Thumb(s) Question

So I reviewed some previous threads first to make sure I wasn’t out right necroing but couldn’t find what I was looking for. So I have two technique issues/questions relating to each of my thumbs.

  1. With my right thumb, I have always rested it on the pickup. I certainly see the many benefits of the floating thumb technique, but oh man does it give me anxiety. So one could say “Just rest on the pickup for now.” However, that’s reinforcing “bad technique” kinda in my mind. As I’m very confident and comfortable with resting on the pickup. With the line of thinking to not worry about it for now, I feel will cause me to progress and be so set in my ways eventually, that I’ll never go back. Anyone have some advice on how to approach the situation?

  2. My left thumb tends to work its way parallel to the neck opposed to staying perpendicular. It seems this is a technique faux pas that I should correct? Or is it not as big of deal as I’m making it?

With all of this, I’m just trying to always be uber conscious of technique as that is the one thing people always harp on when it comes to online training. In regards to not getting proper technique training from them. It is in fact one of the major reasons I chose B2B. As Josh made it very clear to me in the free videos, that this is indeed an issue he acknowledges, which is why he continuously doubles back on technique in them or at least that’s how I perceived it. Either way, that doubling back always helps keep it on my mind which I feel is important.


Whatever you ultimately end up doing, it’s best to get in the habit at the beginning. I had decided on the floating thumb technique from almost the very first day of learning bass, and now I can’t imagine doing it any other way. But there are so many other techniques, all very worthy. It’s easier to learn a technique from the start rather than un-learning it and re-learning something else later. Just my two cents.


I’m no expert, but for what it’s worth…

If you do a lot of micro shifting, as I do, the thumb becomes a pivot point for your hand to move back and forth. It should swing like a pendulum (if that makes sense). So sometimes it may be perpendicular to the neck and sometimes almost parallel. I hope I’m explaining this okay without confusing you any further.


Not at all. Yeah I certainly agree with your first response and I was already leaning in the direction of powering through the anxiety as I know its whats best in the end.

I’ve had no formal training before B2B but bass is something I’ve tried to work at for around 5 years. So there are some things I’ve developed (like comfort with my thumb on the pickup) and micro shifting without really thinking about it may be something I’ve developed? That’s why I posted it as unsure if it was really a problem or not. I’ll have to research micro shifting and then see if that’s what I’m doing or if its a true technique issue.


@ChrisThomason for an example of my micro shifting, take a look at the end of my plucking video that I posted. It was meant so demo my plucking, but my fretting hand is there at the end.
Not that I’m a perfect example of how it should be done, but at least it gives you an idea.


Ok great! Then I’m on the right path. w00t!


I just hope Sensei @JoshFossgreen concurs.


Haha agreed. :eyes::pray:


Hey @ChrisThomason, I don’t think you’re quite understanding the possible right hand technique options available to you, at least not with the terminology I use. The technique I teach is most commonly called “moveable anchor,” which means your thumb moves between the pickup, E string, and A string depending on context (on a 4-string bass).

Keeping it on the pickup all the time is what I call “static anchor.”

The actual “floating thumb” technique is relatively rare, 90+% of gigging pros use moveable anchor, and I suspect a large percentage of bass students who think they’re doing floating thumb are actually doing moveable anchor, but using different terminology. (not including @PamPurrs, who is doing true floating thumb à la Gary Willis / Todd Johnson)

I dig into all that stuff in detail on our Right Hand Technique page.

I agree with this! The thumb of the fretting hand has almost nothing to do on electric bass, as long as it’s out of the way and you’re comfortable, you’re doing great.


Thank you @JoshFossgreen. That was the REAL reason I made that video to affirm that I’m doing it correctly.


Yes @ChrisThomason!! I have advice for you.

No technique works for everyone.
The fact that Floating Thumb Technique sounds like it’s from a cool 70’s Bruce-Lee-Wanna-Be-Low-Budget Kung-Fu movie makes it sound super cool and amazing…
But it’s not that amazing.

What’s amazing is people that practice every day and transcribe music, and get it so that they hear it, and speak it fluently.

James Jamerson put his thumb on the neck and played with one finger, and he gets to sit on the big throne in Bass Valhalla while all the technique-forum-trolls aren’t even allowed in the main hall when they die, and have to sit outside and hope that Jamerson or Duck Dunn or any of those killer old pick players leave a few scraps of meat and a swig of mead for them to fight over at the end of the feast.

I’m exaggerating, and I’m being flippant, but I don’t know another way to deal with this technique anxiety. It’s something that, as a bass teacher of 20 years, I can confidently say only showed up post-internet. Now I have to coax students into an acceptance of technique-as-guide, not law, and reassure them that there is no wrong choice… it’s weird out there these days.

Right thumb goes where you can play everything comfortably.
And it will change over time.
For the first 5 years or so of playing, I anchored on the pickup. Then it started moving string to string.
As you get better, you are better able to dial in technique.
Don’t worry about making any bad technique choices. Just make sure it sounds good when you play. If you care and you pay attention and you practice, you’ll be fine.

Same with left hand thumb.



Hahaha perfect :rofl:


Based on your sign off :wink:, clearly there is no point in making a counter argument so I’ll just say…thank you @Gio for your input!!! I think it actually removed all anxiety for me. As I will certainly work on evolving my right hand into the moveable anchor over time but I won’t be freaking out that I’m building bad habits that I can’t fix in the future. At the same time, I won’t be constantly forcing anxiety on myself either. I’ll work on it as I go. When its not work to play the song, I’ll work on technique. :+1:


Awww, shucks. That sign off was a bluff. Counter arguments are totally welcome, and if it gets closer to what the source of the anxiety / confusion / debate is, all the better.
I was just feeling my oats. Feelin fiesty.

I hope the anxiety is relaxed somewhat though - I never thought about technique until I met a bass line I couldn’t play.

Jaco’s “Blackbird” cover got me to work on descending string crossing with steady 1/16ths… with a string rake. And then:
Chick Corea’s “Light a Match” got me to work on descending string crossing with alternating fingers instead of string raking.

It goes on forever, and if you put the time in, your technique will improve, and will always rise to the level of the challenges you present yourself.

If you get into a super rad Honky Tonk band, you can play exclusively with your thumb, gig every night, and never think about alternating fingers.

It’s really about what comes down the road, and what you need to do to make it over/through/around the obstacles you set.

Once More Unto The Breach!
Steady as She Goes!
Full Steam Ahead!!!


Haha yeah I just knew the reference from The Mandalorian so was just going with it. :wink: I’m always all ears to sage advice!


Kiyoshi released a vid this week that really drove that home for me. For a while I have been kind of stressing out about the fact that slapping with my thumb facing down a bit (instead of the recommended “up a bit”) just feels way better to me.

I’m not going to worry about that any more.


This quote, x 1,000,000 forever!


Got a Match??? Light as a Feather??? :smile: :joy:

-Jörg (current Chair of the Sticklers United Club) :grin:


Got a Match.

This one. And to practice it right, you have to get the big pants, and ridiculous shirts in bright colors. The only way it will sound right.


I figured… was just teasing you!

And you found the version with a young Scott Henderson - or is it Screech?? :grin: