Thumb on the Low E?

From one of Josh’s lessons, we are required to skip the A string to hit F on the D-string. From this lesson, I found that I could use my fretting hand thumb to play the low F on the E-string before the quick jump.

Does anyone else do this?
Is it a big no-no for beginners? I do it because it is faster than moving my index or middle finger.

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Hail @AcidAssasin!
In general, using the thumb of the fretting hand to do any fretting is a ‘rare-and-extreme-circumstance-only’ situation.

It is a big no-no not just for beginners, but for all levels.
It pulls the fretting hand too far out of usable, flexible positions.
Also, the string jump across the A string is something that you’ll be asked to do in all sorts of lines and situations. You’ll need to develop and get comfortable with a way to do it that leaves your thumb behind the neck.

Holler with any questions, and best of luck!

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in my opinion it’s more something like a hack, than a playing technique.

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I see guitarist fret with the thumb, but that’s a different game than with the bass.

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Davie504 does this regularly. Much as I would love to hate him for his stupid internet personality I think he’s my favorite player.

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Ha!
I really don’t know the internet world of players very well.
I’m pretty familiar with the world of working, touring and gigging musicians.
It’s very different.
The thumb as a fretting tool is something I have never seen live. I did it to pull of some wild arrangement ideas in one song one time.

YouTube video makers are like action heroes
It’d be like - hey, I was taking a corner in my car, and my car didn’t go up on just two wheels. Should I be up on two wheels? I’ve been watching lots of videos where drivers take turns with drifts, or on two wheels. Is that normal?

Tapping, solo version of songs, playing 7 million miles an hour, ripping incredible solos… these are all fun to do - like dodging machine gun bullets, and killing all the bad guys, and jumping from building to building. It’s cool and - most importantly - it’s impressive and fun to watch.
They just don’t really come up in day to day practice / profession / performance and I think that opening the door to extremely specific, unorthodox and situational technique ideas is a mistake if the goal is to build a strong foundation on the instrument.

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oh i definitely think it’s bad technique that shouldn’t be learned (you can see some of it below). he self taught himself and has some interesting (ahem) techniques, he also does a weird thing with his right hand where he anchors his finger on the pickguard when slapping. it obviously works for him. but damn if he doesn’t just hit the groove along with all the flashy youtube technique stuff.

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Good stuff! Thanks for the vid.

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Louis Johnson did it and I’m not about to tell anyone he was wrong. But also I wouldn’t recommend working on the technique until you’re a more intermediate player.


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I’ve tried it LJ-style and it really didn’t work for my hands, ergonomically. Need bigger hands :slight_smile:

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Ha!
Louis Johnson is a co-author of the Bible of Slap. (If there is one). As a slap deity, he has a free pass for everything.

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He had instructions by a teacher for a year if I remember correctly. To quote or at least paraphrase him: “I had a teacher to show me the correct hand position and stuff like that”. Not that I want to disagree with you because even if he learned basic fingerstyle with a teacher I agree that most of his stuff is self-taught as he usually learns songs by listening to them instead of looking up notes or tabs - I saw a video on his girlfriends channel.

After listening to a song one time (with bass in hand to try out some phrases) he can play it afterwards! Very impressive, but can you…

Another thing I want to mention, @itsratso, is his newest video: Someone challenged him to just play bass without talking. Like in his earlier videos. Thought you might enjoy :slight_smile:

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yeah, i get that you have to have a big dumb gimmick on youtube, but i would be willing to bet that he’s getting sick of the act himself. but damn can he play.

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Perhaps they are using the thumb to mute the E string?

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it’s not the same thing, there is nothing wrong by using the thumb to mute the E/D string in my opinion. at least I always do it.

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That’s something that I want to play around with, I think it’s probably easier if you have bigger hands (I know I know no excuse, don’t flame me). Or maybe it just feels strange and you need to get used to it.

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Fully agree.
I use my thumb quite often - particularly with slap - to mute the E string / B string - whatever old string you’ve got down there.
And - to reiterate @terb - it’s very different than playing and fretting with the thumb.

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yeah and if ever there are full newbies who read all this, we can precise that when we talk about E, D, B string … we in fact refer to the same entity which is “the lowest pitched string” on a bass, depending on the number of strings and tuning. just to be clear, if needed.

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LOL yeah, thumb-fretting the E string on a 5 - not happening for me :slight_smile: