Is it necessary to use your thumb on your plucking hand?

Hi, I am new to playing the bass and new to the forum. I am a new convert to the bass from the guitar. I changed in part due to an injury to my thumb on my plucking hand. Resting my thumb on a pickup or low string is fine - no problems there. However I have seen a lot of players use their thumb to pluck the E string etc. when playing. I can’t do this (moving my thumb up and down is difficult - weird injury I know)… Will I still be able to become a good player if I do not use my thumb? I guess I just don’t want to waste my time if I eventually will need to incorporate my thumb into my playing. Thanks for any advice.

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Welcome to the forum @Jmbern1

The thumb is not necessary, but it comes in handy occasionally. Don’t fret it though, you can become a bass badass without using your thumb.

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I do not think that this will be a hinderance. There is a technique video by BassBuzz covering various techniques and most use only the thumb for a rest on the string or the pick up. You should be able to advance fine.

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As you probably know, the unanimous choice for greatest bassist in history, James Jamerson only played with ONE finger. And it wasn’t his thumb :+1:

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Welcome aboard @Jmbern1,
Enjoy the ride,
I don’t use my thumb, it a personal choice any style works👍
Create your own and it will sound good😎
Cheers Brian

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The only thing I use thumb on my right hand for is muting, and that’s the easiest job on that hand. The other fingers are jealous.

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Thanks for the responses. Nice to hear that it is necessary. The injury has been a real bummer and it’s why I needed to stop the guitar. However the bass seems possible, and I love the sound!

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I see a bad ass bass player in the works!

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I was a convert from Guitar to Bass, but not because of an injury, directly.
It was actually about 20 years that had passed when I picked up a bass after last playing guitar. I actually wanted to play bass, rather then guitar this time around, I almost played bass 20 years ago, but my best friend already played and had invested in a bass and amp and I was just starting so I went guitar.
Well, I love the bass, and I am using it to explore music much further then I ever did on guitar, not that I could not have done so on guitar, but 20 years Ago I was a young buck that just wanted to play the cool licks, just enough to make some noise, now I take it more seriously, and I think you will have a great transition from guitar to bass.

Like others have said, I almost never use my thumb for anything but an anchor and / or for muting.
I do like to slap the bass some, and I use my thumb for that, but otherwise, I am a finger player, I don’t use a pick, and my thumb is my anchor.
I do practice floating thumb technique, which is to rest your thumb on the string above where you are plucking. So if I am plucking the G string, My thumb is on my D string, and if plucking my D string, my thumb is on my A string and if plucking my A string, my thumb is on my E string. if playing my E string, then I am on the pick up, or resting on the body, depending on which bass I am playing.
Floating thumb is not exact all the time, I could have my thumb on the E string and pluck the D string, or on the A string and pluck the D and G string, it all depends on what I am playing at the time.
Does this sound like something. you can do with your injured thumb.
If you can, awesome, it will help with muting a lot, and if you can not, don’t worry, you can make up for it elsewhere.

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Same here (though I use a pick quite a bit). I use my thumb mostly for anchoring and muting, neither of which require the thumb. Specifically, never ever plucking.

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same, pick and alternate finger plucking with the thumb used as an anchor point, but there is an interesting use for the thumb as a plucking finger, especially when playing arpegios or power chords (two strings : root + 5th).

nothing is mandatory but I strongly encourage to try and learn different techniques.

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Ahh yeah, as an alternative to strumming chords that would work well I bet.

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But he has a thumb injury that prevents him from using it for strumming, this is why he asked the question if he can be a good player without plucking / strumming capabilities in his thumb.

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FWIW for strumming I always use my fingernails, even if I am playing with a pick. I don’t actually strum much at all myself though, only when practicing a couple songs (most notably Love Will Tear Us Apart).

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yeah my answer was more general

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Thanks for the answers. Yes, specifically I am not able to really use my thumb too much. Things like alternate picking (which is what I liked to do on guitar) I cannot do. I just brought this up because I have seem some videos (for example Josh Fosgreen when he is doing improvising) when it seems he is almost alternate picking or at least using the thumb to pick the E string. I won’t be able to do this. Type of thing. It essentially needs to be pretty much planted. However I have tried floating it an
d just resting it on top of the strings. This seems ok however I seem to have more control if it is just anchoring on the E string…

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That will work, and you will probably gain more control with practice if you want to float. it is helpful, but again, not necessary, you could still play well with it anchored on the pick up.

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I actually prefer anchoring mine on strings more than floating. It’s fien if you want to just anchor it.

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Welcome to the community @Jmbern1! I concur with everyone here. My thumb helps me mute and anchors my hand.

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I’m just the opposite; I’ve been floating my thumb for so long, if I even try playing with it anchored I’m like a beginner all over again.

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