#1
Hi guys, i am a bass beginner, just started learning by myself these past few days. I followed all tutorials on studybass.com, there teaches me to use the wandering thumb technique or ring finger to mute the strings (Place your thumb on the face (not on top) of your pickup closest to the neck. Let your thumb linger just above the E-string.). Today i found this on youtube, she was just maintaining the thumb on the pickup, not hovering on e-string. Also she is not using her thumb or ring finger to mute, anyone know what technique is she using, i would like to learn to play like that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVbFbI7Hhwc&feature=player_embedded#!

Lastly, i am also having trouble finding a good picking hand position, hands get tired or cramp easy on my picking hand. Anyone can teach me anything?
#2
If you are a beginner, cramp and tired hands is perfectly normal... practice in several short sessions rather than a couple of long ones
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#4
Muting techniques are kind of a tough one because everyone sort of has there own and they don't need to always be used, sometimes it's just for a certain passage that you'll need it. But in general, the way I do it is my follow through the string mutes the one immediately below it. If I'm on the G I'll use the pad of my finger to mute the E string and the knuckle to mute the A.

As for thumb placement, there's a lot of different ways to do it. A lot of people (like me) plant their thumb on top of the pickup. Some plant the thumb on the face and others on the side. If you're going to plant your thumb I don't think it makes a difference where you do it. Some people don't plant their thumb and use the movable anchor by placing their thumb on the string below or two strings below the one they're playing (I hate this technique as it simply makes no sense). The only other technique that I think is good for thumb placement other than and anchor is the floating thumb. I'm not really well versed in it however this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_oBJlE5qNc&feature=PlayList&p=9F1F937862B39D31&playnext_from=PL&playnext=1&index=5 is. It's basically a muting system and thumb placement in one that a lot of people swear by.
#5
sorry, i don't really understand the last part. That girl don't even move the thumb most of the time, and what i saw was only the index n middle finger moving alternately.
#7
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
Some people don't plant their thumb and use the movable anchor by placing their thumb on the string below or two strings below the one they're playing (I hate this technique as it simply makes no sense).


I use this technique. It has been somewhat of a natural progression in my transition from an anchored-thumb player to a non-anchored-thumb player.

I can see how it would make no sense to people that anchor their thumbs on a pickup or thumbrest, as that particular hand posture cocks your thumb back in an unnatural position that you get used to over time and eventually feels normal.

When you play unanchored, your thumb rests parallel to the rest of your fingers. So it is only natural that when you want to really hunker down on a few notes, your thumb automatically anchors on the closest string...which is usually the string above the one you are fretting.

I dont think that most people decide to anchor on a string. It more of a subconcious reaction to the relation of playing unanchored.

Also, some people that anchor to the strings may be using thumb and finger techniques like a guitar player finger picks.

.
Last edited by RobinTH at Jun 1, 2010,
#9
I use right and left had to mute strings for different parts of songs. It's just a matter of what I need to be doing with each hand.
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#10
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
Using the thumb to pick is one thing, but to rest and move the thumb every time you change strings is just way too inefficient to me.


If you absolutely have to anchor your thumb to a string at all times, then yes, it is very inefficient. But having to anchor your thumb to anything at all times is also very inefficient as well as a handicap. Not to say you cant be a good anchored player, but it is limiting.

Like I said, a non-anchored thumb rests parallel to your fingers. When you want to hit a note harder, the above string is the closest thing to your thumb and is actually a very efficient place to anchor it for a few seconds.
#11
Anchoring at all times isn't inefficient at all. It's probably the most efficient because you're doing the least amount of work. If you're performing the same action, the fewer moving parts there are the less work you're going to have to do. That said, floating thumb isn't that bad because you're not really doing much work to have it hang there, however when you move the anchor there's a lot of unnecessary motions that don't need to be there.
#12
My technique is a little odd, or I think it is, I've never seen anyone else do this:

My thumb never touches the bass or strings at all, so in the technical sense I'm not particularly anchored, however, when I pluck with my index and middle fingers, each finger alternately mutes the string below it. For example: My index plucks the A string, comes down to mute the E. In this fashion one of my fingers is always muting and one is always primed for playing. As my right hand is always in contact with something at all times the position is pretty much constant, and as such I am, for all intents and purposes; ''Anchored''.

