BtB - I made it as far as Module 8 Lesson 1


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Thanks @Barney , this is very encouraging for me that you hit the rewind and started again, especially having seen one or two videos of you playing.

However, I’ll never be able to look at my metronome the same again! :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


Thanks @joergkutter .

I like to keep my thumb anchored on the pick-up; leaving it on the string below where I’m plucking on BtB is the one piece of Josh’s tuition that I’ve ignored. For some reason I cannot get comfortable with my thumb anchored, say, on the E string when playing the A. It feels weird and messes with my head.

At the moment, I’m messing about with any music I like the sound of but my favourites are metal, hard rock and old school punk, which can be a bit hard and aggressive. All I need to do now is learn to play :man_facepalming:


I find this, too. Max half an hour, go do something else for a bit and then back to bass. It makes quite a difference. Nothing is fun when you spend too long at it.

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And that’s OK. Anchoring the thumb on the string below is only one way if doing this. Some people also use a floating thumb that “hovers” to the side of the plucking fingers.

In that case, playing with a pick could be a valid option for you. However, it is always a good idea to also be able to play fingerstyle.


I’ve been told before that as long as my thumb is anchored, then it doesn’t really matter where.

I actually enjoy plucking. I tried a pick just for shiggles a couple of weeks ago. It didn’t sound good at all and was also quite alien.

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You are absolutely welcome.
Please check in here as you go and let us know how it goes, and what helps in the quest for the ultimate plucking technique! (Curious teachers want to know!)


This was something I mentioned here about the Billie Jean lesson. Not meaning to offend anyone then or now. I know it’s exciting and we all “myself included” want to get to the next lesson and keep learning. But my advice is don’t ever get to the next lesson without mastering the previous one. I just got to lesson 7 and learned the C major scale. That was three weeks ago and I’m practicing that scale moving it up the fretboard and down the strings to practice it. And the Gospel run Josh taught. When I can do these without effort then I’ll move on. Just saying don’t get into big hurry. Focus skill and progress and not finishing the course. If I remember Josh taught in one of his videos when plucking strings you always end up touching the string above after plucking a string. This helps to mute the vibration. If you can’t you’ll need to mute it with the left hand somehow. I think you made a great decision. It shows you want to master this, not learn it. There is a difference.


This thread got me paying much closer attention to right hand position and the mechanics of plucking. The difference in tone is surprising. To a point, the straighter my fingers, the better the tone.


Hey Paul, getting discouraged comes with learning most things. I hear you on this problem as I’m an old guy, who ingrained some bad habits decades ago when i started “hacking at the bass” on my own. However, some of what your saying doesn’t seem right…

I understand wanting to restart in an effort to correct a problem, but it seems that you plucking problem has absolutely nothing to do with the BtB lessons that you’ve been learning. I mean, if you’ve been able to successfully master the slow workouts, then you’ve got the main point of that lesson. That’s why Josh is always saying it’s okay to move forward “if you’ve nailed the slow workout, and then come back for the medium and fast ones at a later time”.

To me, it’s tempting to restart, but then again, if i were running a marathon and tripped and fell down, i wouldn’t go all the way back to the start. People would call me crazy, and they’d be right!

All that said, some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten, regarding learning & practicing new skills is this: Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.

Your muscle memory is running the show with plucking. Retraining it will be tough, but not impossible. Slow way down. Stay there. It’ll feel like it takes forever. Keep at it. Play to a metronome or drum track. Increase your speed by 2 bpm at a time when you feel ready. If you mess up more than a couple times in a row, slow it back down and repeat. Spend just 5 minutes at a time doing this. It’s longer than you think. Do it as many times in a day as you can fit in, but don’t rush it. Be deliberate in every motion and your practice itself.

The good news is, if you can get your plucking sorted a bit, some of those ringing notes and overtones will also go away.

Whew, that was a lot of text! But, hopefully it helps. It’s the one method that I’ve been able to successfully use to help get rid of bad habits/techniques. Make no mistake, I’m still a noob (an older than dirt Noob) but this process helps when nothing else does.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint!
Best wishes Paul!


@Gio Ok, I was at my local guitar store on Saturday and I was plucking away for over an hour with my own bass whilst test driving a headphone amp and a normal amp. As well as general messing about, I took my iPad and did a couple of BtB early lessons.

As per your advice, I kept the lower joint of my plucking fingers as straight as I could and I hit the string below 99.9% of the time. It was a little weird at first but as time wore on, it got easier to the point that it felt normal when I did a couple of lessons yesterday. I’m going to continue with this method because it 100% works for me.

Thank you again :+1:


Some good advice there, thank you.

I take your point on tripping and re-starting a marathon. However, having gone back to the beginning on BtB and taking @Gio 's advice above, it’s falling into place for me. It’s slow progress (I’m old too and I have very little spare time in the week to practice) but it’s coming; the string ring is rapidly decreasing and I’m hitting the lower strings consistently. I want to re-master all the previous exercises with the lower knuckles on my plucking fingers straight.

I invested in a decent metronome last month and I was using it to get myself up to speed with Billie Jean. When I’m playing with different stuff and not BtB, I’ll give your advice a go and speed up by 2 bpm at a time - that sounds like a good plan and it also sounds very achievable.

Indeed there is a difference and that’s exactly where my head is at.

Anchoring or floating the thumb on a lower string helps to mute unplayed strings.

If you anchor your thumb solely on the pickup and have no unplayed strings ringing out, then you’re good to go. But many, if not most, players can’t do that, which is why anchoring/float-touching unplayed strings is a successful, preferred technique.

Going forward, choose a teacher and follow that person’s advice. You can always alter their tutelage to suit your personal playing style later. But going with “I’ve been told before…” is not necessarily a winning strategy to best learn to play an instrument well.


@MikeC I’ve tried the anchoring on floating strings and I end up getting into a mess. Sticking solely to the pick up works the best for me, because that’s the way I was initially taught when I had face to face lessons over 20 years ago.

Some plucking techniques work better for playing certain music genres.

At the end of the day, the best we players can do is use the technique that works best for the music we play. If yours works for you, that’s all that counts.


Love to hear this!
So glad it’s helping.
All the best to you on the long, enjoyable road ahead.


Do you do some plucking only practice, ie just plucking, no fretting of notes? I’ve done that in the past with bass and guitar when my plucking / pick hand is not behaving as I’d like.

This allows you to focus on just a single action.


@iDuncan No, I haven’t tried that yet but I can’t see it doing any harm. I guess it’s the sort of thing I could do whilst watching football where I don’t have to concentrate quite as hard as when I’m practicing properly :+1:

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“It has to do with what joint on your hand does the main motion.
You want it to come from the knuckle. The knuckle will move the whole finger.
That’s good - that’ll get you the follow through.

The tendency is for the movement to come from the next joint down, like you’re curling your finger into your palm. That’s wrong, and will result in plucks that don’t follow through and don’t dig in for the big bass tone.” —Gio

Such a helpful description! Thanks! I believe I will benefit from this as well!