Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

dumb question of the week, or maybe year: thumb rest


Richard W

Recommended Posts

Whenever I see a bass with a thumb rest, the thumb rest sits below the strings. Why is that? Shouldn't it be placed above the E string, so you can actually rest your thumb there (instead of, say, the pick up)? I'm having a hard time envisioning how you use the rest when it's below the G string. Please enlighten me, fellow thumpers.
"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 36
  • Created
  • Last Reply

I'll just say I hate thumb rests. Even if you're using the pickup as a thumb rest, you're not playing right. That being said... I'll at times rest my thumb on the E string. Shouldn't do that.... right? I'm not formally trained, I'm just a KB player who plays bass, but anyway...

 

EDIT: and then there's Sting!

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The thumb rest below the strings ain't for the thumb. It's for your ring and pinky for why you slap and pop. The third and fouth fingers anchor your hand, you pivot on the wrist and the outside of the thumb becomes the hammer.

 

Even if you're using the pickup as a thumb rest, you're not playing right.

 

Consequently, LZ, I use the Pup on my 51 reissue as a thumb rest, pulling off to hit the E. It works well for me. I defy you to show me excactly where I'm wrong.

 

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The thumb rest below the strings ain't for the thumb. It's for your ring and pinky for why you slap and pop. The third and fouth fingers anchor your hand, you pivot on the wrist and the outside of the thumb becomes the hammer

 

Not exactly.

 

Leo thought that bass players would play his instrument with their thumb. You were supposed to hold on to the rest and pluck with your thumb. This was way before anyone ever dreamed of slapping.

 

Eventually playing with the thumb became the synonymous with being an ignorant player. It took a few more years and then Fender moved the rest to the other side where you could actually rest your thumb on it.

 

Later they stopped putting them on the basses altogether.

 

When I bought my Jazz bass 40 years ago, I took the rest off on the day I bought it.

 

Here is a picture of Monk Montgomery, the first jazz player to play a Fender, playing with his thumb while holding onto the rest.

http://wjmorephotography.com/root/wjmorephotography/iphoto/photos/images1/prvMonk%20Montgomery-002.jpg

 

Monk Montgomery was the brother of guitarist Wes Montgomery. (a third brother, Buddy, played piano).

 

Monk played with Lionel Hampton for many years.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even if you're using the pickup as a thumb rest, you're not playing right.

 

Consequently, LZ, I use the Pup on my 51 reissue as a thumb rest, pulling off to hit the E. It works well for me. I defy you to show me excactly where I'm wrong.

 

I was wondering the exact same thing: LZ, where is SNF wrong?

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, once again I learn from this forum that I've been playing bass incorrectly for 26 years, which I owe up to my instructor.

 

A great musician who works with top-notch talent (including former members of BS&T). But I think maybe jazz is taught differently! The only thing I PERSONALLY feel he led me a bit astray on was going for super-high action. I think that was to build finger strength though, just as piano teachers often set their keybed action to be quite heavy.

 

I don't like resting my thumb on the pickup, as most people seem to do (of those who rest their thumb anywhere at all, and it seems those on this forum don't). This is because I have worked with a lot of piezo pickups over the years.

 

I tend to place my thumb at the end of the fretboard, which means I am mostly fingering over the neck pickups or between the neck and bridge pickups -- another no-no on this forum, as the "right" way is to finger over the bridge pickups, which I personally find too plunky and "rock" sounding, with less wood in the sound.

 

If I am using a plectrum, of course I don't rest my thumb anywhere, but I don't think that's what's being discussed. :-)

 

My recently-sold Godin Acoustibass Fretless had a long ebony thumb rest. I personally find that I get my most consistent fingering by "taking the thumb out of the equation" (except when slapping/popping), just as on upright bass.

 

Now that I am starting to buy vintage-style bass guitars with only 20 frets and a different pickup placement than my modern basses, I am experimenting more with anchoring the thumb on the neck pickup, which often is designed as a thumb rest on the low "E"/"B" string side.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jaco played over the bridge pick-up, man, all the cool players do likewise. ;)

 

Jamerson, on the other hand, often played betwen the neck pickup and the neck, and so did Entwhistle.

 

I"m guessing that "proper" position comes more from URB players, where I think it has a greater impact on playing and sounding right.

 

Electric bass players, on the other hand, should be able to play with there hand positioned wherever it feels/sounds right. I change hand position a lot to see what will give me the tone I want. Using a plectrum up near the neck really gives a thumpy sound while dulling down the highs.

 

Jeremy is right, of course about the thumb rest, the same info has been published in the Fender bass book and cited elswhere.

 

I've seen a few thumb players, not slappers, but players who use their thumb almost exclusively to pluck, and I've tried it as well. It adds a different tone, and one could actually palm mute and thumb pluck at the same time.

"Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.'-Hamlet

 

Guitar solos last 30 seconds, the bass line lasts for the whole song.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure why resting the thumb on the pickup is "wrong." Jamerson picking with one finger is "wrong," and Chris Squire fretting with his left thumb over the back of the neck is "wrong," too.
"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's no wrong way to pluck the strings. I saw someone playing his bass with a banana once. Sounded different but fitted with the music well.

 

I usually rest my thumb on the P pickup as I like the sound I get from playing over the neck Pickup. However depending on the sound I want I may not rest my thumb at all. I think the term is 'floating'.

 

I was shown the palm muting while plucking with thumb recently and it gives a great Dub Reggae sound. Nice.

Feel the groove internally within your own creativity. - fingertalkin

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jeremy, didn't some guys even refer to the "thumbrest" as a tug-bar (as in something to hold on to while plucking with your thumb?