To be honest the rest of my muting becomes very simple with my left hand. and the only issue with this technique is allowing several strings to ring out, which can be done with slight allowances to technique.
#13
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
Using the thumb to pick is one thing, but to rest and move the thumb every time you change strings is just way too inefficient to me.


I feel the same, too much movement on the thumb got higher risk of ringing other strings. And the video i posted here, how did the girl mute the string?with left hand?or any other technique that i don't know?
#14
Muting is one of those things where there really isn't a set technique. There are several well-known ones (like the two you listed) but it's really up to you. The only thing a muting technique needs to be able to do is mute the strings that you don't want ringing. That's it. Personally, I started with the floating thumb, then I learned the second technique you talked about (probably from the same source as you) and now when I play, I do a combination of the two depending on what's easier or what fits that song better.
#15
Check out the books and DVDs by Anthony Vitti - particularly The Finger Funk Workbook and Accelerate your Bass Playing. He has a great muting technique and these should be of help.
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#16
I anchor on the strings. For two reasons:

1. Muting. My right hand technique definitely could use further cleaning up, so floating the thumb cuts down on noise.

2. Consistency. I have pretty small hands, and especially on a bass with a wide string spacing, and it helps me get a stronger pluck with a more even volume across all the strings.
#17
I'm a beginner too and mute my notes WAY different (I think) to the ways that you guys are talking about.

It really depends on what you're playing imo. When playing, I sometimes use the plucking fingers to mute notes, especially if it's a sustained note, but sometimes i do this other thing a music teacher, who works/owns the place where i go to learn, told me to do and its using the hand that frets the notes (sorry about the terminology, i.e. the hand that doesn't do the plucking) and using that to mute. To place that hand lightly across the strings to mute it, but not too hard as to push the string(s) onto the fretboard. It works for me .

Tbh, it's become a bit of a sub-conscious habit, even after only 4-5 months playing.
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#18
^Yeah, that's left handed muting and a good combination of the two, and naturally switching between the two, is essential to play quality bass.

As for the girl in the video she may have a) not been muting the strings (it's not always necessary, although it's good to just get into the habit) b) muted with her left hand c) used her right hand ring finger or some other finger combo to mute or d) (the preferred method) done a combination of b) and c)
#20
She was definately muting with her right hand ring and pinky fingers. As for the left hand, it was moving too fast to tell. And often a muted note with the right hand is visibly undectable by the viewer. Probably a combo of the two though. I use both. It just depends on what you are playing.
#21
OK, so i tried out the techniques yesterday night. Thumb on pickup permanently, pinky on E, ring on A, how do i mute the D string when i'm playing on G when my left hand is busy fretting? i also tried ring finger muting A & D together by curving my finger abit, but still not convenient. Any other ideas to mute E/A/D when playing alternate finger style on G?I wanna try muting only by using the plucking hand. Thanks
#22
I prefer ghost notes and a sort of palm muting variation, when to use each one depends on the feel really.
#24
This is how I mute: When i'm playing on the E string, my thumb will be anchored on the pickup, Everything below that and my thumb will be on the E string. When I'm playing on the higher strings (D,G) I'll use my pinky and ring finger to mute the E (not really necessary on the E since i should have my thumb there but you never know) and A, unless i'm using 3 fingers to play.

Also when I pluck the strings, my finger that plucked the string will mute the one below it and then the finger that hasn't plucked anything yet will mute the original string. In the fretting hand I fret the strings so that the tips of my fingers are touching the string below it. (Playing G, my finger tips will touch D and mute D)

So yeah, but don't get into the habit of laying your fingers across the strings in your fretting hand, it's really inefficient and can lead to a variety of problems

EDIT: thumb only on the pickup and pinky and ring muting A and E isn't the most efficient thing to learn when/if you want to move on to using 3 fingers, you will have to relearn your muting technique, you may as well learn to move your thumb onto the E when not playing it and using your pinky to mute A, freeing up another finger.
Last edited by Bass First at Jun 3, 2010,
#25
Quote by streetrat
anymore opinions?


Yes, go get some technique lessons from an educated professional. The people that are telling you to anchor your thumb permanently on the pickup arent doing you any favors. Quite the opposite, really.
#26
^What are you talking about? Very few "educated professionals" would say that anchoring on the pickup is bad technique. They may suggest a floating thumb (although I doubt any would suggest using a moveable anchor and anchoring on the strings) to be better, but they wouldn't say anchoring is a poor technique. There are far too many really great, technically proficient bassists who've done that throughout history (which is really where technique comes from) to call it poor technique.
#27
Fine. Then we wont call it bad technique. We'll call it the least proficient way to pluck your strings. They do suggest a floating thumb to be better, which has been my point all along. They also suggest that a moveable anchor is more proficient than anchoring to the pickup. If you seriously cant see on your own why those are better techniques, then there is nothing I can do to convince you.

But I will say that when I first started to learn bass, there was no internet, no Youtube and no discussion forums. There was only books, tapes, lessons and word of mouth. Every serious bass and guitar player I talked to, and every instructor I had all said the same thing: "Pickup anchoring is a bad habit, but the easiest way to start. Some day you'll need to learn to not do it".

Funny thing is, I played that way for almost 15 years. It wasnt until I got a new bass with a different pickup config that I changed my anchoring habits. Not only was the pickup not in my "sweet spot", but it was a 6-string bass. Running the gammut on string plucking while trying to stay anchored to a pickup just wasnt happening. That bass broke several bad habits for me; including poor fretting hand posture.

So I will tell you the same thing I was told. Go ahead and play that way if that is what is right for you now. But someday you are going to need to learn how to not anchor. The longer you wait, the harder it gets.
#28
That is... absolutely baffling. I can't even... You're just making an arbitrary statement of floating thumb>anchored without any kind of explanation of why except for "educated professionals" say so. Sounds like the 4 out of 5 dentists in those toothpaste ads. What's more is I've never talked to an educated professional who encourages the floating thumb, I've actually never seen one that's used the floating thumb

A moveable anchor is not more efficient (efficient not proficient) than anchoring the thumb on the pickup. That's simple physical fact that you can't really argue with. Not moving is always more efficient than moving.

I would also say floating thumb probably isn't any more efficient, it's about the same in terms of efficiency, just different in terms of execution. All floating thumb really does is allow you to mute with the thumb. There's also talk of better wrist form, but proper technique with an anchor allows for the same thing. The reason I don't play with a floating thumb (other than I've let my electric playing fall to the wayside with double bass) is that I've never been convinced that it's any better or worth me starting over with my right hand.
#29
Ah, you play a double bass. Its all starting to make sense.

I would also say floating thumb probably isn't any more efficient, it's about the same in terms of efficiency, just different in terms of execution. All floating thumb really does is allow you to mute with the thumb. There's also talk of better wrist form, but proper technique with an anchor allows for the same thing. The reason I don't play with a floating thumb (other than I've let my electric playing fall to the wayside with double bass) is that I've never been convinced that it's any better or worth me starting over with my right hand.


All the floating thumb does is allow you to mute with the thumb? Really?
It also prevents fatigue by keeping your hand in a natural position.
It also allows you to easily play different areas of the body for different tones.
It also allows you to change playing styles fluidly.
It also allows you to quickly anchor to a string for those more powerful notes.
Believe it or not, it also allows for a softer touch when needed.
Funny, I dont mute with my thumb.

