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Advanced Techniques and Playing Position

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Joroan, Aug 30, 2004.


  1. I have been playing bass, both electric and acoustic, for several years now. However, only in the last year have I started playing with "advanced" electric techniques such as playing multiple parts with a melody in harmonics, tapping, double thumping, etc. I have been learning tons by studying Victor Wooten pieces. Specifically, Classical Thump, The Vision, More Love, Amazing Grace, and Norwegian Wood.

    My problem is this: I can only play using these techniques when I'm sitting down. I have a 24-fret Warwick Thumb-bolt. This bass is much heavier than my first bass, a 20-fret Fender Jazz. When I am standing up, the neck does not stay in an angled position higher than the body. This is because it is heavy. I'm finding that I have to use my left hand to keep the neck in that position. When I stand, I have no problems playing bass "normally," such as when I play walking basslines or improvise, because my left hand stays on the neck the entire time.

    I think some people are going to tell me to adjust the strap. I am sure that I have the strap set properly. The bass slides down, though, when I remove my left hand. The difference when I sit down is that the body rests on my thigh, and so I can keep the bass stationary as I two-hand tap and such. The left hand isn't needed to keep the bass in the proper position. The bass also sits a little more to the right, so that I can more easily reach the end of the fretboard and twist my left hand however I need to play harmonics. (Think of Amazing Grace when you're playing three strings, one fretted and the other two as harmonics.) If I play Amazing Grace standing up, my left hand cramps up very quickly because it must support the bass as well as twist around.

    I think I should mention that the problem isn't as bad on the Jazz Bass. I think it's because the fretboard is shorter, and that the bass is lighter. Still though, I much prefer playing my Thumb Bolt and would like to figure this out.

    I would greatly appreciate any suggestions. As it is now, I perform sitting on a stool. I don't care how I look, since I am able to play comfortably and wickedly :)

    Thank You
     
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Thumb basses are neck-heavy due to the body design. A rough, wide leather strap might help and I've seen people use metal contraptions to make the upper horn longer.
     
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
  4. Ahh, thanks

    Wouldn't a longer horn make the bass lean more towards the neck? Or does it just add weight to the body, to counter the neck?
     
  5. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    No. The center of balance (the middle of the distance between the two strap buttons) is moved toward the headstock (or ideally near the mass center of the bass), decreasing the neck dive.
     
  6. dodgy_ian

    dodgy_ian

    Apr 9, 2001
    Newcastle, UK
    perhaps try dropping your strap slightly so that the bass body sits a little lower which in turn can pull the neck up sightly? also brings the nut and the headstock a little closer as its quite a long neck and a bit of a stretch....

    Failing that just screw it and play sitting down!!

    Dodge
     
  7. what i found out, through trial and error is thatwhen i play sitting down i sit in the 'classical' position, legs spread like a classical guitarist and bass set so it rests on your left leg,

    Then set your strap so it sits snugly and isnt loose so that when you stand up the bass stays in the same position as if you were sititng down, also improves your technique and also its more comfortable to play both slap and tap
     
  8. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Memphis
    You need a thick strap that has some friction on your shoulder to keep the Warwick in place. I just got a Comfort Strapp for mine and it's ideal.
     
  9. i disagree on the thick strap, i had a 3.5" leather strap before and it was the most uncomfortable thing ever...i ended up going back to my 2" fender, but what you might wanna try is putting the granny sheep skin car seatbelt cover on your strap, my mate does it on his guitar and i tried it once and it was comfortable, just i dont need it, i dont have to worry about those stupid things called headstocks anymore :p :smug:
     
  10. Agreed. I didn't have a problem at all with neck diving on my Warwick Corvettes after I got my comfort strap.
     
  11. Great,

    I think I'll try a new strap as soon as I can. I suspected that would help.

    Could someone elaborate on the "classical position" for me? Is the bass still horizontal, or is it vertical with the body below the fretboard? And the body sits on the left leg? Then how does that stay in position when you stand? I would think it would shift back to the right...
     
  12. Here are pictures of the classical position.