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Old 06-18-2013, 12:19 AM   #1
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Is this proper finger picking technique?

I recently picked up a bass (Ibanez GSR200), and in my time trying to learn finger picking I find my thumb gravitating towards resting on where the neck meets the body of the bass since it sticks up out of the body. This seems the stuff I've read about people resting their thumb on the pickups, am I doing it wrong? Or should I be trying to avoid anchoring my thumb at all?
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Old 06-18-2013, 12:51 AM   #2
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Anchoring is not a problem, John Entwistle and Geezer Butler both anchor/ed on the neck and they're prtty big names. Some people benefit from anchoring on the strings and moving string to string to they aren't stretching to reach the G and others just let their hand float.

It's up to you, anchoring isn't going to harm you or your playing but play around with a few styles.
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Old 06-18-2013, 12:54 AM   #3
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it depends on the tone you're going for. where you pluck between the neck and bridge (or even on the neck) can provide very different feels. i personally feel more comfortable around the neck, but it is still important to make sure you can play different ways if you ever feel you need to.

definitely experiment and play around - there's not necessarily a wrong approach as long as you're not tensing up and can play consistently/control your dynamics, so have fun with it
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Old 06-18-2013, 03:30 AM   #4
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There's absolutely nothing wrong with anchoring your thumb or playing over the end of the neck, although I suspect that the reason you may be gravitating towards that part of the bass is that the string tension is lowest around there, hence it plays more "effortlessly". If I were you, and you decide to stick with an anchored thumb technique, I'd make a conscious effort to keep practising playing over the pick-ups too (at least just the neck to start with) because with time as your hand strength increases and you get more used to playing bass, it will feel more comfortable and natural and you'll have a greater range of tones available to you simply by moving your hand. Some songs just call for you to play towards the bridge, and vice versa.
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Old 06-18-2013, 03:56 AM   #5
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Anchor your thumb wherever it best suits you. There is no one single "right" way to do it.
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Old 07-17-2013, 02:44 PM   #6
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Yeah, I sometimes find myself anchoring up by the fretboard too, although usually only when I'm going for a softer tone, and playing up there consciously. It does feel nicer to pluck the strings at that point, because of the low tension.

The anchored thumb technique is something that I have been reworking into my right hand technique. I was never taught how to "right hand mute" formally, and just sort of did it on my own through trial and error. As a result I tend to kind of "hook in" to the E and A string with my ring and pinky fingers to mute those strings as I am playing fingerstyle on the D and G. I guess you could technically classify this as a variation (an ugly one) on the ring/pinky mute style. The anchored thumb or floating thumb seems easier to learn from a beginner's standpoint, and I would have adopted one of these methods early on if I had to do it again, rather than relearn at this point. Anchored thumb is easier for me, because my thumb naturally curls backward, compared to some of my students who seem to have very straight thumbs (floating thumb would probably work better for them).

As with most musical advice, these are guidelines to work with, and there are no hard set rules, other than the rules of physics. Play for comfort, but try to think about the advantages or disadvantages of any given technique and how they relate to the style or genre that you are going for. Learning to view music in this way can set you up with great perspective and enable you to experiment and creatively break rules.
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