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Arco 6 string EUB

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by mheintz, May 3, 2005.

  1. mheintz


    Nov 18, 2004
    I have never had the opportunity to play a five or six string upright, EUB or URB, and I am curious as to the restraints on arco technique, particularly with six strings. Of course, there are numerous five string players in the major orchestras, but would the addition of a sixth string unduly inhibit the bow? Are heavier strokes such as detache or Brahmsian spiccato more difficult with the narrower string spacing? I have heard that EUBs in general have less resistance to the bow. Is this true? I have heard some talented gamba players on 7 string instruments, but the lowest note was an A (equivalent to the open A on the bass).

    Any comments would be much appreciated.
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The issue isn't so much string spacing, but where on the curve of the bridge the strings rest. When the strings get too close together, then the summit of the triangle between a string and its neighbors is tremendously low and it's difficult to get the bow on the string without playing its neighbors. To compensate you have to have a very curved bridge. On DB this becomes an issue because you also have to clear the body of the bass with the bow, and also you have the player who must reach WAAAY around to get on the high strings with the bow, these details in combination making it unwieldly.

    On the smaller bowed instruments these problems are lessoned because of the player-to-instrument proportions.

    I think, anyhow.

    With all of the extran neck that you get with a fiddle (v. Slab), why fuss around with all of those strings at all? With a long fingerboard you have three octaves or better vertically, and with five strings you have an octave and a half horizontally. I would submit that if you can't fit you r ideas into that space then you need to play an orchestra rather than an instrument :)
  3. mheintz


    Nov 18, 2004
    Ray, thanks for the explanation.

    Agreed. Although I suppose that the size of the instrument would not be such a significant factor on an EUB.

    Indeed, I believe that both Bottesini and Dragonetti played 3 string instruments, although this was probably due to the thickness of the gut E string, which at the time produced a less definite note. The advantage of a sixth string would probably be most apparent on some solo pieces like the Vanhal concerto, where the addition of a C string would alleviate the need to use lower Rabbath-like thumb positions or sacrifice tone by playing the notes in higher thumb positions on the A string. Presumably, the C string would have a brighter timbre with less position shifting. (Although perhaps a brighter tone isn't what would be appropriate, e.g. Mahler I.)

    My ideas could probably fit on one string. My ego, on the other hand... :smug:
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I'd think that this would do the opposite, where you would be able to stay at the bottom of the neck for the higher notes where you still only have three fingers? I don't know the pieces that you mention so I'm only guessing. I guess.
  5. mheintz


    Nov 18, 2004
    We are probably just talking past each other or I'm not explaining myself. The Vanhal concerto happens to be in C. I often end up playing in thumb position with my thumb on the E below the traditional G thumb position so that I can play C major arpeggios using my second finger for the C on the D string and my third finger for the G on the G string. I can then move my thumb lower if necessary for other arpeggios. With the addition of a C string, I envision being able to use four finger technique (without the thumb) lower on the neck, beginning with the C on the G string. Of course, I might find myself playing traditional fingerings anyways because many such pieces are so uniquely adapted to the 4 string bass tuning.

    I suppose fingering advantages, if any, would be moot, if the angle and spacing are too small to navigate with the bow. Has anyone played arco on a Clevinger, a NS EUB or any other EUB with six strings?

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