Anchor or floating thumb?

Which do you all prefer? I’ve always been more comfortable with the floating thumb technique since it allows me to more or less maintain the same hand “shape” regardless of the string I’m plucking. I’ve tried practicing more recently with my thumb anchored to the pickup when plucking the E/A strings, and the E string when plucking the D/G strings. Curious what you all prefer.


First of all, welcome @nicolasptrsn ! Come on over to this thread and introduce yourself! :slight_smile:

I’ve been playing around with this a bit. I like the idea of floating thumb and all the muting goodness that comes with it. I’m just really used to having an anchor and it feels like, for lack of a better way to describe it, I don’t have any power in my fingers without something to anchor on.

So I’ve been doing movable anchor, moving the anchored thumb between pickup, E, and A strings. I think string switching is a bit faster with floating thumb, but I just can’t get used to not having an anchor.


I’m a beginning bass player and experimenting with floating thumb vs anchor…so far anchoring my thumb on the E and A string has my preference because it gives me a better feeling where I am with my plucking hand , if that makes sense…

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I’ve been playing for two years. I anchor my thumb on the pickup, E or A string. I’ve tried floating thumb but I can’t pluck the E string without anchoring my thumb :slight_smile:

There have been many threads on the forum about anchoring versus floating thumbs. The short recap is: Do what works best for you; there is no wrong answer.

Personally, I signed up for B2B to learn how to finger pluck bass. As a fingerstyle guitarist (the thumb is in constant use and never anchored), anchoring my thumb felt totally weird. Still, I went through the course using an anchored thumb. But when I play for myself, I forego anchoring and use the much more natural-feeling (for me) floating thumb.

Keep in mind that there are at least three distinct thumb positions: permanently anchored (on pickup, for example); alternating strings anchored (e.g., on pickup for open E, on E, and on A); and “true floating thumb” (no classic thumb-tip anchoring; using the side of the thumb to mute strings).

Ease of playability and consistency are the goals of using your thumb to finger pluck. Use whichever method that makes you a better player.


Mike nailed it. The right answer is whatever you feel comfortable with. Often times your decision on where to anchor or whether to anchor at all will depend on the piece you’re playing.

Personally I don’t really anchor my thumb on the pickups. That puts my fingers in a position I don’t feel comfortable with and feels too far away from my strings. I try to keep my plucking hand as static as possible and only move it when I need to. When I play my E string my thumb is touching the pickup but it’s barely above my E string so when I need to move down I only have to drop my thumb a very short distance to anchor on the E. Only time I move my thumb to the A is if I have a lot of notes to play on the G


I use movable anchor most of the time and floating thumb sometimes when playing faster passages between strings or on 5 string. I never use fixed anchor because it sucks :joy:

I tried the floating thumb but it didn’t work for me.

If I’m playing the E string my thumb is anchored in the pickup. I move my thumb up to the E string for the A, D and G (occasionally moving up to the A).

After years of playing this way my muscle memory is such that I never have to look at my plucking hand.

By feel I know where I am and how far I have to move my fingers to pluck the appropriate string.

Floating thumb never gave me the same feeling.


I’m with @MikeC take. Also different basses offer different “touching” position with their pickup configurations.

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At this point I am going to just not pigeonhole myself in to any style of plucking. I do what I do that makes sense at the time. Mostly these days I pick. When I do fingerstyle, I like to have an anchor, but sometimes I don’t. It all depends on the instrument and situation.

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Well since you are new and everything is difficult it doesn’t hurt to check out Gary Willis method. I spent a few months on it but I’ve doing the other way for so long plus I’m a very slow learner too, :joy:

The bonus of Gary’s method is the muting. You don’t have to worry about that anymore.


Great thread topic! I’m about a third of the way into B2B and have struggled a little with the same.

I found when I anchor the thumb I tend to press to hard with it. Anchoring for some reason causes me to have more tension in my plucking hand.

As an exercise I began playing floating thumb and I’m finding my plucking hand more relaxed. Now I practice both in a practice session and find one helps the other. Anchoring helps me keep my hand position as I move up and down strings. Floating keeps me relaxed. I imagine I’ll eventually just float but having comfort with both may lead to naturally switching without noticing.

I also practice “thumbless” fretting to relax my fretting hand. I find that more of a training exercise to not press hard with my thumb on back of the neck. It helps when I return to using my thumb.

I usually keep my thumb on pickup for E and A string, put it on the A String for D and G. But I don’t neccesarily stick to it as a rule. Depends on the song lately, Sometimes I find it easier to be more mobile with the plucking hand.

I have a nasty habit of anchoring TOO hard, either on pickup or a string, which makes for discomfort on the thumb and reduced dexterity in plucking fingers, but I am gettig gmuch better with that.

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Floating thumb for me. I like having my thumb help mute strings or I’m using my thumb when it comes to octaves.
Same hand position regardless of 4,5 or 6 string playing.


I started with anchored thumb and it just seems intuitive to me with it on the pickup, E or A string. There’s the odd time I let it float for a few notes but mostly anchored. I’m sure whichever way feels best & works for someone would be fine. I struggle with my fretting hand/fingers and not the plucking hand/fingers.

I use a thumb rest and I feel lost without one. I always park my thumb in a certain area when I start a song. However, I’m noticing recently that I come off the thumb rest and move around while playing. I never thought about it, I just happened to notice it the other day when I went to “reset” my thumb to the original starting position between songs.

So I guess my thumb rest is like Linus’ blanky :grin: I’m glad it’s there either way.