it just does it on it own, it has its own brain in the tip of it). I also use my thumb to mute strings I am not playing, by laying it across the lower strings as I pluck higher ones.
 




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