What is a thumb rest?
Well, as you can imagine, the thumb rest consists of a small solid piece of either wood, plastic, resin, etc placed on the top part of the instruments where you can support your big finger while playing your bass. They have different shapes and colours, you can find them as an accessory or already built on your bass as you order it. You can also find very creative DYI projects on the internet with different results and looks.
What does a thumb rest look like?
Well, depending on the shape of your bass and the place you want it to be, you will find very different types of rests. Some are long and thin, they run along the soundboard as a continuation of the fretboard. It is fairly common on both acoustic and electric basses.
There are some just plain regular rectangles, that are attached with a couple of screws while other will have a more ergonomic shape to really anchor the thumb and adapt to the hand without any bothersome angles of the other models. You will even find more funky looking thumb rests, almost like climbing gear made of colourful and bright resin.
And if you are not sure about getting one, you can always use a removable thumb rest. You can find removable solutions such as a clip-on pieces of wood that you can snap onto the soundhole edge, depending on where the soundhole is located on your acoustic bass, of course. Others are as easy to install as to peel off an adhesive and stick it to your soundboard. Just make sure the adhesive is truly finish friendly, though!
Why do players use thumb rests, anyway?
As in many subjects in music, this one is not an exception when it comes to debating whether or not you should use one! On the NO side, some do not see the convenience of having an exact spot to lean on while playing. Others use the side of the pick-ups and they think it is quite alright with that. On the other hand, on the YES side, many people claim it improves their playing speed and comfort. They say you can move more precisely and even get a different sound out of your acoustic bass depending on where you put it. It works as a way to stabilize your hand, if you will, and your hand might feel it has more control over the picking and plucking. And that often leads to getting faster and more stable moves.
Do I need a thumb rest?
It’s not that you need one absolutely, but you might enjoy the fact that you can lay your thumb on one spot and keep it still and anchored, while playing the figures with the other fingers. Only experience can tell. Therefore, the removable solutions are a good way to give it a try without the stress of a permanent decision.
Only you can decide if you want to experiment with the thumb rest. In Lacombe instruments, you decide if you prefer your bass with or without one. The beauty is just in the hands of the player.