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Playing with your thumbs?

 
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John Ellison IV



Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 12:02 am    Post subject: Playing with your thumbs? Reply with quote

I ask the question alot (I guess I'm looking for a "majority answer") but is it okay to "pluck" with your thumbs.

It feels weird when I play with my index and middle fingers. But feels natural playing with my thumb and index finger. Is this incorrect method or just fine.
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Mike Zee



Joined: 20 Mar 2001
Posts: 766
Location: NY, USA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 1:29 am    Post subject: Playing with your thumbs? Reply with quote

it's not 'incorrect' but less common ... that's all. It's just most people get the best out of index/mid ... also most people trying to learn that way ..and there you have it - most common :)

have fun
/Mike Zee aka Dr ZEE

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Neil C



Joined: 25 Feb 2004
Posts: 364
Location: Moonbase Alpha

PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 2:49 pm    Post subject: Playing with your thumbs? Reply with quote

When I first started the thumb felt more natural to me. I think thats the natural way the hand wants to do it. Nevertheless I learned to pluck with first and middle finger (which is totally natural to me now) and I think this is definitely a better technique if you can develop it. My advice is to make the effort, but anything goes really and if thumb is what you want then thumb is fine.
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Mike Zee



Joined: 20 Mar 2001
Posts: 766
Location: NY, USA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 8:42 pm    Post subject: Playing with your thumbs? Reply with quote

from point of anatomy, physiology and biomechanics thumb is least flexable, least sensetive and thus has slower reaction than other fingers...well, again, for most individuals. Also , here is a 'test' , simply close your eyes and put left index and right index on the desk, feel it. then put left index and right thumb on the desk, again close your ese and feel it. So what is more natural for you to do somthing with both indexes or index/thumb? For most people it is natural - feels like you can do 'better' what ever you may need to do with indexes, especially if the task would be something like very sophisticated or sensetive.... playing instrument is pretty sophisticated act and it is very sensetive act.
So since playing bass is a sophisticated combination of actions on the frets (with mostly index, middle and other fingers as well(but no thumb)) and by picking hand.... so naturally you can guess, that you may get better complex result if you use index/index but not index/thumb.
But then again.... this is really can be overcome with allots of practice...and then what ever you practicethe most - becomes more and more natural for you.
One thing is for sure , thou ... and it is well known, especially from activities like sports, dance etc.... something what feels very unnatural at first actually is the 'door' to much more freedom of movements and expressive actions ...if you put some effort into practice and overcome that point.

:)
/mike zee aka Dr ZEE

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LeChat



Joined: 04 Mar 2004
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2005 11:51 pm    Post subject: Playing with your thumbs? Reply with quote

The right hand has a remarkable amount of control over tone. I always use the thumb on bass that I want to sound deep like dub bass. It's just easier for me to get the sound thataway. I usually hit the string where the neck meets the body. I think it's best to try and get as close to the tone and vibe you want without paying attention to technique, or using any effects, tone control, nothing, and then tweak from there.
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Seth



Joined: 27 Mar 2004
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 5:09 am    Post subject: Playing with your thumbs? Reply with quote

Playing with your thumb is certainly not incorrect. Fender basses made before the 1970s had finger rests designed for the player to anchor his or her fingers and pluck with the thumb.

I like the lazy feel I get when playing exclusively with my thumb, and I've developed quite a bit of speed and articulation with the thumb/index technique (which is a carry over from playing fingerstyle guitar). Sometimes I play with my thumb or thumb/index and mute the strings with the side of my right hand. This technique can produce a strong fundamental and quick decay -- or even an indistinct thud. Both sounds are useful in certain situations.

All that said, I agree with the others that it is worthwhile to practice playing with your fingers, even if that feels weird at first. It's a fundamental technique on the instrument. With time and effort it should start to click.

Here's what Familyman has said about this matter:
"You shoot for that original upright bass sound, you know? To get that sound I use my thumb occasionally, but when you use the other two fingers you have a more speedy action and more control over the notes you're hitting. It's when you have your one-drop notes moving on there that your thumb get a more smoother cushion."
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