LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

The Bass Player's Toolbox
Post Reply
User avatar
definite
Gold Member
Posts: 475
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 7:06 pm
Bands / Groups: HANGMAN, THE FUNKY NORTH, DJ DEFINITE, THE REALISTICS
Location: Kaikohe
Contact:

LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

Post by definite » Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:38 pm

Okay so I've gathered that 'good' technique requires one to anchor the left hand with the left thumb always squarely behind the neck ie. not letting the thumb go 'over the edge'

However, probably 40-50% of the time I use my thumb to mute the E string or I just find myself doing it 'naturally' (although I admit it may just be a bad habit/ poor technique thing!)

How strict would you say this rule is when it comes to technique? Im the first to admit that I'm self taught and have quite likely developed some terrible habits over the years (which I'm determined to fix), but yeah what do ya'll say?

User avatar
john
Gold Member
Posts: 2310
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 5:10 pm
Location: wellington

Re: LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

Post by john » Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:51 pm

I often have my thumb on the E string too. And quite often move it down to what ever the string is above the one I am playing .
Or I just rest it on the pickup if I am using the E string a lot.
I am self taught too. I may have bad technique, But if your hand isn't clamping up and you sound consistent (...not consistently crap :mrgreen: ) ) What does it matter

alanp
Bronze Member
Posts: 75
Joined: Thu May 07, 2009 6:02 pm
Bands / Groups: Frankencopter
Location: West Auckland

Re: LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

Post by alanp » Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:17 pm

john wrote:I often have my thumb on the E string too. And quite often move it down to what ever the string is above the one I am playing .
Or I just rest it on the pickup if I am using the E string a lot.
I am self taught too. I may have bad technique, But if your hand isn't clamping up and you sound consistent (...not consistently crap :mrgreen: ) ) What does it matter
- You must have really big hands!

Seriously though, I don't think hand position on the neck is as much an issue as simply being able to play the things you want to play. I've always tried to aim for the 4 fingers-4 frets type of thing, which means bringing in the pinky a lot of the time, but sometimes it's just not that comfortable, or you can't get the power needed with the pinky, so you use the third (ring?) finger instead.

I've noticed that with a lot of name players something like 95 percent of their playing doesn't use what you might call a classical technique, and they allow their hand to close up a bit, and either just use the first 3 fingers, or use the pinky when they're only spanning 3 frets. I reckon it's not going to matter, as long as you do try to do some excercises on scales etc. to help stretch your reach on the frets.
It's not so much being lazy as being comfortable and relaxed, although I guess the flip side of this is that you need to be able to play with good technique comfortably before you allow yourself to be comfortable (lazy) and not use that good technique, lol

Personally, I've never been able to bring the thumb round enough to convincingly fret the E string. Even on guitar, where it pretty useful on some songs, I can't do it, so its not so much of an issue for me to keep my thumb behind the neck.

User avatar
definite
Gold Member
Posts: 475
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 7:06 pm
Bands / Groups: HANGMAN, THE FUNKY NORTH, DJ DEFINITE, THE REALISTICS
Location: Kaikohe
Contact:

Re: LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

Post by definite » Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:25 pm

john wrote: Or I just rest it on the pickup if I am using the E string a lot.
(...not consistently crap :mrgreen: ) ) What does it matter
Woops I think theres a misunderstanding here John! I'm referring to the fret hand (for me my left as I'm right handed) :D

Thanks for the advice you guys! I guess I am able to play (so far!) what I want to play and my technique doesnt really cause any problems per se BUT I am looking at improving my technique for 2 main reasons:

* safer playing/ avoidance of cramp and RSI type stuff
* Improved left hand agility and ability to play quicker yet more relaxed etc

:?:

User avatar
definite
Gold Member
Posts: 475
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 7:06 pm
Bands / Groups: HANGMAN, THE FUNKY NORTH, DJ DEFINITE, THE REALISTICS
Location: Kaikohe
Contact:

Re: LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

Post by definite » Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:31 pm

alanp wrote: Personally, I've never been able to bring the thumb round enough to convincingly fret the E string. Even on guitar, where it pretty useful on some songs, I can't do it, so its not so much of an issue for me to keep my thumb behind the neck.
Not sure what you mean by this? If this refers to my comment about muting the E string I was meaning just lightly touching it to mute NOT actually fretting it! lol

User avatar
john
Gold Member
Posts: 2310
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 5:10 pm
Location: wellington

Re: LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

Post by john » Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:57 pm

alanp wrote:
- You must have really big hands!
definite wrote: Woops I think theres a misunderstanding here John!

lmao....I have just worked 11 days in a row and am obviously in even more retard mode then normal :roll: .

