I am approaching the end of the course and am trying to be cognizant of things I need to work on. One of them is anchoring position. I tend to remain anchored on either the pickup or the E string and stretch for the lower strings. The problem is, when doing a lot of string crosses I tend to get lost and hit the wrong string. So it’s easy to practice right handed technique but what is the preferred technique? Not whatever feels best, cuz as a beginner it all feels awkward. Should I be trying to anchor on the string above the one I’m currently playing? That feels kinda cramped but I’ll get used to it if that’s the best way. What do you think?
Nothing like answering your own question . I really like this guy’s 2 strings down technique, especially for a 4 string.
I tend to believe this will become natural to you after you’ve had hundreds of hours of practice. I had the same problem, but now it seems like my right hand just naturally goes to whichever string my left hand is on without me even thinking about it.
To answer your question, I don’t anchor at all, I use the floating thumb technique, which I adopted right from the start. I would feel rather awkward if I tried to anchor my thumb now.
Depends on your bass, your preference, and what tone you want out of what you are playing. Anchoring on the neck pickup vs the bridge pickup makes a world of difference in tone. So the answer is… whatever it takes for you to be able to play the song and make the sounds you are looking to make. The big advantage of anchoring on the string is that you have less strings to worry about muting, which is a huge win for a beginner trying to sound better.
As a newb I can’t anchor on the E-string, messes me up, I’m having issues I put in another post as I can’t deal with the screw at the top of the P pickup and the J is too far back for me to get good sound. Going to get a thumbrest and see how I like that.
After a while you will start to sort of subconsciously anchor in different places.
The subconscious is weird. At some point I picked up a subconscious habit of muting unused B, E or A strings with my plucking hand pinky. I just kind of rest it on the next string down from my thumb anchor, without thinking about it. No idea how or when that started.
I guess most beginners are initially taught to anchor their thumb at all times and at the same position - typically the edge of a pickup or a thumb rest. The idea here is most likely to create some stability for the plucking hand while you focus on building up muscle memory for the index-middle finger style plucking.
This is how I was taught, both using online sources and when I - for a while - was seeing a “real” teacher. And this all works well, at least in the beginning and while you stick to a four-string bass.
Once you get to a 5-string (or even more strings), the stretch becomes larger, but, more importantly, string muting becomes a real challenge now (all addressed in the video you found). String muting can be tackled in different ways, but, personally, I have neglected this for perhaps too long, and now I find myself trying to implement the moveable anchor and re-train the way I play with my plucking hand; I try to do it pretty much like Adam Nitti shows it here, with the two string distance.
You could do muting with your “unused” fingers of the plucking hand (like @howard describes) or you could use the side of your thumb as it moves up over the strings (by the way, by “up” I mean to higher pitched strings).
The “floating thumb”, what @PamPurrs is using and what guys like John Patitucci and Gary Willis are using, seems the most “elegant” approach, but I find it super-hard, as I need indeed some anchor as reference, and perhaps almost like a mechanical pivot point or fulcrum. Also, the floating thumb is again more challenging for muting, I would say.
So, anyway, if you can start early on (earlier than me) to implement e.g. the movable thumb, then you will be very glad you did later on (latest when you buy your first 6-string ).
@joergkutter actually, quite the opposite. The thumb is a natural muting device as you move it down the strings (up in pitch). Moving the thumb up (down in pitch) is left effective for muting, so I have to use my left hand as a mute in that instance (as taught by Todd Johnson). It’s amazing how easy and natural this feels after practicing it for awhile.
I know this video has been posted before, but here is Todd Johnson demonstrating the technique.
@jazmo1999. I anchor my thumb on the neck pickup (the one you call P) and I nestle the tip of my thumb just forward of the screw.
It is like a little socket I put my thumb in
I anchor on the pickup for playing the E string, and move my thumb to anchor on the string next to the one I’m playing for the other strings.
I think that’s what @PamPurrs means by ‘the floating thumb technique’.
It seems a perfectly logical approach to me, and I was surprised by how quickly it became natural to me when I first started playing.
No @Mark_D, when using the floating thumb technique one NEVER anchors the thumb, thus the name “Floating”. You simply slide the thumb up and down the strings while plucking with the fingers. Take a look at the video I posted of Todd Johnson demonstrating it.
also interesting (good video too). i guess i’m looking at this from two angles - using your thumb as an anchor so you have a good reference point to find the plucking string, and then also what the floating thumb seems to address which is string muting. In the end, I’m sure you’re correct in that it’s just practice and muscle memory which will cure most of it anyways. I just don’t want to bake in a bunch of bad habits that i will have to unlearn in the future.
I agree! That is exactly why I started using the floating thumb from the start when I began learning the bass. It has become very natural to me now, and I always automatically pluck the correct string without any thought.
Whatever method you decide on, stick with it and practice a lot. In time you will not even think about your plucking hand, it will do what you want it to do with no effort.
I’m really inconsistent on this. In fact, I’m not even sure what I do. Might need to pay more attention to it. I know I do a mix of anchoring to the pickup and anchoring to the two lowest strings though. I do like using anchoring as a muting technique. I also will tend to move down if I’m just playing on the two highest strings.
I’m still a supernoob, but I know a little bit about body mechanics. I figured out pretty quick that anchoring my thumb was going to cause problems for when I needed to start string crossing. I experimented with a number of muting techniques (including some pinky and ring finger stuff) and anchor techniques before settling on floating thumb and moving my whole hand (through the shoulder). I was on the right track for what works for me when I found a Scott’s Bass Lessons vid on a 6-string review that gets more into some finer of points of this, plus this Todd Johnson vid. Note to self… Stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Google is your friend. Search for technique…
I am actually practicing with NO anchor for the thumb ala Steve Harris technique. He anchors with the outside of his back palm and lets his thumb float touching the strings he wants to mute. A bit more difficult to get used to vs. anchor on PU or on E or A string. But in the end it will allow me to switch strings faster.
A real good instructional video on this here