What part of the thumb should you use for double bass thumb position?

There are two parts of the thumb that work well on the bass. One is easier, and the other is a bit more challenging (but maybe more useful!).

With Jason Heath · San Francisco, CA

There’s a lot of debate about where, exactly, to land on your thumb when in thumb position for double bassists. The correct placement of the thumb is essential for proper technique and a comfortable playing experience. In this blog post, we’ll explore different thumb positions and provide tips for finding the right one for you.

Overview: Understanding Thumb Position

Thumb position is a technique for playing high notes on the double bass. It involves placing the thumb on the back of the fingerboard to create a pivot point for the hand. This allows the player to reach higher notes with greater ease. However, finding the right position for the thumb can be challenging.

Finding the Right Position for You

The right thumb position for you depends on your hand size, playing style, and comfort level. It’s essential to experiment with different positions to find what works best for you. Start by placing your thumb in each position and playing a few notes. Notice how your hand feels and if you can comfortably reach the notes you need to play.

Spots where the thumb can make contact with the string

Spot #1 – on the knuckle

this spot is easier for most beginning double bassists

What I usually recommend people do is start just by touching the active harmonic right up there. Then once you get used to that, put it down on the active harmonic, and then move around a little bit. Over time, you’ll develop a callus, and your comfort level will grow.

jThe main disadvantage when we’re playing on the knuckle is just that your thumb kind of bumps into the other strings, so it feels a little bit less precise. Also, there’s something about the way that your hand is oriented when you’re on the knuckle.– it’s not the most comfortable for my fingers.

Spot #2 – by the nail

it takes a while to develop comfort in this spot, but I ultimately find it to be more useful

I like to get people comfortable playing closer to the nail. This is not as comfortable at first, because there’s this nice bone at the knuckle, and this side area is a bit fleshy. It can kind of hurt a little bit.

Ultimately, I find myself using both spots. It depends on the passage I’m playing, and there are many ways that you can get more comfortable using either spot.

Getting comfortable on the side of the thumb

First of all, just make it a daily practice. Do this a little bit every single day, and you will build up a callous. You also want to make sure that you are at a 90 degree angle, no matter what part of the thumb you use.

Finally, just make sure that the tone you’re getting with the thumb is as good as the tone on any other finger. So I play, Don’t be discouraged, work at it, and comfort and skill will follow.

Tips for Finding the Right Thumb Position

  • Experiment with different positions to find what works best for you.
  • Make sure your hand is relaxed and not tense.
  • Avoid placing your thumb too far forward or backward.
  • Keep your thumb curved and avoid straightening it.
  • Try using a support device to take pressure off of your thumb.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When finding the right thumb position, there are a few common mistakes that you should avoid. These mistakes can lead to tension, discomfort, and poor technique. Some common mistakes include:

  • Placing the thumb too far forward or backward.
  • Straightening the thumb instead of keeping it curved.
  • Tensing the hand and wrist.

Practicing Thumb Position

Once you’ve found the right position for your thumb, it’s essential to practice it regularly. Start by playing simple exercises and scales to get used to the new position. As you become more comfortable, try playing more challenging pieces that incorporate thumb position.


Thumb position is an essential technique for double bassists, but finding the right position can be challenging. By experimenting with different positions and following the tips in this blog post, you can find the right position for you. Remember to practice regularly and avoid common mistakes to ensure a comfortable and effective playing experience.

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