Research: Electric bass players who later started to play upright bass.
Greetings from Finland! I'm bass player and bass teacher doing my graduate studies. My target is to create a little book for bass players who start to play double bass after they have already been playing electric bass, maybe working and doing gigs with it. I want to go straight to the point with exercises concentrating on differences between electric and double bass so that whoever uses the book could use the knowledge he/she already has and transfer it to this instrument which has similarities with EB but still is a different thing. Maybe the easiest way to describe my project is that I want to make the double bass easier to approach for EB players. I have played UB for 10 years and EB for 20 years.
I start from the assumption that he/she, who uses my book, already knows how to read music and the role of the bass in a band. He/she still doesn't need to be a pro.
Since I'm a pop and jazz player and teacher mainly, I won't have a lot of bow exercisies here. Of course, I will tell how important they are, that I'm studying it myself, and that every DB player should play also with the bow and take lessons with a good classical teacher.
So, why am I writing this here? Because I would like to have You in the references of my master's thesis! Please, share how you have practised, which exercises where useful and which were not. Every single answer and every point of view will be highly appreciated.
You are going to get a whole load of responses saying :
"Get a teacher!" :p
But seriously, I did switch from BG to DB and the one thing I learned was not to take so long - I put it off for many years and now wish I hadn't - even buying an EUB which I now feel made the transition harder.
I wish I had just done it (a la Nike)- bought a DB, had a few lessons and started to play!
Whereas I worried about it for years and was unsatisfied with using BG or EUB to play Jazz.
Apart from reading, the role of the bass and some theory - I treat the instruments as two completely different things and play them differently. For example :
On BG I am playing gently with my fingers, muting every note and avoiding open strings. On DB I pull through with my whole arm weight, let notes ring and play as many open strings as I can! ;)
I started on BG. While I think the role is similar I think the technique is not. It wasn't until I started to approach the DB and the EB as completely different instruments that I really started to get my sound together on both.
Left hand technique.
There is just an entirely different fingering approach. Since it is a fretless instrument and a large one at that I have had the most success with really diligent position studies.
Once I got the layout of the fingerboard in my head I was able to stray from traditional Simandl positions but these were very helpful for me to learn the fingerboard.
The other part is thinking of the left hand as an important part of tone production. I feel like the EB the right hand has a larger role but on DB the pressure, finger meat, etc makes a huge difference.
I think the location of effort is different. EB is all in the fingers and forearm for me. With DB I think of my arm more as a pendulum and know I am succeeding in that goal if I can feel it in my shoulder and back. Some people even talk about tone coming from your toes.
EB I need to remember that I need to let the amp do a large part of the heavy lifting and not overplay. DB I aim to have myself and the bass do the largest percentage of the heavy lifting possible and the amp to make up the difference.
The other part is finger meat. Having the maximum amount of finger meat is key.
This is a HUGE topic and I could write a book on it but that's the short version. Cheers.
I've been playing bass for twelve years. Started on fretted BG, started playing fretless 7 years ago, and I've been playing upright for 10 months. I only own an Ergo EUB and I think it's been a great help for me in the process of learning. I have access to acoustic uprights at my college and my teacher and i have been working on both. He says my EUB is a blessing and plays just like a low action acoustic. The downside is that with the eub you can get away with turning up the amp and slacking on a strong and loud pizz technique and you don't have a body for pitch reference. Thumb position is different on EUB which in IMO is good and bad. None of the acoustics i have access to have pickups so the EUB is a much more convenient choice for ensemble playing. I think that years of playing fretless BG helped me develop my upright intonation quickly. Granted, fingering techniques were quite different as well as plucking techniques it only took some practice and a few blisters to get over the difference.
Aside from the difference in left and right hand technique that others already mentioned, I think it's important to explain how to shift. There are already too many DB players who *search* when moving between pitches and BG to DB players have a good chance of falling into that habit. It messes up the groove and sounds sloppy - it is poor technique and a dead give-away for someone who wasn't trained. Ultimately, I see very little similarity between the two instruments in terms of technique and that would be a good point to make in your book. Aside from tuning, there really isn't much carry over between the two instruments, other than general musicianship - time, theory, phrasing, etc.
