Resting Thumb on Strings

I have an issue with my right thumb. When I first played bass over 30 years ago I rested/anchored my right thumb only on the pickup and mostly muted the lower strings with my right pinky and ring finger if needed.
Now I am really struggling with moving it across the strings to rest esp. when playing on D and G.
I am looking for exercises to move it correctly. Any hints?

Longterm muscle memory, I condemn you (for now)!


Here’s a simple, cool idea.

Start on the 5th fret of E string with the first finger of your fretting hand.
Be prepared to play the 7th fret of the A string and the 7th fret of the D string.
(the fifth and the octave of your low note (A) if that helps)

Decide on a two-bar rhythm that’s comfortable and PERFECTLY playable with your right hand.

Whole notes (one per bar) Half Notes (two per bar) Quarter Notes (4 per bar, like a walking bass line) or Eighth Notes (8 per bar).

Play two bars on the E string.
Then shift to play the 7th fret of the A string - same rhythm.

The idea is to have a simple move for your fretting hand, and focus everything on your plucking hand and trying to move your thumb from the pickup (when you strike the E string) to the E string (when you strike the A string)

Then do this exact thing again, but go from E string to A string to D string, moving the thumb anchor each time.

Go super slow.

I’d love to make a video for this, but I don’t have the time currently.
Hope this helps! Holler with any questions.


I’ll give it a try. Thanks a lot!


Added to my practice routine. Feels weird, but I think it‘s just a matter of time.

Thanks again!


Thank you! Exactly the same problem I’m having and getting so hung up about it to the point I’m not moving forward with anything else! I’ll give it a try! Any other suggestions happy to receive. Shaun


The only suggestion I have is to not worry about it, unless it is an impediment to your playing. Some people anchor their thumb on the pickup, and - because they are playing stiffly or have short fingers - have trouble crossing to the D and G strings.

If this is you, take the time to work your way across the bass like I outlined above. You can even do it with open strings. That would be a great exercise.

If you feel like you can make it to each string easily and comfortably but are worried about not “doing it right” because your thumb isn’t moving with your hand… maybe don’t worry about it?


That’s great feedback and food for thought. No, I have good long fingers and have no issues reaching all strings and have really developed good speed, timing with the thumb on the pick up. However I do get some issues with the A string ringing sympathetically. So with the perception that “I’m not doing it right” and the above felt I should try to change my technique. Sounds cool, but really hard to “unlearn” what my right hand has been doing for years. Thanks for this feedback Gio, do appreciate it heaps!,


I use floating thumb technique. Were your thumb rest above the string your playing. My bass teacher Recommended this technique since my string were ringing . Alot. May anchor on pickup when im on E string but floats on all others.


Hey Gio,
Some feedback for you and thanks. Every night since your suggestion have been working the problem. Easier to change my habits than I thought…now transitioning from pick up to E to A and a bit of floating thumb (thanks BigAl!) Almost without (but not quite) thought. Sounds so much better and much less fatigue in the hand. Next project once this is muscle memory is working the pick technique! Thanks to both of you!