I must have skimmed over the first paragraph (and the rest) and thought I was left handed

alanp
Bronze Member
Posts: 75
Joined: Thu May 07, 2009 6:02 pm
Bands / Groups: Frankencopter
Location: West Auckland

Re: LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

Post by alanp » Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:12 pm

definite wrote:
alanp wrote: Personally, I've never been able to bring the thumb round enough to convincingly fret the E string. Even on guitar, where it pretty useful on some songs, I can't do it, so its not so much of an issue for me to keep my thumb behind the neck.
Not sure what you mean by this? If this refers to my comment about muting the E string I was meaning just lightly touching it to mute NOT actually fretting it! lol
Yeah, I was just kind of going off on a tangent there a bit... It does apply for the muting too - I'm just not comfortable bringing my thumb over the neck, even for muting. Guess it's probably cause I haven't got very big hands. Not that that's any kind of an excuse, I know there's lots of people out there with smaller hands than me can do it.

Bottom line is, I've always played with my thumb behind the neck. Dunno if it's just cause I was really anal about forcing myself to do it when I started out(too long ago to remember, lol), or if I just happen to feel comfortable that way.
I guess that's not a lot of use to you :-), but the real point is, don't get hung up on technique too much, as long as you're not doing things which restrict your ability to reach frets, and play the stuff you wanna play, etc.

*Edit*- sorry, just read your post after mine, and I see you already understood my point about doing what feels comfortable. I'd say you're on the right track with wanting to improve technique - it certainly can't hurt. In which case, I'd definitely recommend trying to get into the habit of keeping the thumb behind the neck, hand arched over the fret board, and play lots of (boring) excercises and scales. As I said, I know lots of players do bring the thumb over, but it seems to me it must close your hand up a bit, draw your little finger away from the fretboard a bit, and restrict your ability to reach frets without moving your hand.

User avatar
model.citizen
Gold Member
Posts: 291
Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 6:43 am
MySpace Page: www.myspace.com/elbajotheband
Skype Address: model.citizen
Bands / Groups: el bajo
Location: auckland

Re: LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

Post by model.citizen » Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:18 pm

i seems that the "proper" technique (that i've seen) is to have your thumb perpendicular to the neck...but it just doesn't work for me, my thumb is always at some kinda weird angle but doesn't prevent me from doing what i need to. i can feel RSI calling if i try and do it all proper-like.

i too curl the thumb around the E (used to do this a-la Hendrix when i was dabbling on the guitar) but only to mute when using a pick on the A and D.

and since i started playing an upright (not often enough!) i tend to play my electrics with the same technique (called Simandl). the main reason for the technique is due to the fact that it can be bloody hard to fret an URB string with just the pinky...having the ring working with it makes it easier...plus keeps your fingers in the correct playing position for position or string changes.
i like rickenbackers. and fridges.

http://www.facebook.com/elbajotheband

User avatar
beagle
Site Admin
Posts: 2305
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 1:59 pm
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

Post by beagle » Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:14 pm

definite wrote:Okay so I've gathered that 'good' technique requires one to anchor the left hand with the left thumb always squarely behind the neck ie. not letting the thumb go 'over the edge'
However, probably 40-50% of the time I use my thumb to mute the E string or I just find myself doing it 'naturally' (although I admit it may just be a bad habit/ poor technique thing!)
How strict would you say this rule is when it comes to technique? Im the first to admit that I'm self taught and have quite likely developed some terrible habits over the years (which I'm determined to fix), but yeah what do ya'll say?
Just out of interest... Did you originally learn bass with a low strap setting?
I started out with quite a high strap setting so having my thumb squarely behind the neck as a habit wasn't too hard to develop.
Musicman Sterling, Fender Jazz, GK 800RB, 400RB, Neo412, Neo112, 410T

