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Old 01-16-2013, 01:13 PM   #1
fatgleeson
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Where do you anchor your thumb?

This has been a worry of mine lately. I rest it on the pickup when I'm playing the E string, but when playing any other string I rest it on the string right above it e.g. if I'm playing on the D string I'll leave my thumb on the A. Mainly I do this to mute the strings I'm not playing so I don't have to worry about hitting them accidentally.

I've been playing about 4 years now and I rarely if ever see anyone else play like this. Everyone seems to leave their thumb on a pickup all the time. I've been trying to do this lately but I can't get used to it - usually I can mute the E with my pinky or ring finger (although that feels uncomfortable and alien for me) but when I'm playing higher strings it gets much harder to play because my fingers are too stretched out. I miss notes all over the place, can't play fast etc.

I'm guessing leaving it on the pickup allows faster switching between strings because then I won't have to move my thumb up and down depending on what string I'm playing. But resting on the pickup makes me play much slower.


Where do you put the thumb? Is the way I play a 'bad' habit? And should I force myself to anchor on the pickup all the time until I get used to it, even if it makes me regress to sounding like a beginner again?
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:16 PM   #2
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i only ever rest my thumb on the pickup, b string or e string. i mute with my left hand and sometimes the ring finger on my right when i'm not using it to play with.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:21 PM   #3
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On the pickup or the lowest string of the bass. It depends on what I'm playing and I do it pretty much without thinking. One of my basses has a thumb rest and I will occasionally use that now if I'm playing said bass.

I there really is no right /wrong here--and what ever works for you, works.
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Old 01-16-2013, 03:14 PM   #4
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I don't anchor my thumb at all. I used to keep my thumb on the neck pickup for the first two years of playing and that worked fine, but since then it's started to restrict my playing a bit. I just keep the heel of my palm above the strings and float my hand accordingly over the strings I'm playing. Kinda like Steve Harris of Maiden, but I can't be bothered to check a video to confirm that

Anarkee said it best though, "there really is no right /wrong here--and what ever works for you, works."

Try not to listen to people who say there's a certain way that you must play the instrument. If it's comfortable, doesn't restrict your dexterity and doesn't cause pain then all is good!

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Old 01-16-2013, 03:46 PM   #5
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Personally, mine either rests on one of the pickups (depending on the sound I want to make - sharper for bridge pup or richer for neck), or my heel sits on the body of the bass, or when I'm sitting down it sometimes sits on the top of the bass (as in, the side of the body facing up). If my thumb sits on the neck pup, I often have my fingers back a bit toward the middle (my bass has two humbuckers, so the fingers play between these) - I find that gives me a good sound without much noise. Usually it's my playing fingers or side of palm which mutes the strings, and I take lots of care not to hit the ones I'm not playing :P
That said, I've never been taught bass so my playing style is a bit dodgy.
Agree with the others though - just play how you feel comfortable. You can try learning to have your thumb on the pickup and build up speed, or simply don't worry about it.
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Old 01-16-2013, 03:54 PM   #6
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I resy my forearm on the top side of my bass and kinda have my hand dangling over the strings. Ive always done that because it feels more comfortable to have the bass high enough when I can rest on tye top side of the bass. Just mess around and see what feels right to you and roll with it.
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:21 PM   #7
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I rest my thumb on either pickup, the string above the string I'm playing on, sometimes on the end of the neck (on some basses), sometimes I keep it floating, I've gotten comfortable with just about anything. It all depends on what I'm playing and what bass I'm playing.

There isn't a right or wrong way for thumb anchoring, bass height, etc. so long as you're watching your wrist angle and making sure you're not straining any part of your hand unnecessarily.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:19 PM   #8
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I'm playing exactly like you mate. On the pickup if i'm playing the E, the E string if i am playing the A string etc. Works fine for me.

But as said, do what feels best for you. As long as you play/practice relaxed, accurate and cleanly it should not matter that much. Of course there are exceptions, not everything is ideal technique. But what we are doing aint bad.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:42 PM   #9
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On top of the pickup, unless it's a p-bass. Then I always use a pick if there's no thumb rest.
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Old 01-16-2013, 08:10 PM   #10
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On the fingerboard, a couple inches up so my fingers are striking the strings about an inch up over the FB.
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Old 01-16-2013, 08:35 PM   #11
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Well, I'd like to say that I've seen people play like you do (Argentinian Pedro Aznar does, and he is one of our best bassists) And there's nothing wrong with it. Plus, you mute the strings so you have a good technique there.

I started playing some tunes with lots of string skipping and resting my thumb on the pickup B or E string isn't helping very much, so I'm changing my technique so that my hand floats above the strings and my thumb lays down the upper strings from the one I'm playing, muting them all. I wouldn't bother about your technique. It's good for you, and you leave no string sounding randomly, so i would keep playing like you do, unless you find it limiting.
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:24 PM   #12
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I don't, my hand floats. resting on anything is bad practice
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:58 PM   #13
fatgleeson
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Thats encouraging, thank you for responding. It really is different for everyone
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tostitos
I rest my thumb on either pickup, the string above the string I'm playing on, sometimes on the end of the neck (on some basses), sometimes I keep it floating, I've gotten comfortable with just about anything. It all depends on what I'm playing and what bass I'm playing.

There isn't a right or wrong way for thumb anchoring, bass height, etc. so long as you're watching your wrist angle and making sure you're not straining any part of your hand unnecessarily.


Yup. I'll change where I anchor depending on what I'm playing and/or what kinda tone I want; i.e. I'll rest my thumb on the end of the neck for more of a deep sound, on the neck pick up generally when I play for my general sound, on the bridge pick up for a little brighter of a sound, floating for a solo or for some ease with fast string jumping while plucking, etc.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:22 PM   #15
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I believe the technique you are using, OP, is called "floating anchor". Its prefectly fine as long as you can switch between strings fast enough. I find i use a combination of floating and just anchoring it on my thumbrest (or chrome cover depending on where im plucking the string), if the song im playing is rather fast, i will usually just leave my thumb on the thumbrest, but the song is a more reasonable speed, i will float from string to string.
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