Wednesday, 22 May 2013
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Ok, so this is my first fanned fret bass, and while I've always played primarily with a pick (shhh! I'm really a guitarist, don't blow my cover!) I'm trying to develop solid fingerstyle technique. The problem I'm running into is that I haven't found a comfortable place to anchor my thumb. The bridge pickup (I play a 5-string Afterburner) isn't bad on the low strings, but on the higher strings means I'm picking right at the bridge, which sounds kind of thin. Moving to the neck pickup solves this, but is probably a little less than ideal from a control perspective on the lower strings. The bigger issue, however, is that an angled pickup is just not that comfortable under your thumb, especially for longer periods of time. Anchoring against the low B is fine, but I play a seven string guitar so a lot of my riffing does involve the low string. So, where do you guys anchor? I'd love to see some pictures or video of how you position your hand while you play. I'm pretty ecstatic with everything else about this bass so I'm hoping this is just something I'll get used to with time. Thanks!
8 years ago
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#26010
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Dingwall and picks go well together, indeed. I play at least half the time w/ a pick. When I play finger style I either dont anchor, or I use the string above to momentarily rest my thumb.
8 years ago
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#26011
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[quote="Mark L":2ae6itye] When I play finger style I either dont anchor, or I use the string above to momentarily rest my thumb.[/quote:2ae6itye] +1
8 years ago
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#26012
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I don't play with a pick, but when I play finger style, I anchor on the neck pickup. I realize it isn't at the angle you're used to, but I got adjusted to it pretty quick.
8 years ago
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#26013
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My thumb is either on the B-string or E-string (muting the B at the same time). I find that it's almost a necessity with these basses as they are so responsive that the sympathetic ring of the lower strings can muddy things up if you don't keep them under control. If I am playing the low B, I think my thumb just hovers or goes on one of the pickup covers... I am not sure. I don't think about it! In general, I pluck the strings over the neck pickup and I try to play diagonally across the strings following the pickup slant.
8 years ago
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#26020
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I usually anchor my thumb on the neck pickup. However, occasionally I need a different tone that requires me to anchor my thumb on the bridge pickup, but then I have to angle my right hand so as not to pluck the higher strings at the bridge, and this is not as comfortable. When using a pick (yes, some songs dictate this), I don't anchor my thumb, but depending on what the range of notes is that I need to play, sometimes hook my pinky on the G or D strings, to give me a point of reference. Almost all muting is done by the left hand.
8 years ago
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#26024
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The way I play is similar to Smallmouth. My thumb floats from string to string but also I lay the full length of the thumb across the strings so that all the open strings are muted even when I play on the G string. This might be awkward for other players who pluck with their index and middle fingers but I pluck with my index and ring finger. It's just a slightly odd habit I fell into when I first tried to play Bebop melodies. Since the ring finger is shorter than the middle finger, you don't need to bend your wrist as much and, as a result, your thumb is closer to the strings. Aside from muting, the floating thumb technique allows you to easily change your plucking location to get a wider variety of tones - mellow at the neck and punchy at the bridge.