You're right though. I cant argue simple physical facts. The difference is that when you float your thumb, your wrist/lower forearm becomes your pivot on the upper bout. Not only does this allow you to play more relaxed and natural, it gives you more range and greater ease of movement in all directions. So instead of having a strained hand with an inch of pivoting space, you have a relaxed hand with about a foot, depending on your playing style. Sometimes I like to play over frets 18-24 for those very soft songs parts that require a round tone, or right up at the bridge for that twangy growl, hence the 12" of pivot space.

Anyway, I gave you a couple of those same explanations in previous posts which you chose to ignore and then claim that I'm making arbitrary statements with no explanation. Then you had the nerve to point out a stupid wording error instead of actually trying to hear what I am saying. Stop being so damn obtuse. I'm trying to keep this civil. Check yourself.

You can play however you want. It makes no difference to me.
#30
Quote by RobinTH
Ah, you play a double bass. Its all starting to make sense.


All the floating thumb does is allow you to mute with the thumb? Really?
It also prevents fatigue by keeping your hand in a natural position.
Not really, the thumb in an anchored technique is like a crutch (not in a bad way) it supports some weight which prevent even more fatigue then your floating thumb technique
It also allows you to easily play different areas of the body for different tones.
...so does anchoring your thumb.
It also allows you to change playing styles fluidly.
...yeah, so does anchoring your thumb, in fact anchoring your thumb probably makes it easier to change styles, for example, finger style to slapping and popping would involve less movement if you were anchored
It also allows you to quickly anchor to a string for those more powerful notes.
Anchoring your thumb already lets you pluck as hard or as soft as you want, instead of moving into an anchor position, you are already there, more efficient.
Believe it or not, it also allows for a softer touch when needed.
So does anchoring your thumb, jeeze.
Funny, I dont mute with my thumb.

You're right though. I cant argue simple physical facts. The difference is that when you float your thumb, your wrist/lower forearm becomes your pivot on the upper bout. Not only does this allow you to play more relaxed and natural, it gives you more range and greater ease of movement in all directions. So instead of having a strained hand with an inch of pivoting space, you have a relaxed hand with about a foot, depending on your playing style. Sometimes I like to play over frets 18-24 for those very soft songs parts that require a round tone, or right up at the bridge for that twangy growl, hence the 12" of pivot space.
You can do all these thing with a good anchor technique.

Anyway, I gave you a couple of those same explanations in previous posts which you chose to ignore and then claim that I'm making arbitrary statements with no explanation. Then you had the nerve to point out a stupid wording error instead of actually trying to hear what I am saying. Stop being so damn obtuse. I'm trying to keep this civil. Check yourself.
Now you're just running out of things to say
You can play however you want. It makes no difference to me.

And how does him playing double bass have anything to do with his electric bass technique? Different instruments, the only thing that will carry over is probably finger strength, fretting technique and maybe some callouses. You mute with your fretting hand on the double bass most of the time anyway.

Now i'm not saying either technique is worse, they are both good but don't trash fingerstyle just because you believe your technique is the best
#31
come on guys, don't argue please, we are 1 big bass family.

I watch quite some japanese bass player on youtube, all of them put their thumb only on the pick up, maybe only 1/2 sec the thumb move to E string, sometimes even when playing on high string the thumb still remained on the pickup. I want to follow their footstep with the thumb only on pickup, so my option to mute is only using ring n pinky finger? Anyone using this thumb on pickup style as well?can give some tips how u guys mute the string?

Thank you.
#32
Haha, we always seem to get thrown off topic ..

Look, you can put your thumb anywhere you want, as long as it's comfy. Sometimes I rest it on that bit of fretboard that juts out, sometimes I have it floating. When I play open E, my thumb is floating as i find it WAY easier to play that way.

And for muting, well, muting with your left hand (the fretting hand) is what I would personally recommend along with muting with your plucking fingers. I have no idea how you can mute with ring and pinky to be honest. Muting with your plucking fingers (middle and index - pointer finger) is how i sometimes mute for sustained (long) notes.