User avatar
definite
Gold Member
Posts: 475
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 7:06 pm
Bands / Groups: HANGMAN, THE FUNKY NORTH, DJ DEFINITE, THE REALISTICS
Location: Kaikohe
Contact:

Re: LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

Post by definite » Sat Oct 24, 2009 7:42 am

Hi Beagle-
No actually I didnt start and dont 'lowride' lol - I wear my bass 'as a bib not a belt ' as some would put it!

My thumb doesnt curl around most of the time probably about 50% of the time.

Mmm - Im getting the impression that it really isn't something to worry about!? Yay! (?)

User avatar
model.citizen
Gold Member
Posts: 291
Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 6:43 am
MySpace Page: www.myspace.com/elbajotheband
Skype Address: model.citizen
Bands / Groups: el bajo
Location: auckland

Re: LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

Post by model.citizen » Sat Oct 24, 2009 8:07 am

if you can play what you need comfortably and with no pain, then NO WORRIES :D
i like rickenbackers. and fridges.

http://www.facebook.com/elbajotheband

User avatar
beagle
Site Admin
Posts: 2305
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 1:59 pm
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

Post by beagle » Mon Oct 26, 2009 2:23 pm

definite wrote:Hi Beagle-
No actually I didnt start and dont 'lowride' lol - I wear my bass 'as a bib not a belt ' as some would put it!
V interesting how you got into the habit of using the thumb to mute. I learnt wearing it high also and have never contemplated putting the thumb over the top.
model.citizen wrote:if you can play what you need comfortably and with no pain, then NO WORRIES :D
I agree but if you are trying to extend your playing beyond what it is now then I'm sure sorting it out would only help.
Musicman Sterling, Fender Jazz, GK 800RB, 400RB, Neo412, Neo112, 410T

User avatar
definite
Gold Member
Posts: 475
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 7:06 pm
Bands / Groups: HANGMAN, THE FUNKY NORTH, DJ DEFINITE, THE REALISTICS
Location: Kaikohe
Contact:

Re: LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

Post by definite » Wed Oct 28, 2009 4:13 pm

Thanks for all the comments - I've taken them all into consideration!

I'm still going to work on my left hand position still, but have definitely relaxed on the urgency or importance of it now , so thanks =)

User avatar
definite
Gold Member
Posts: 475
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 7:06 pm
Bands / Groups: HANGMAN, THE FUNKY NORTH, DJ DEFINITE, THE REALISTICS
Location: Kaikohe
Contact:

Re: LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

Post by definite » Tue Dec 15, 2009 4:03 pm

Sweet I've got my left thumb anchored behind the neck at all times now, only rarely bringing it over to mute the E if I'm going hard strumming the D & G strings or whatever -
I must admit that it feels way better on the left hand and fatigue or the dreaded cramp seem to stay away for longer or not at all!

Right, now to get onto that theory stuff lol :D

sonicfantom
Silver Member
Posts: 165
Joined: Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:23 pm
Bands / Groups: Church band (Bassist & backup-backup guitarist).
Location: Auckland

Re: LEFT HAND THUMB POSITION

Post by sonicfantom » Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:09 pm

model.citizen wrote:i seems that the "proper" technique (that i've seen) is to have your thumb perpendicular to the neck...but it just doesn't work for me, my thumb is always at some kinda weird angle but doesn't prevent me from doing what i need to. i can feel RSI calling if i try and do it all proper-like.
I just keep it however's comfortable to me, and it usually ends up sticking into the air backwards at a weird wonky angle. I only realized this when I was showing someone how to play power chords (yes, on my bass :oops: ) and he said "awesome hitchhiker's thumb, dude".

Rule of thumb ( :lol: ), always pay attention to your teacher's fingers, and not his thumb.

Awesome thing is, only my left thumb is a hitchhiker's thumb, so I'm all good on the slapping :D
A-boom boom boom boom!

Post Reply