Thanks to everyone who have taken a piece of their time to answer this. It is very much appreciated!
Those things might make you a better musician, but the real work is learning the instrument and a teacher and experience are the only things that I think will help materially. Don't wait. Don't waste time trying to apply what you already know about BG to DB.
But, then that doesn't make a very good book. Left hand technique, right hand technique, information on the instrument (how to hold it, how to care for it, why you don't move the bridge up to make the "frets" closer together while you're learning, etc. A list of reference recordings. The expectation/reality that there won't be TAB and you're going to have to learn to read music to use most available reference material or play by ear.
Rufas Reid's book is already pretty good at most of this.
Everything said so far about the difference in the instruments is true -- well, mostly true. I think we TBers can be a bit overstated on this issue -- simply because, if something's true and you read 99 people repeating that simple truth because, after all, it's a simple truth, it can *feel* over-stated without being untrue. (Sheesh what a car-wreck of a sentence...) I'm not saying this because I disagree -- I'm saying this because our OP is trying to communicate with EBGers and I'm not sure the best approach is to send the one-track message that basically goes "you don't really know anything, forget everything you think you know." In some way that's the truth but in another way it's also a condescending approach that won't win many readers.
Why not try and use the ideas of similarity and difference as consistent themes in the book? For example, we say "the tuning" is the same. Well, that means they're (usually) tuned E-A-D-G, but it also means that the relative positions of the notes on the fingerboard are the same. If they know their EBG fretboard up and down and inside out (a dubious assumption, I know) then they *do* know something useful. The maps in their head are in many ways maps of the same territory. That's a useful thing to know if you're trying to educate them, isn't it? What they really have to learn early about that, though, is *why* the means of approaching those notes are necessarily so different in practice.
What I'm trying to say -- without writing an essay -- is that your thesis/book should try and use their EBGness as a starting point, a frame of reference. That's your value proposition, after all, the thing that would separate what you're proposing to publish from any other DB method. They are aliens from the planet Electric Bass Guitar and you are proposing to befriend them, to specialize in instructing them in the ways of the DB. Otherwise, why not just keep saying to them "Forget everything you think you know. Get a teacher. Get a bow. Get your Simandl. Get going."
They should definitely be told that the DB is going to make the pork chop feel *so* much smaller and easier to handle.
Yeah, it's not irrelevant, but it's just not what most people coming from that direction think it is. I'm remembering my own painful, mistake filled journey.
Yep, I drove that road too...
I forget that not every BG player knows the notes on their neck and can get away with using tabs and never really learn much about music. I took time to learn the notes all the way up and down the neck, trained my ears to hear correct relative pitch(playing fretless helped a lot with that), and learned as much theory as I could. I chose to start playing upright so I could open a new world of skills and timbres into my playing and my own music. Already having a strong knowledge of the bass neck and a decent ear just meant I only had to break through the technique differences which really wasn't a big deal. I have a lot of room for improvement but I am satisfied with what I am capable of already. I get paid to play upright already so how can I complain?
I actually thought an EUB would be fine for me because of the styles I typically play and definitely for the music I compose. I was mostly right but there is something to be said about playing an acoustic DB that an EUB can't quite deliver but the opposite is also true. Some of things I do on my EUB involving effects, looping, and extended ranges(more than 4 strings) are impractical on an acoustic DB sometimes. Not to mention the cost of owning and maintaining a DB is quite high and enough scare a lot of us BG players away. An affordable and quality EUB like the Ergo I own is great entry way in the DB world and I find it quite silly that so many DB guys are discouraging of EUBs. I may have never tried playing DB if I didn't have an EUB option and it definitely didn't hinder my progress as a player. All just my opinion of course....
EUB is yet another instrument, different than a DB and BG. Good for some things, bad for others, just like any other.
You might as well start over. IMO, it's no different in that regard since I came from guitar where the bottom 4 strings are similar. I too did play EB for a few months prior to jumping in whole hog and it virtually did not help me in any manner.