^ That's how I mute mainly. I have P-Style pickups on my bass, so resting on the pickup doesn't really work .. (or does it? .. Does it?). Yeah, but with playing the low E string I would say floating, all the others, floating or on pickup, whichever is more comfortable.
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#33
Ok, this has gotten a little out of hand. My original point has been convoluted to an "us vs. them" argument. I didnt mean to imply that anchoring to the pickup ever was bad technique. My point is that permanently being anchored to the pickup at all times is limiting. If it is a persons only anchoring technique, then I feel that that person is short-changing themselves. In my opinion, that in itself is bad technique.

Thats all I can really say about this. Some of the counterpoints are just not true. Others miss just miss the point and idea behind the technique...and that speaks volumes to me.
Some of you guys are right on the money...and I can appreciate that.
#34
I'll admit I've been more hard-headed about the issue in this thread than I am in real life because of how it was broached. However, I still contend that anchoring to the pickup, in terms of playing straight ahead fingerpicking is not limiting. Am I saying that I never remove my thumb? No, I chord more than the average bass player, but I'm not limited by being anchored on the pickup.

All, I'm saying is that floating thumb has never convinced me. It doesn't seem like any of the arguments for are exclusive to floating thumb. And moveable anchor is still piss.
#35
jazz_rock_feel: I apologize if I initially got off on the wrong foot. That was not my intention.

There are just so many different techniques to use to get the job done, and I dont want to see people get stuck to one thing. As musicians, improving and learning new techniques should always be at the forefront.

I use several different techniques, and sometimes in the same song. Heres a rundown of what I do.

Floating thumb - Kind of misleading as it often times rests on a string, but not for muting. Keeping your thumb in the air at all times will get tiresome. I get greater ease of movement doing this and my hands dont fatigue like they did when I used to perma-anchor.

Pickup Anchor - I use this sometimes for low E or an E/A combo. My current bass isnt really set up to accomodate pickup anchoring in long stretches.

String anchoring - I use this for A/D/G strings when I need some extra leverage to boost dynamics and typically anchor to the low E. If your thumb is already in the floating position, anchoring to a string is only about 3 centimeters away. The two go hand in hand quite well.

Wrist Anchoring - I use this for the floating thumb. As you pointed out earlier, you still need to pivot.

Hand Anchoring - I anchor the side of my hand to the bass body with my thumb curled under. This is good for hitting the low E if you cant anchor to a pickup. Its also good for plucking the strings at an angle. It produces a slightly different tone and I feel that I can hit the strings a lot softer without running the risk of being too rambunctious.

Fretboard Anchoring - I use this when playing over the 18th - 24th frets for a really soft, round tone. This technique is really more of a guide for me so that I know I am staying over the area. I have a tendency to shift backward being that far up, and anchoring to the fretboard serves as a guide to make sure I stay there.

Sometimes I'll even anchor my thumb underneath the B & E strings. I dont do this one on purpose, but sometimes inadvertently find my thumb under there. I usually pull it out immediatley, as I find it to be bad form. Not sure if you can really call it 'anchoring', though.

Those are the techniques I use. In combination they provide for a lot of versatality. They have taken my playing and the feeling of my bass in general to a whole new level. I just want to see people get the most out of the instruments.
Last edited by RobinTH at Jun 4, 2010,
#37
Guys who (whilst playing electric bass) just anchor on the pickup all the time - how on earth do you constantly mute the thicker strings if you're playing anything complicated on the thinner strings? Say you're playing something on the high C of a 6-string (fast and complicated) which requires your fretting hand thumb to be on the back of the neck and all 4 of your fretting fingers to be used - the low B, E and maybe slightly A and D will ring out a hell of a lot (your plucking fingers are muting the G string when they follow through). How do you deal with that? Watching some people play bass on youtube etc, they seem to just ignore the ringing out and people don't seem to notice.

I just go with the floating thumb technique/Adam Nitti style technique where you float or anchor 2 strings below with the rest of your thumb muting the thicker strings.