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Thumb rests, what am I missing here?


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This may be a really dumb question but why don't more basses have thumb rests on them?

 

I am getting much more into bass recently and I find myself anchoring my plucking hand by having my thumb on the top of a pickup, which kind of only gives me two spots, one at each pickup.

I know I could rest on the lowest string when not playing it but that doesn't seem efficient as I have to move off when I am playing it.

 

I feel like if I put a rail above the pickups going from close to the bridge up to the neck I could anchor my hand anywhere, have a much more supported plucking hand and be able to adjust position much more easily, but basses don't have this as a feature. Is there something inherently wrong with having a long rest, or something in technique I'm missing?

 

I'd appreciate any guidance people may have to offer/

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Posted (edited)
48 minutes ago, OliverBlackman said:

It’s much better to learn the floating thumb technique for muting than relying on a rest. 

This. 

 

Anchoring the thumb is not just bad for muting it's not best for the wrist either, and may eventually send you to the carpal tunnel doctor. 

Keep those wrists straight guys.

Edited by TheLowDown
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I personally can't stand them, so different strokes etc I expect. I can't stand the way they look, especially the really long ones you get on quite high end basses, and I can't stand the feel of them. I fitted one to a jazz bass once and hated it, it felt quite restrictive.

 

Then I play my Jack Casady and my hand slips all over the bass, if only there was just something to grip... 🤔

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I've never felt the need for one personally. In fact I think a thumb rest would just get in the way and annoy me. When playing the lowest string my hand is free floating, when playing on any other string my thumb is either resting on the string below, or floating / muting the strings below. I don't know if this is considered poor or good technique. It's not something I've ever particularly thought about or practiced. It's just the way I naturally play. 

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8 hours ago, OliverBlackman said:

It’s much better to learn the floating thumb technique for muting than relying on a rest. 

I’m sure it is…

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They're always too far away from the strings to my taste, and never in the spot where I want to pluck.

I really should get more acquainted with the floating thumb technique. 

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Thanks for the responses, definitely given me something to think on.

 

I'm very aware of carpal issue but am fairly good at keeping the wrist relaxed and fairly straight.

I think I will put a long (but low) rest on the bass I'm building and see how it goes. Watching myself play more carefully I move the whole hand across when I go to the g string and tend to rest my thumb on a.

Having said that I think that maybe it's something I won't need/want in the longer term.

 

 

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I likes a thumbrest, for finger playing, and up by the neck... don't get in the way if ya want yo pick... not comfy with the floating method, after years of palm resting guitar playing.

Tend to rest my thumb facing along the neck, rather than in to the body...

If not i'll rest my thumb on the end of the fret board rather than rearward on a pickup...

Some of my basses have em, some not..

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I have ‘em on a few basses. My JMJ mustang even came with one in the right place. I also fitted them to some basses on the treble side, but that’s more an affectation to be vintage correct rather than for practical use as I never use those as a tug bar.

 

Can anyone briefly outline the finer points of the floating thumb technique? Or is it just a fancy name for playing without a thumb rest?

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6 hours ago, Jean-Luc Pickguard said:

I have ‘em on a few basses. My JMJ mustang even came with one in the right place. I also fitted them to some basses on the treble side, but that’s more an affectation to be vintage correct rather than for practical use as I never use those as a tug bar.

 

Can anyone briefly outline the finer points of the floating thumb technique? Or is it just a fancy name for playing without a thumb rest?

In a way yes it just means you play without a thumb rest. But it has specific advantages the most visible and from my point of view helpful is that as the thumb floats up and down it can mute the strings you are not playing

 

 

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I find it best not to ask my right hand too many questions as to what it's up to, I only seem to put it off if I get too nosey, but as far as I can make out, the thumb lies gently on the body, muting the E string except when it's in use. I don't know how heretical this is in terms of technique, but I know my right hand feels lovely and relaxed. 

 

(How the fingers are going about their work muting the other strings, heaven knows)

 

Random thought: the length of a thumb in proportion to the fingers varies greatly from person to person. Presumably this has a bearing on how comfortable or otherwise a thumb rest is?

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After playing with thumb anchored for many years, I was shown the benefit of a floating thumb. I straighten my wrist relax my entire hand a bit and it feels great. You do have to figure out the muting, but it’s an easy adjustment.

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On 20/05/2022 at 08:20, Random Guitarist said:

This may be a really dumb question but why don't more basses have thumb rests on them?

Why do any basses have them? I've never needed or wanted one.

Ditto for learning correct floating thumb.

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I don't need them, so I don't have 'em. On the side of the pickup when playing the lowest string is fine for me.

 

Also I don't wander around the length of the strings looking for changes in tone that not one bugger listening to the band is going to notice. I'm a lazy neanderthal bass player, more power to you technicians.

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I play a fair bit with the thumb but I’ve never used the rest, quite a few basses I’ve had already had them fitted, I think sometimes it’s there because it’s period correct like the 62RI jazzes 

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