Plucking in different areas: getting used to moving the thumb/hand

Since I started learning bass two months ago, I’ve only been resting my thumb on the neck pickup or on the E string right by the neck pickup. Today I tried playing closer to the bridge pickup, because I was reading about different positions for certain songs to sound a particular way and I was experimenting with the knobs too. It felt so weird and I was messing everything up. It’s like the other day where I tried an acoustic and instantly went to rest my thumb on the non-existent pickup.

It’s similar to practicing sitting down then when you stand up it all feels different, so from the start I made sure to practice sitting then often repeat what I’m doing standing.

I guess perhaps I should be doing the same when it comes to playing closer to the neck or bridge pickups, so I don’t lock myself in to one position?


As you only started bass two month ago, I wouldn’t bother too much about plucking in different areas. It will be easier to try different ways of playing once you are comfortable with the basics.
Of course, you can always try different approaches to plucking, but from my personal experience, it will be pretty easy to acquire new technique even if you started out with resting your thumb on the pickup (and strings at pickup position).


It would be awesome if there’s only one way to play a bass. Sadly no.

There are tons of way to do that and we, Bazzo get to discover that little by little for the rest of our days. Ain’t life grand.


You can make the adjustment any time if you feel it’s something you want in your arsenal.


+1 to this, and the better and more comfortable you are at playing somewhere on the bass, the more you’ll be able to adjust without confusing / muddying the waters of what you can already do.


That goes for you choice of bass as well.

There are certain basses out there I dont feel comfortable playing only due to the position of the pickup/thumb rest. Plucking further down near the bridge is not for me right now.


Oh, try going the other way too! Resting your thumb on the side of the neck. :grinning::+1:


I thought that was just me. I find myself doing that without thinking about it. I thought it was bad and have been focused on not doing it. I’ve never seen anyone play like that and i figured it was bad form.


I learned a song on SBL, “September Leaves”…Scott’s take on an old jazz standard. He recommended big fat notes from playing at the neck or on the neck. And…it worked. The biggest fattest notes to be found on my bass were with my thumb resting on the beginning of the neck (that little ledge near the neck pocket). The notes bloomed and sounded really great for that song.


It’s definitely useful to be able to play anywhere from the bridge to up over the fretboard. If you’re playing something like jazz and you want an upright sort of sound, it helps to play up over the finger/fretboard. If you’re playing something like a Jaco Pastorius piece and you want that honky jazz bass sound you can play close to the bridge. It’s handy to know how to palm mute and play with your thumb too, but they’re not things that you HAVE to learn if you’re not already very comfortable with your left and right hand technique. It’s one of those things that may feel a bit awkward until you do it enough to get used to it. The strings are stiffer near the bridge so that changes the feel of playing too.

My fretless bass has a finger ramp which gives a lot of flexibility to where you play and keeps the feeling consistent.


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In this video of Jaco Pastorius playing “The Chicken” you can see (and hear) him alternating his playing over the bridge and neck pickups.

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