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Arco Technique Question

Discussion in 'Double Bass Pedagogy [DB]' started by Who da Ville, Nov 28, 2018.


  1. After years of practice, the arco sound on my Spirocore mediums is starting to sound less like goose farts and more like real music. However, I still have an ongoing issue where the bow occasionally sticks/grabs on the string, causing a pause before I can get it engaged. I think that cleaning the strings with alcohol and brushing excess rosin off the bow may help some, but isn't a cure.

    FWIW, I'm using Oak 'soft plus rosin.

    Is this a technique problem, or just too much rosin?

    Thanks for the input.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2018
  2. wathaet

    wathaet

    May 27, 2007
    Maybe don’t use spiros. Most orchestral players that have medium spiros use fresh pops. Clean your strings several times per practise session. No alcohol, use something like a pot scrubber and run a nailbrush through your bowhair when you are getting a buildup on the bow.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2018
    s van order likes this.
  3. Scott Lynch

    Scott Lynch Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2002
    Delaware, USA
    I also use Oak Soft plus and have Spirocores on my bass.

    I've found the 'stickiness' issue to be a product of too much rosin. Solving that problem for me has been a combination of getting excess rosin off of the strings, letting the rosin wear off of the bow hairs, and in subsequent applications, finding the sweet spot in terms of how much rosin to apply on the bow.

    How many swipes are you putting on your bow when applying? For me it is 1, maybe 2 if it really needs it. Anything more is too much and I also run into the 'stickiness' problem you're describing.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2018
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  4. the_Ryan

    the_Ryan

    Jul 10, 2015
    New York, NY
    How long has it been since you had a rehair?
     
  5. Co.

    Co.

    Sep 10, 2006
    Germany
    Probably it is a combination of too much rosin for the amount of pressure, or too much pressure for the amount of rosin.
    Your technique might benefit the most, if you keep your strings, your bow hair and the amount of rosin on your bow, but apply less pressure on the bow. If your strings don't speak that way, try different bow speeds. In most cases it is going to be less speed, especially on the lower strings.
    Cleaning your strings from time to time with alcohol is a good idea. But don't get the alcohol on your varnish or your bow hair.
     
    Who da Ville likes this.
  6. wathaet

    wathaet

    May 27, 2007
    I don’t get why his technique would benefit from keeping the strings. It is better to learn on a setup that makes things easier.
     
  7. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    I regularly clean my Spriocores with rubbing alcohol. I have done it for years. I think it helps. A sticky rosin but little or no rosin build up on the strings seems best for arco on Spiros. If you need the other aspects of Spiros with an easier arco response Spiro solos would help.

    More than likely he needs the clarity and pizz response in other settings.
     
    Who da Ville and HateyMcAmp like this.
  8. Co.

    Co.

    Sep 10, 2006
    Germany
    Because this way, he might start changing his technique first instead of changing gear again and again and still pressing to hard.
    He can still change strings after solving this problem, but then probably for different, more informed reasons.
     
    Who da Ville likes this.
  9. wathaet

    wathaet

    May 27, 2007
    Neither of us know how he plays so your advice us stabbing in tje dark. As for ”informed”, except for the E, spiros are fairly uncommon in professional orchestral circles.
     
  10. Co.

    Co.

    Sep 10, 2006
    Germany
    I
    “Informed“ in the sense of “having learned something, that gives me a different perspective on what I'm doing“.

    I don't know how he plays, but if the problem is, that he is randomly sticking to the string, I doubt, that the string is the problem.
    He seems to be a beginner with the bow, so reasonable advice to me is, to focus on technique on the bass, bow and strings that he has, until he knows what he is doing.
     
  11. wathaet

    wathaet

    May 27, 2007
    A beginner should not be learning arco on spiros.
     
    CaseyVancouver likes this.
  12. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    If they do any sort of jazz, or other non-classical ensemble playing, yes. Other strings are just too dead for pizz. Still, even I used Corellis for a while as a beginner. I have gotten beginners to get a great sound out of Weichs.
    Cleaning the strings and focusing on bow changes will help. Maybe a fresh cake of Pops.
     
    Who da Ville, the_Ryan and wathaet like this.
  13. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Spiros have more overtone content, so clean arco on Spiros is a matter of controlling those overtones. As always, I would encourage going toward the unpleasant sounds as opposed to recoiling from them. Learning how to make those sounds is also learning how to purge them.
    It is also a good time to point out that tailpieces, bridge wings, cymbals, music stands, metal rods, pieces of wood, saxophones, trumpet bells, styrofoam, cardboard and endless other objects are bowed in this day and age. Struggling with a common bass string actually invented to be bowed can seem trivial in comparison!

    An entire "Opera" from bowed wood planks:

    Swedish drummer bowing a cardboard box:
     
  14. Thanks for all the input. I'm probably using too much rosin. I'll try cutting back...and continue trying to refine my technique.

    I know that Spirocores aren't the easiest string to bow, but when I do it right, I really like the sound I can get out of them. To me, the mid-fingerboard area produces a smoky, saxophone-like tone that I just love. Lower neck is quite powerful with lots of overtones, but there's a tendency towards goose-farts, especially on the open D & G. TP is clear and cutting, when I want to make a strong statement.

    I appreciate the advice to focus on the unpleasant sounds to learn how to control them. For a while, I was working on an old-timey fiddle tune called "Ducks on a Pond". There are several double-stops in the transcription I use that sound a lot like quacking ducks...

    FWIW, I once played in a band who had a practice bass strung with Corrollis. My arco sound was even crappier with them than with the Spiros. I suspect that switching back and forth between strings didn't help.

    I'm just a hobbyist who started late in life, so I'll probably never achieve professional-level chops. But I feel that I keep improving, & that makes me happy. I've only been kicked out of one band for my crappy arco technique.

    thanks again,
    Clint
     

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