Thumb pressure

Hi, I’ve been taking the course for about a month, getting better with dexterity and stretching the left hand, but still can’t help but put pressure on the thumb. Is this something that will improve over time? And if there is discussion about this elsewhere on the form if somebody can provide the link it would be appreciated. I am on module six right now.


Don’t worry, totally normal, I think most of us go through this.

Good advice in this thread when I asked the same thing :slight_smile:


Ariane has just posted this which might give you some ideas.

About a month ago I noticed that I had started to bend / arch my thumb which I picked out after seeing this - Fretting: Left Hand Bass Technique (Part 1 of 3) | StudyBass - YouTube - It has taken some time to undo this habit but I’m finding I have much better reach without any strain on my thumb.


I am certainly guilty of using way too much thumb pressure and I was actually thinking about this very issue last night. As Howard has said I’m sure it will improve over time but it is something I am very conscious of at the moment.


The tips in the thread I linked worked well for me. At the start of each practice/jam session, start by playing a little without using your thumb at all, and also start each day by playing a game seeing just how softly you can fret and still get no buzz. Do each a few times before getting in to the session.

I still grip a lot in fast playing but it’s much better now than it was. It’s one of those things like flying fingers - you can’t just decide to work on it in isolation until it’s fixed; that won’t work well (or at least it didn’t for me.) You just need to practice normally, focusing on not doing it when you notice you are starting to do it doing it, and over time it gets better.

Slowing down helps too. For me it is usually a sign I am playing beyond my level.


I’ll give it a go for sure @howard :+1:
And yes a lot of things go sideways when I’m trying to play along with some of my favourite songs . But it’s soooooo tempting at times :crazy_face:


I too was experiencing some pain from this.
Then it got really bad when I did a 4-5 day stretch of 4-6 hours a day getting really into learning a song.

At the end of those days, my thumb hurt bad, and extended into hand, wrist and forearm pain…

The song I was learning had a lot of halftone string bends in it, and is dependent in its main riff on string walking hammer ones, which I do by fretting on the 5th fret across E, A and D, hammering on 7th fret.

E5 hammer E7
A5 hammer A7
Bridging the finger and squeezing a death grip with my thumb was the worst part, the string bends added to it, but it was bad enuf to hurt while trying to sleep at night.

My thumb felt useless to do anything, open a jar, open a ziplock bag, anything when first useing it in the morning. Getting less stiff during the day.

I tried to play that day, and it stopped hurting enuf to play for an hour or so, but then hurt bad again.
Thinking some is muscle pain, like going to the gym, it would go away. A few days later, forcing myself to play, it stayed bad, to the point I had to not play for a few days.

That hurt more then playing thru pain, so stupid me kept playing, but only for short spells throughout the day, and I started playing WITHOUT MY THUMB.

This turns out to have been a great choice. My hand and thumb are almost back to normal, and my hand strength has improved.

So much that I can pretty much play the riff without my thumb at all.
It is more comfortable to use my thumb, but when used lightly, combined with techniques I learned from going thumbless, it is really much easier, and sounds better too.
I am going to watch what others posted, and follow other techniques they may teach, or do the excercises they may suggest, I am ever learning, but…

I would suggest anybody to try to practice without using your thumb for a little bit here and there. I have found that it did wonders for me.

I in fact forced myself to learn and play a whole song this way.
I learned and played thru Black Sabbath’s Paranoid.
Granted it’s a lot of right hand chugging, with only a little bit of left hand position changes and fingering, but it’s not as easy as you would think, Until it is.

Then to go back and play it with the added ease and control you get from your thumb, WOW. THATS ALL I can say.
HTH anybody at all


It’s good ( but not in a bad way) to hear that others have had this problem as it did go through my head that it was something unique to me doing something wrong. It’s certainly a reason why this forum is a great assist as we’re learning and more.
I’ll definitely be giving the no thumb thing a try


Check out tweak #3 on the “Five Small Bass Playing Tweaks” by Ariane Cap. In case you don’t know who she is, she’s the author of the excellent book, “Music Theory for the Bass Player”, and IMO one of the top bass teachers out there.

(BTW, the other 4 tweaks are very good also)


Thank you @PamPurrs.
I might buy that and spend some time reading instead of starring at my iPad


It’s a good book, but be prepared; it’s very heavy on theory (which I love).


It’s maybe a plunge I’m willing to take to be honest. Long long ago I was taught to read music so I’m hoping something may click again :pray:t2:


That was a great recomendation @PamPurrs I find that it’s a good reference book.