 

...Even if you're using the pickup as a thumb rest, you're not playing right...

lolz

Push the button Frank.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mark, I'm not sure if there's some sarcasm in your post or not. I don't think there's a "right way" to pluck per this forum in particular.

 

It's important, in my opinion, to be flexible in terms of where a player plucks -- we all know that you get different tonal quality depending on where your plucking hand is placed from neck to bridge (or even over the neck).

 

As for anchoring, again, I believe flexibility is key -- end of the neck, pickup, lowest string (e.g, B or E; and which can help with muting as well), body of the bass, floating -- these can all be fine. Being dependent on a specific anchor point can limit a player's ability to take advantage of the tonal range offered by plucking hand placement.

 

Peace.

--SW

 

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I tend to place my thumb at the end of the fretboard, which means I am mostly fingering over the neck pickups or between the neck and bridge pickups....

 

I do the same - learned it from one of the best players I know, who played a lot of jazz and swing. Personally, I feel like I have more control over my volume and fingering. If I need to get louder, I anchor on the neck pickup on my Jazz and pluck right over it.

 

I've often asked this same question about the Fender thumbrests/tugbars, especially with all the reissues. They are never very useful, even on the styles where the rest is above the strings. The spacing always seems too wide to really hold onto it. I assumed that nowadays they are for "vintage" decoration purposes only.

"Of all the world's bassists, I'm one of them!" - Lug
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most of the time I rest my thumb on the pickup when I pluck the B (or E - 4 string) then rest on the string above the one I'm plucking for the other strings.

 

I used to remove those thumbrests/tugbars on the basses that had them also. They just got in my way.

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

http://www.myspace.com/theeldoradosband

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is way too early in the year to suggest that is the dumbest question.....maybe as of yet, but certainly not for the year.

 

I started out anchoring to the pickup. Now I am one string lower than the one being played. I mostly don't think about it unless I am resting the thumb on the neck to play between the neck pick up and the neck.

How do you sign a computer screen?

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What Jeremy said. I'm old enough to have started playing that way on an old P-bass. The rest below was where one placed the fingers to give the resistance to plucking down with the thumb. I can still remember the blister I had on my thumb when using that technique. I did't play that way for very long and started using the alternating two finger method.

 

Wally

I have basses to play, places to be and good music to make!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been pretty well anchored on the pickup from the beginning, but would like to float more, resting on the string above the one I'm picking. Are there any good techniques for learning to do it this way, or is it just practice? I guess I'm nervous about slipping my thumb off of the "anchor" string.
"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like Jeremy said, it ain't a thumb rest, it's a "Tug Bar"

The dumbest question is "What's a Tug" and then there is "the floating thumb technique" Wow, things can really get confusing.

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No sacrcasm; I am trying to be open to what I can learn from people on this forum, as I have been "on my own" as a bassist since moving to the west coast 19 years and away from my one and only teacher of 6-8 years.

 

Really though, I probably subconsciously move my anchor point without realizing it, as I let my ears be the judge at all times, and am constantly changing my technique within any given set list or even song. So I may be totally wrong that I am primarily anchoring my thumb at the 24th fret.

 

The only thing I'm religious about is the plectrum, which I feel extremely strongly should ONLY be used in a downstroke action away from the body, and NEVER back-and-forth like on electric guitar. But it CAN be a way of quickly muting to avoid resonance.

 

There are some good points about the "sloppy" or "incorrect" techniques of some of our favourite bassists. This goes for concert pianists as well. There really is no right or wrong, but if one has started to take things for granted then a re-examination of techniques can lead to additional growth, even for a pro.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's cool that you studied with Carol. I met her at NAMM a few years back and she's really nice and open. Her jazz trio was great! But the funny thing is, some of the bassists I admire the most, have opinions I strongly disagree with.

 

Carol Kaye has stated in several interviews that bassists should ONLY use a plectrum. Anthony Jackson said that anybody with less than a 7-string bass can't be taken seriously as a pro!

 

So, it's great to learn what we can from our heroes, but in the end we have to be ourselves and find our own voice (and technique) on the instrument.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I tend to place my thumb at the end of the fretboard, which means I am mostly fingering over the neck pickups or between the neck and bridge pickups....

 

My hand tends to drift back & forth from up by the neck to back by the bridge, for different tones as needed. Mostly, I do rest my thumb on the edge off the pickguard, and it slides up to the side of the neck as needs be. But over the last year or two, I have also been using what I would call more of a "floating hand" than "floating thumb" technique, with my thumb loosely tucked into my palm. I frankly don't notice a lot of difference, in terms of tone or ease of playing.

 

 

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

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anthony Jackson said that anybody with less than a 7-string bass can't be taken seriously as a pro!

 

Do you have a reference for this? I have a hard time believing any bassist could say something so stupid.

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the distant past, Carol Kaye's Rock and Jazz bass lessons (a cassette and some stapled sheets of paper in a big zip-loc bag) were the first I owned, and I wish I still had them. Seriously, she put a lot of learning in clear and concise examples, and I really felt I learned something, passages I still remember nearly thirty years later.

 

Use of a plectrum for bass-playing requires a lot of practice for me, I've played mostly fingerstyle, but some songs/venues almost require a pick to sound right/be heard at all.

 

Listen to

it just doesn't sound the same when played fingerstyle.

"Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.'-Hamlet

 

Guitar solos last 30 seconds, the bass line lasts for the whole song.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To say resting your thumb was wrong was probably a poor choice of words on my part. I've always been to old that it was better not to rest your thumb because then you rely on an anchor point rather than being able to float your hand and always play in the proper position. That being said, it's can be more or less appropriate given the style. But I still think you're better off if you don't rely on it (not to say I don't do it- I do).

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was in Bass Player magazine a few years back -- I usually throw those out, but can check whether I saved that one. he was playing an 8-string at the time.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...