8 years ago
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#26046
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[quote="Drew7":tjxzrfw7]Ok, so this is my first fanned fret bass, and while I've always played primarily with a pick (shhh! I'm really a guitarist, don't blow my cover!) I'm trying to develop solid fingerstyle technique. The problem I'm running into is that I haven't found a comfortable place to anchor my thumb. The bridge pickup (I play a 5-string Afterburner) isn't bad on the low strings, but on the higher strings means I'm picking right at the bridge, which sounds kind of thin. Moving to the neck pickup solves this, but is probably a little less than ideal from a control perspective on the lower strings. The bigger issue, however, is that an angled pickup is just not that comfortable under your thumb, especially for longer periods of time. Anchoring against the low B is fine, but I play a seven string guitar so a lot of my riffing does involve the low string. So, where do you guys anchor? I'd love to see some pictures or video of how you position your hand while you play. I'm pretty ecstatic with everything else about this bass so I'm hoping this is just something I'll get used to with time. Thanks![/quote:tjxzrfw7] Please allow me to HIGHLY recommend the "floating thumb" technique. I assure you that I did not learn it from Pai Mei, although he did teach me the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. :lol: If you use the floating thumb technique, you will never again concern yourself with where to anchor your thumb, let alone wearing spots into the finish, or even changing basses having different pickup configurations or number of strings. Check out Todd Johnson's Youtube video demonstration at [url:tjxzrfw7]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPVMBPmrblU[/url:tjxzrfw7] I adopted this technique over 6 years ago, and have never concerned myself with right hand technique ever again. You can check out this thread at Talkbass.com as well, [url:tjxzrfw7]http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f21/floating-thumb-techniqe-230685/[/url:tjxzrfw7], where early in the thread, the exact nature of the technique is differentiated over a number of posts from other techniques such as the floating anchor. Try it for a week or two, you'll be glad you did! Besides the advantages mentioned above, other's include: Being able to play anywhere on the bass (and moving around in mid phrase if you want!) without concern for losing an anchor point; You mute ALL strings behind the one you are currently playing automatically without even thinking about it; You maintain precisely the same level and angle of attack for your picking fingers regardless of which string you are playing. Anchoring in a single place requires your hand to rock back and forth, which changes the angle of attack at each string. Floating the anchor is better, but it still can't mute more than two strings at a time, and you have to place it and remove it as you move.
8 years ago
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#26049
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+1 to the Todd Johnson 'floating thumb', hidden dragon technique.
8 years ago
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#26052
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I alternate between anchoring on the bridge and neck pickups, and sometimes "float" as well. I find that having my arm/hand at an slanted angle like the bridge helps even the attack and tone when I'm playing off of the bridge pickup...rather than having my hand and fingers perpendicular to the strings if that makes any sense. I'm not striking every string at exactly the same distance from the bridge, just splitting the difference more or less....it's something that's naturally evolved over the years I guess.
8 years ago
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#26066
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The Todd Johnson technique looks interesting and I'll definitely give it a shot, but at a glance it doesn't look like it would lend itself to hard rock or metal technique, and that it would be more useful on the upper strings than the B and E. Still, worth a try. Also, I (and I'm not sure what this forum's policy is on obscenity) don't give a (act of sexual intercourse beginning with an "F") about wearing my bass's finish - these are instruments, they're meant to be played! :D So, for those of you who play without a pick and do anchor, it's just a matter of getting used to it? Smallmouth - good call on trying to angle your picking hand a little to match the angle of the bridge, that makes a lot of sense to me.
8 years ago
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#26067
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A few months ago someone explained that floating thumb technique to me. I think it works great for some stuff, but when I need to use my low B a lot it spells trouble. I can play a note or two with my thumb in the air, but not fast intricate riffs. Also sometimes you specifically [i:3a5jn36c]don't[/i:3a5jn36c] want strings to be muted. It's a great technique to practice, but not a cure-all.
8 years ago
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#26068
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eloann - that's my hesitation. I'll definitely give it a try, but remember, I'm a guitarist that plays bass, not primarily a bass soloist player. I definitely spend more of my time on the lower strings than the upper ones, and just watching the guy's hands it appears you have much less stability on the B and E than the A, D, and G.
8 years ago
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#26069
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+1 on the floating-but-resting-on-next-string-up thumb, occasionally resting on point of neck pickup for B and some passages on E and A. I tried to be mindful of what I did last time I played and it seems to depend on whether I'm playing strings that will need muting and therefore which direction across the strings I'm going. So heading down to higher strings is going to require muting the lower ones. Pedalling on E isn't though (as an example). It really does become automatic, same as left-hand muting.