If it were easy, everybody would be doing it. Same goes for writing a manual to aid in someone's transition. IMO, shedding all prior knowledge of what one might think of how DB is supposed to be played actually is the faster route. Accept the instrument as something new and learn it honestly and things do come faster. Sides, there's the added benefit of also shedding any bad habits as well.
We all wish it were easier. Just learning technique to generate the right intonation alone is a lengthy process. No amount of transition from a fretted instrument will help with that.
Of course when I'm making the transition from the other direction it's so much easier. And getting a nice fat tone on a fretless Fender isn't hard.
I agree with Huy. The only thing my brief experiments with fretted and fretless BG did for me is persuade me that I might be able to manage a DB. Other than that, they're different animals that provide similar functions. The sooner a BG-er recognizes that a DB is NOT a BG only bigger, the quicker they'll develop the technique they need to play well.
I also came from guitar and still play. I'm much, much competent on guitar than piano, so if I need to harmonically accompany someone, guitar is it for me. It's also useful for learning and memorizing tunes, and concentrating on lines without intonation concerns.
As for the bridge part, there's the tuning and musicianship. If they're coming from fretless, they will typically have a better developed ear than fretted players and that will help. Many basic patterns are the same - root - five, arpeggios, etc. Maybe you could say that a DB is just like a BG except the technique is completely different? And, they need to get comfortable with the bow to have good intonation, which is a separate art unto itself. You could also mention that it typically takes students about 10 years to master the DB. Not sure how that compares to BG.
And, of course, the tone is orders of magnitude more complex and rich. Nothing like it, except maybe a cello. No, not even a cello, as beautiful as cello can be, it's still not a DB.
I bought an NS CR5 and it was more expensive then the Double Bass I settled on and which has got far more use.
I also found that the EUB, with the missing body, was actually harder to intonate than the DB. There were no clues as to where you were on the neck and I found you had to work much harder to get it right - whereas with DB, there are far more physical clues and intonation felt like a far more natural process.
I think that you need to spend time with the bass and if you have to spend a lot of time with an EUB then that hinders you in terms of the amount of time you have lost, that could have been spent practicing and playing Double Bass.
Don't agree that there isn't much to carry over from electric bass (and also guitar by the way). Sure they are different instruments that require different technique and intonation. But being a (professional?) musician already will give you a big lead to someone who starts from scratch. Will save you some years in my opinion:
-some left and right fingering concepts are the same, not all obviously.
-motorist skills are already developed
-theory and musical knowledge are already developed.
-reading music, listening and analyzing music is already developed
-being a electric bass player gives you also some new not so obvious concepts or ideas for your upright playing (and vice versa).
Of course this is highly personal and everyone has a different background. But being a professional electric bass player has given me much advantages for my double bass playing. And I sure didn't have to relearn everything.
Any instrument has a unique character. I suppose that can be described as strengths and weaknesses but I prefer to just think of it as character. Ultimately it is all about finding your voice on the instrument.
If someone who was an accomplished piano player wanted to learn doublebass and asked if his piano background would help, then I would say "of course your knowledge of music, your time, reading, theory, left hand patterns, etc..."
But, they still have to learn to play the bass. No one is discounting that a BGist or EUB player who has developed any of those things will be helpful to them, but as much as they like to think that it's just some incremental technique, it's not.
If you want to learn Italian, is learning Spanish a good way to "bridge the gap" toward that goal? No. Will it help? Maybe a little. Will it hurt? Probably you'll be mixing Spanish grammar and pronunciation into your Italian for quite a while. Is it good advice to learn Spanish first if your goal is Italian? No, that's just stupid.
Sorry, we've been having this discussion on these forums for 20 years. The facts never change nor the the number of people willing to argue each side of this, just the screen names.
Another plug for acknowledging that taking up DB should be regarded as playing a whole new instrument, not a simple extension of playing BG.
On the flip side of that, playing DB has improved my BG technique in regard to note feel and overall fluidity.
|All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:13 AM.|
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.12
Copyright ©2000 - 2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.