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A Research Question

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by BassManJim, Dec 19, 2004.

  1. I.ve been playing bass (guitar) for some time, and for the last year I have been playing with a small jazz combo, I have really gotten into the music, and the "culture".

    So... I want to make the switch to upright, and I would appreciate opinions on some of the less expensive (cheap?) basses that I have seen on ebay and other places as well as the "house brands" from Musicians Friend and Sam Ash.

    Are they worth the anything? How do they play? does anyone have any experience with them?

    Also is a 3/4 size bass a wise purchase or would 4/4 be better?

    Any and all advice welcomed!

  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    For you adventure......
    1) Get a teacher.... see if you really want to punish yourself with a real practice schedule. You will want to play more musically than your technique will allow since you already play Electric Bass.
    2) Let the teacher decide on which Bass is best for you. Hopefully he wont be swayed by any business relationships with stores or brands. You will not know enough yourself yet to make the choice on your own. There is a TON of JUNK Basses on the market today. Much of it in 'Guitar" Stores. Don't go to a Violin Shop to buy a Guitar either..lol.. Get my drift?
    3) To play well and play in tune you will need to learn with the Bow..(don't go too cheap on the Bow.. It will hurt more that it helps if you decide to persue the Bowing stuff) It takes time.. Actually.. you will be practicing for the rest of your life.. We all do.... that's a fact !!
    4) 3/4 is the normal size for most people. You need a playable String length (scale length in slab lingo). The next size is 7/8 but nowadays, most Basses over the regular 3/4 size are called 4/4 and this is most often FALSE. Get the 3/4......

    I recently bought a 4/4 case for my 7/8ths Bass and it was too small. It fit one of my 7/8th but barely. It does fit my larger 3/4 Italian Bass. These Chinese today are making the sneakers too tight....lol..... I have a very Large 7/8ths and I will have to find a case for it.. The Cheapos Cases called 4/4 barely fit a 7/8. So.. most likely, the 4/4 Basses you try are probably 7/8.

    A full size Bass will stand about 6'6" from end to end before using the endpin. String length will be 44+-46" instead of 40-42" for 3/4-7/8 sized Basses standing about 6' - 6'2". Get a large Van if you buy a true 4/4. It wont fit in a Car.

    Good luck......
  3. The only instructor that seems "fairly knowledgable" that I've talked with, owns a music store that has a rental program bundled with lessons.

    So....... might this be a good way to go?

    My thoughts on this ....... perhaps the rental instrument might give me a benchmark to judge other instruments against while I am starting lessons?

    Also the rental payments apply to the purchase price if you decide to buy the instrument, or when you have made rental payments = to the purchase price , you own it.

    Additional thoughts?

  4. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    What is the Professional Bass playing Credits of the person that will teach you?

    Is there a Symphony Orchestra in your area? Professional or Community?

    Is there a Musicians Union in your Area? They will have the List of players.

    Your Teacher must have some Orchestra 'Training' at least for you to really benefit the most.

    Do not worry about the Jazz.... That you can figure in and adapt later but you need to build a foundation of technique and stamina to make it it work and Play in tune.

    Renting is fine if the Bass is good and well set-up. A Pro bassist will know if it is or not. Students cant' tell yet.... Most School Basses Suck as far as set-up goes. 90% of the ones I have seen need the Neck re-set so you can get the action low enough without cutting the Bridge down to a Cello!!

    I can't really advise you on the lesson-rental-buy thing. I dont know the guy or the Bass.. That's my honest answer.. It may be good.. it may not.. I have no way of knowing..

    It is sure in HIS best interest if he teaches you and sells you.. But is it in YOUR Best Interest?.. You decide..... Shop around if you can...
  5. Thanks for the input.

    I live in a semi-rural area, the only symphonic orchestra is the community college, and they aren't half bad. But there also aren't any long resumes in the group either.

    So....... the nearest metropolitan area is Los Angeles (2 hr drive time)....... I guess some further investigation is in order.

    Rest assured I do understand the need for proper technique and training (15 years piano player, mostly classical).

    Violin teachers seem to be a dime a dozen, but bass teachers seem to be kinda rare.

    Thank you so much for your thoughts on the matter.

    ........ Jim
  6. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    You could very well find a good bassist in the community college orchestra. I think it is worth persuing.
  7. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL

    I used to live in LA. Could you be a little more specific as to your location. Maybe I could point you to someone in your area.
  8. The only place that I am near, that most people recognize is Barstow, actually a little south of there.

    Yes the College does have ,IMHO, a pretty good bassist, that plays in the symphony,I'll have to check if he does any teaching.

    I really appreciate all the help that I'm getting on this forum.

    As of now, I am planning on beginning this project in summer 2005. I'm just doing the preliminary research at this point.

    Thank you .......... Jim
  9. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Start now !!

    By Summer, you could be Gigging already on the Upright !!
  10. mazaremba


    Apr 15, 2004
    A good teacher will be an excellent tool no matter what bass you play on. My first teacher got me down with some basic technique, even though the first up right was a horrible Roth fiberglass....(do yourself a favor, do not buy one!) I now study with a professor and the progress is amazing.

    I know you said you live in a rural area, but if you could find a Professor at a college who is willing to give you lessons it would be well worth the drive. Not only will you learn a lot in a very short time (arco or pizz) you will have expert advise on anything that you need to know.

    ----On the personal side of things----
    My switch to upright from eletric was very smooth, because I had already had a musical education from playing the trumpet. At first your teacher may want you to learn a lot more about reading music and just music theory, but it will make things a lot easier down the line.

    I don't know if you have played an upright before, but make sure you play it before you buy one. These aren't like eletrics, you really have to play it and make sure you like it.
  11. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    BassManJim (or possibly just Jim?)

    Just starting out is the best time to avoid bad habits or better yet, to learn good habits. You might want to consider that the drive to L.A., even if only once a month, will get you an abosolute professional teacher who can steer you in the exact direction that you want to go.

    I had to do a 2.5 hour drive when I was younger just to find great teaching. That five hour round trip was worth every minute.

    A great teacher can make clear in five minutes what might take months for a decent teacher to get across.

    IMO, take some local lessons to make sure that you like the upright. Then, seek the best player in L.A. in your genre. There are so many monster players out there. And many of them are really great guys to boot. :)
  12. Thanks to all for the great advice, now I just need to sort everything out.