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Should a upright player get experience on the bass guitar?

Discussion in 'Ask Lynn Seaton' started by Mathewmiller, Jan 17, 2014.


  1. Mathewmiller

    Mathewmiller

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Hello,

    I am a current upright student who at the moment is in collage for jazz performance. I have been playing upright for about 3 years and came from playing the bass guitar (though I never really had much experience) I was wondering if you think it is a good idea to invest some time in playing my bass guitar of keep my focus on only practicing my upright. If it is a good idea to keep on the bass guitar would you subject getting a fret less bass? Would that be easer for an upright player, if so what would you recommend. My bass guitar is a fender jazz bass. I really don't want to put time into playing the electric bass, however if it is an importing skill to have I want to start my practice now.

    Thanks,
    Mat miller
     
  2. Nick303

    Nick303

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2013
    It's a strange question to ask, but it implies you think it's important. So I think you should, yes. It would make you a very enviable addition to any ensemble. Electric bass has been a key part of the jazz story for 50 years or so, so why limit yourself?
    I'd love to get experience on an upright, but I don't know whether I could manage it. I have a fretless jazz, but it seems a world away from an upright!
     
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 1999
    Location:
    NYC
    Disclosures:
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I REALLY hope you're typing with your thumbs.

    Anyway, that's a question only you can answer. Certainly as a tool of commerce, playing bass guitar as well as double bass can make pretty much every gig a viable one. and that goes for bass guitarists who are thinking about playing double bass. If you are in music because the making a living part is more important to you than the only playing music I want to play part, then it would be a smart decision to double. It would be a smarter decision to learn to play piano and sing, because then you can work as a single.

    For me, I started playing bass guitar and came to double bass much later. But DB became the predominant way I heard my "voice" in the music, so I only play that now.
    There's plenty of bassists on either instrument that make a living playing just that instrument. There's plenty who do it by playing both. Opt for what brings you the most joy.
     
  4. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Location:
    Denton, TX
    Hi,
    Most working bassists double at some point in their careers if not for the duration of their life. I started on upright but added the electric soon after so I could play different styles of music where the sound of the electric was needed and wanted. These days I focus on upright. There was a period (a long time ago) that I only gigged on electric for about a year. Being able to play both has given me opportunities to be in ensembles where they needed certain things. Having a large palette of sounds, styles, and abilities gives one the tools to fulfill the requirements of many jobs where someone needs a bassist to fulfill their vision. Sometimes we get lucky and get hired to bring our vision to the bandstand and share it. It is one thing to get a call from someone saying "I need a bassist for my gig that can do ....". It is very different to get a call from someone saying "I need YOU for my gig.." and they expect you to bring YOUR vision to the bandstand.
    If you want to do both, go for it!
     
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