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To float or not to float?


Groove Mama

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I started taking bass lesson 2 yrs ago from a guitar player, who taught me to use a floating thumb technique, wherein I anchor my thumb on the string above whichever one I'm plucking. It's great for muting but impedes my plucking speed.

 

In all the concerts I've attended since, I've never seen a professional bass player use this technique.

 

I now have a real bass teacher who is encouraging me to anchor my thumb on the bass body. Needless to say, I've now got strings ringing all over the place. Sounds terrible, although I'm hoping it will improve eventually.

 

Hence my question: To float or not to float? Thanks.

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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Many players rest on the top string, many rest against the body or the pickup. I use them all without realizing it, it just comes natural. The muting normally comes from your left fretting fingers or your right palm. I always considered letting your thumb rest against the body as the floating technique?????

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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I use either technique and for the most part don't really think much about it. I rest my thumb on the B, E, and A strings when I play my 5er. It feels better for that bass. When I play the Franken-Fender I will anchor on the pickup.

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Thanks, guys. Guess I need to start working on left-hand muting, eh? Appreciate the help!

 

"When you reach a point in life where you realize you don't know anything, then you are getting smart !"

Oh, man, I am SO at this point!

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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I now have a real bass teacher who is encouraging me to anchor my thumb on the bass body.

 

Sounds more like you've got a real jackass. This isn't a bad habit you're trying to break. It is an accepted method of playing and lots of people use it. Do whichever is most comfortable or natural to you. And maybe think about finding a new teacher.

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Monday night, I sat admiringly watching the right hand technique one of the best bassists in KC. He didn't rest any finger of his right hand against the bass. His hand hovered over the strings and his fingers reached out to pluck the strings from above them. THAT is floating technique. When you touch the bass or strings, you have a point of contact, and you aren't floating.

 

I'd say your new teacher has some ego issues if he's telling you he has the only right way to play bass. I'd say he's a jerk if he's running down your previous teacher. Even if he is good, that's pretty small time.

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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Welcome to the forum! :wave:

I see nothing wrong with the way you're playing your bass as I

at times use the same technique. To be honest, I use a number of techniques when I pluck the strings depending on what I'm playing. Anything that gets the job done. I too am a bit worried about your new teacher. He sounds a bit set in his ways.

Lydian mode? The only mode I know has the words "pie ala" in front of it.

http://www.myspace.com/theeldoradosband

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Muting is pretty much the most important technique on bass and takes time.

 

Regarding floating thumb there are many styles which many different people prefer.

 

There the fixed thumb approach where the thumb stays on the thumbrest, pickup or ramp which is fine though it inhibits using a wide variety of right hand positions for tone.

 

There's the technique you call floating thumb which I was taught and is actually a kind of moving anchor where you anchor the thumb a string below the one you are plucking.

 

The third option is the Todd Johnson approach which in which the floating thumb hangs down behind the first and second fingers and mutes unplayed strings (between the fingers and the strings) - this is a great approach but takes time to master.

 

 

There are a ton of other methods too but I never heard of anchoring the thumb on the body.

 

 

Often nowadays I play with the thumb so I don't have to worry about it.

 

 

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I use the same technique you mention for a large majority of my playing. As in I anchor my thumb on the string above the one I'm plucking and use it to help mute the unused strings. I play metal; the faster the better, and that technique in no way limits my speed. I get a lot comments from people, especially other bassists, about my playing speed using that technique.

 

I switch to anchoring against the face of the body or a pickup edge to play multistring runs that flow better that way. When I slap, I'm anchored mainly with my forearm but that's pretty loose.

 

I sometimes use my thumb to pluck low notes as well, but that's pretty infrequent at this time.

 

Play whatever way feels most comfortable to you. If anyone tells you to force yourself to play in an uncomfortable way, ignore them.

 

Having said that, no one technique is perfect for every piece, so it's wise to have several in your toolbox.