8 years ago
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#26073
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[quote="callum":ojccqefl]+1 on the floating-but-resting-on-next-string-up thumb, occasionally resting on point of neck pickup for B and some passages on E and A. I tried to be mindful of what I did last time I played and it seems to depend on whether I'm playing strings that will need muting and therefore which direction across the strings I'm going. So heading down to higher strings is going to require muting the lower ones. Pedalling on E isn't though (as an example). It really does become automatic, same as left-hand muting.[/quote:ojccqefl] Yeah, right now moving from string to string with my thumb doesn't feel very natural, but I'm sure it's just a matter of building muscle memory. Time to start woodshedding!
8 years ago
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#26085
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[quote="Drew7":1jzojkxw]The Todd Johnson technique looks interesting and I'll definitely give it a shot, but at a glance it doesn't look like it would lend itself to hard rock or metal technique, and that it would be more useful on the upper strings than the B and E. Still, worth a try. Also, I (and I'm not sure what this forum's policy is on obscenity) don't give a (act of sexual intercourse beginning with an "F") about wearing my bass's finish - these are instruments, they're meant to be played! :D So, for those of you who play without a pick and do anchor, it's just a matter of getting used to it? Smallmouth - good call on trying to angle your picking hand a little to match the angle of the bridge, that makes a lot of sense to me.[/quote:1jzojkxw] Absolutely NOT true that the "Todd Johnson" floating thumb technique is not good for rock! That's all I play. I can pluck just as hard as any dude with his fingers all stretched out and hanging from the pickup. And the "perceived" advantage simply does not warrant the macho " who cares if I wear a hole in my top cause I need to f@?!'N rock dude!" Every time I see a hole worn in the top of a beautifully crafted instrument, I shke my head and roll my eyes.
8 years ago
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#26086
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[quote="eloann":71zgzhxm]A few months ago someone explained that floating thumb technique to me. I think it works great for some stuff, but when I need to use my low B a lot it spells trouble. I can play a note or two with my thumb in the air, but not fast intricate riffs. Also sometimes you specifically [i:71zgzhxm]don't[/i:71zgzhxm] want strings to be muted. It's a great technique to practice, but not a cure-all.[/quote:71zgzhxm] I guess I don't play any music where it's a good thing to let unplayed strings ring, unless you're talking about chords and double stops, but then those played strings are all ahead of the thumb. As for playing fast on the last string (E or B), it just takes practice. You don't have to have your thumb anchored to play fast. Usually, to get stabiity if I really need it, I simply drop the heel of my hand to the top of the bass.
8 years ago
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#26087
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Nope, I was talking about sympathetic vibrations. I recently joined an electro-atmospheric-rock band with a few songs that somehow don't feel right played with a clean technique, I need to let some dirt in. That was freaking hard at first. I'm still pretty new to the floating thing, and it is possible to get much more fluent than I am right now. Trying to work on a 3-finger technique [i:2749a641]à la Sheehan[/i:2749a641] combined with floating thumb to see if it can get me where I'd like in terms of speed and consistency.
8 years ago
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#26104
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[quote="BuffaloBob":2trwuoun] Absolutely NOT true that the "Todd Johnson" floating thumb technique is not good for rock! That's all I play. I can pluck just as hard as any dude with his fingers all stretched out and hanging from the pickup. And the "perceived" advantage simply does not warrant the macho " who cares if I wear a hole in my top cause I need to f@?!'N rock dude!" Every time I see a hole worn in the top of a beautifully crafted instrument, I shke my head and roll my eyes.[/quote:2trwuoun] I don't know, man - it seems like a technique really optimized for the upper strings of a bass more so than riffing on the low B and E. It's less about attack (though past a certain point I would imagine an anchored attack has the potential to have a slightly higher max) as it is about stability on the low B. It doesn't seem to be an approach that really lends itself to fast low string riffing, you know? Either way, I've been woodshedding a bit more now that the CFA exam is behind me, and the "anchor on the neck pickup for the low B, one string below for every other string" technique is starting to feel a lot more natural. There are some licks and drills I've tried/come up with that don't seem to lend itself to a pure application of this approach (for example, quickly alternating between the D and G strings) but by and large it seems to be a pretty stable, flexible approach.
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