Acoustic bass thumb rest

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.

Acoustic Bass Strings

So you’ve got a new acoustic bass guitar and wonder about what kind of strings you should try? It all depends in the sound you are looking for, really. I know it seems obvious but read along to see the differences between the many acoustic bass strings you can find on the market.

What sound are you looking for?

That is the first questions that pops into my mind. Every one has an acoustic bass player in mind who has that exact sound we are looking for. Even though the strings won’t make you play like Esperanza Spalding, you can start by identifying what you like about it. Ask yourself these few questions:

What did you like and dislike about the strings you have used before and are you searching for a change?

What kind of music do you usually or would like to play? Are you looking specific sound? Try to define whether it is damp, dark, bright, gutty, mutted, or a lot of sustain.

Are you looking for a low tension and soft action feel or would you rather go for thicker gauges and higher tension?

Fretless bass or fretted bass?

Let’s start by saying there is certainly a difference of sound between the fretted bass and the fretless. Depending on whether you have one type or the other, the strings and the techniques will modify the sound you will get. The way you can play the fretless bass, using vibrato, sliding or muted changes completely once you hop on a fretted one. Therefore, with the instrument you own, you have got different options:

If you are not new to the bass, I am sure you have tried some different strings from different materials. What is your experience with nylon, flatwound strings or roundwound, nickel, phosphore, or the black nylon taped bass strings?

Flatwound strings

Flatwounds strings are -well, you all have guessed- flat! They produce a darker, maybe more smacking tone. Depending on the type of bass, they do bring out an old school sensation. Flatwounds will not damage your fretboard as much.

Stainless Steel or Roundwound strings

If you are looking for a bright sound, these are the ones! Since they are the hardest, be careful as they might end up marking you fretboard badly. Especially if you are using an acoustic bass guitar. They do sound great on a fretted bass!

Nickel Strings:

Nickel strings are not as hard as the steel and sound maybe a tad less “obscure” but they will be hard on your fingerboard too. Some people feel they are not as “velcro-y” as the steels and do not stick to your finger as much.

Phosphor Bronze strings

Phosphor bronze strings are basically rounwounded string but their exterior wound is made of copper and zinc and, to my ear, they produce a richer and warmer sound than the nickel strings. They might not work very well with magnetic pickups.

Coated strings

Generally, coated strings are made to last longer. They show a bit of a sweeter tone than the nickels and the steels and feel a bit smoother to the touch, due to the coating, I’m guessing.

Half Rounds

Half rounds are between the flatwounds and the round steels. In fact, they are wound and then they get grounded to make then flatter. Regarding their tone, you will find they also are in between the rounds and the flats. They seem to gouge less your fretboard.

Tapewounds or black nylon coated strings

They produce that muted and darker sound that we all like in the older songs. These are the closest to the sound of a double bass, in my opinion. They are easier on the fretboard, too! You will find much less tension on the strings and the touch is smooth and slick. Basically, tapewounds are steel strings which are then protected by a flat (black) nylon tape. A good thing is they will work with magnetic pickups. Some people use the black nylon strings on their fretted acoustic bass, too.

Go back to the acoustic bass main page

Boulegan à L’Ostal 2019

boulegan caroline lacombe

St-Jean-du-Gard, always as vibrant! The music, dance and luthiers festival! The luthiers’ salon is always very busy! There, you can find all kinds of instruments that you will have a chance to try. This is the annual musical event not to be missed on Easter weekend. And we love being part of it!

One hour from Montpellier, towards the massif, Saint Jean du Gard greets you its streets, its bars and its dance halls during its international music and dance festival. Bars and cafes open their doors to spontaneous sessions, dances by their terraces, all in an enchanting setting!

The program includes a luthiers fair where you can meet more than 50 luthiers. In addition, you can participate in specialized workshops in order to learn more about dances and instruments from other regions.

So, if you are looking for a new instrument, a good dance or musical experience, you must come to Boulegan a l’Ostal … And of course, come and greet us!

Le Son Continu 2019

caroline lacombe stand

LSC the luthiers gathering at La Chatre (France)

Le Son Continu (The continuous sound in french) is one of the most famous luthier gatherings of all Europe. Every year, during the weekend of “the bastille” day, lots of traditional instrument makers gather there to show new models and most importantly, to show their passion and love for the craft. It’s like a musicians dream, you can try ALL the instruments on the booths until you fall in love with the instrument you are seeking for!

Le Son Continu concerts

This folk festival in France is not only about us (Luthiers) it’s made by and for the musicians, every year they manage to bring the best folk musicians of the world to play their music there, certainly the shows are awesome!