 

 

 

 

Feel free to visit my band's site

Delusional Mind

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Todd's method is great for extended range basses. He does not anchor on the string and just lays the outside of his thumb allowing him to mute a couple of strings. He moves across the strings by moving his shoulder. I use this when playing my five and six string basses.

 

Wally

I have basses to play, places to be and good music to make!
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It's kind of hard to say how I coordinate my left- and right-hand muting technique to cut down on all that string "cross talk" -- it's just sort of become instinctive over time.

 

But I definitely anchor on the lowest string (B or E, depending on which bass) when playing the others.

"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"
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Thanks, everybody, SO MUCH for such great suggestions. Just to clarify, I love my bass teacher. He is fully a proponent of "Whatever works, use it." He merely threw this method out there as a way for me to gain plucking speed. (I've been working on "Reeling in the Years" and can't pluck fast enough to get all the DUMP da DUMP da DUMP da DUMPs required. Remember, I'm still pretty new at this.)

 

If nothing else, this exercise has highlighted the need for me to learn left-hand muting, and that's a good thing.

 

So happy I joined this forum. You guys ROCK! Thx again.

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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I just relistened to that song, and I could play it double time or more with floating thumb, the technique isn't the limitation.

 

It's time to work on your speed chops! I suggest learning the bass line to this song. I consider this song a good workout. I play this one fretless, and I can't help but smile all the way through it. Haven't played it in awhile so I'll probably do it tonight now that I'm thinking about it.

 

Enjoy =D

 

Feel free to visit my band's site

Delusional Mind

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Another vote for the Todd Johnson method of thumb muting. Its about the only way I can mute the low strings when playing high up on my 6 string.

 

It's become 2nd nature and I even find myself using my thumb that way on 4 or 5 string bass guitars.

 

But, as others have written, sometimes my thumb rests on a string or a pickup housing. Other times it's just hanging out waiting to be used for something to do. Occasionally I use my thumb and 2 fingers when chording or doing multi-string rolls.

 

My advice: do whatever it takes to make the music happen.

 

Oh, and welcome to our little corner of the interweb! :wave:

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i play a precision.

i anchor my thumb on the side of the pickup when i play over the pickup.

when i play closer to the neck i anchor my thumb on the body (the scratchplate offers me a little ridge there :)).

 

say i'm plucking a note on the A-string: my left hand mutes the D and G string and my right hand the E-string (my pinky or my ring finger, it depends, i don't think about it anymore and when i do i screw up).

 

cheerio!

 

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Floating thumb = not to be confused with the floating head of death.

 

The photo below shows where my thumb is most of the time, unless I'm slapping. I don't anchor it anywhere:

 

http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c32/cft3/pokechop017.jpg

 

BTW, my gut is not really that big. I tore my shirt and had to buy one from the bar, and they only had XXL...

 

 

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BTW, my gut is not really that big. I tore my shirt and had to buy one from the bar, and they only had XXL...

 

Thanks, Chad. But don't worry about your gut. All we care about is your thumb. :-)

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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I find I tend to use several different techinques, alot of the time my hand is turned so that my fingers are more parallel with the strings but curled in a bit, and I use my thumb and all 4 fingers like I was fingerpicking a guitar...seems like I do this for faster runs and such things... when I'm playing normally my thumb sually rests on the front P pickup, but sometimes it just hangs there useless... Don't take any technique tips from me, though... I'll be the first to tell you that my technique sucksrocks... seriously... if a real bass player watched me play he'd probably wet himself laughing so hard... in fact, I think some have...

 

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BTW, my gut is not really that big. I tore my shirt and had to buy one from the bar, and they only had XXL...

 

Thanks, Chad. But don't worry about your gut. All we care about is your thumb. :-)

Yeah, girls always say that, but they don't mean it.

 

Actually, the only reason I look so big is because our guitar player is such a shrimp. :D

 

 

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