5 String to making floating easier?

Anyone use a five string so they can float the thumb easier than jumping up from the pickup? I prefer using a pick as I’m coming from guitar and it’s more natural. I’m also learning finger style (through the course) but I don’t like jumping the thumb from the pickup to the strings.


I play a 5 but not for that reason. I’m pretty at home perched on the pickup or the B string, but my basses have soapbars. I also angle my thumb more sideways, and my action is pretty low; I don’t have much height to make up, and since I also rest my thumb on just the edge of the pickup, I can basically just slide across to the string.

I think giving it a little more time/practice/adjustment, you won’t even think about it anymore. I don’t. I had to really think about typing that paragraph, and even grabbed my bass just to see lol. It’s that automatic for me, now.


I much prefer anchored to floating thumb (and always anchor my thumb for fingerstyle, even if just on a string). Then again I mostly pick so this rarely is an issue for me either way.


I use a floating thumb when I’m plucking; I don’t anchor it. I rest my forearm across the top of the bass. The thumb is great for muting the top strings. Top being, above where I’m plucking. Lower strings below where I’m plucking, and get muted with my fretting hand.

Here’s a video on it, though I don’t know this is the best vid. I didn’t follow instructions, it just came naturally when I started to do it.


I always use my thumb to mute the upper strings (of course), that goes without saying. I just don’t float it; I move its anchor, from the pickup when plucking the E, to the E when plucking the A or D, or to the A when pluckng the G. Never turn down free muting :slight_smile:

I also often mute different strings with my anchored thumb and plucking hand pinky; I find this comfortable.

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Thanks for the feedback y’all. While doing the lessons I use my fingers. Maybe the distance from pickup to strings is too much. I set my guitars up with very low action and feel then action on the bass is low. Maybe I should raise the pickups.

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I’ve been playing with a floating thumb from the very beginning of when I learned to play bass on a fiver. It’s all I use now, regardless of whether I’m playing 4 or 5. To me, it’s the most natural way to play, in fact anchoring my thumb is quite awkward to me.

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Makes sense. I was playing this morning and the pick and float is so much more natural. The float doesn’t work when playing the e though. I think I’ll get a 5er and just see. lol

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Works for me; either the the E or the B on a fiver or my BEAD bass. You just have to learn how to do it. It comes easy with practice.

Yup, it just happened with me. Seems very natural, takes no focus

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I float all the time on my Kala uBass as it’s acoustic and has no pickup to hangout on. It takes practice and repetition until you don’t even notice. I once considered getting a thumb rest to mount on it, now I don’t think about it.

I was over thinking it. Went back and lightly rested my wrist on the bass and boom that was it. But I still want a 5 string lol.

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Something about the ergonomics, I just don’t like floating thumb compared to anchoring on a string or pup. Which may be odd as I play mostly pick and don’t anchor at all with it of course, but for fingerstyle, that’s just what I like.

Same muting control as with floating thumb (maybe more as I use my pinky kind of subconsciously too), just much more confortable for me.

Kind of funny how you can find your own style and roll with it.

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See? Knew you could do it!

And extended range basses are fun and imo easy to learn once you know things, because @JoshFossgreen taught us how to find the notes, so… just find the lower notes. You already know the 5th fret on the 5th/B string is E… So, Eb, D, Db, C, open B. Easy peasy :smile:

Scale shapes work, too!

Or say, take the G Major scale. You go up, you come down, and your middle finger is on that 3rd fret of the 4th/E string. Index finger is ready to go on that 2nd fret Gb/F#, you can open string the next E then drop to the 3rd fret on the 5th/B string for the D, 1st fret C, and an open B is as far down as you go. You can do a 5th fret E if you want to as well. It’s only a partial scale, but it opens up more basslines in a given key.

I love my 5 string basses and like to do different octaves on some of the workouts if I can, just for extra practice. A 6 string opens up even more range in a single position. 7 and 8 string basses are simply for gods among us mere mortals, though, imo, or basketball players :rofl: (teasing. But I think a 7 is definitely too much for me to handle, unless it’s that ultra-rare Ibanez 7 with guitar string-spacing…)

I play floating thumb on 4, 5, and 6. I don’t see any need to change my technique for any one bass when it’s an effective technique.

I anchor, but the hard part is not putting weight on the anchor thumb. Work on string crossing drills and either technique will work for you.

I use both depending on what sound I want and how im playing but I prefer movable anchor and I pretty much always use that on 4 string. With movable anchor, you can get a more thumpy sound with rest strokes, with floating anchor you use more of a free stroke that gives less thump. On 5 string, I usually use movable anchors from B-D and float for the G or any time I need quick transitions between strings or really fast 16th notes. I find that floating is easier and takes much less thought/effort but that often lead to me being lazy with my right hand technique.

I do also use my right hand ring and pinky for muting when required, especially with a lot of open strings.

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Usually when people say something “feels awkward” it just means they haven’t done it enough for it to become comfortable :slight_smile:


I too anchor on the pup of my 5-string, and occasionally fail to make the smooth reach up to the G and occasionally D. I stopped reading here to reply, however, bc while my fretting and plucking is nice and mellow, my anchored thumb is taking quite a bruising. Clearly, I’m resting a lot of weight on that anchor point… could be why I don’t like floating, actually. Hmmm…

I noticed last night that while my thumb might “rest” on the pickup, it’s more like it just touches it for lack of a better place to go. As I cross strings and it “rests” on strings again, it’s more like just touching them as part of muting. There’s not much more pressure than that.