aspiring double bassist during the age of Covid-19

Discussion in 'Ask Lynn Seaton' started by fizzlestyxx, May 1, 2020.

  1. fizzlestyxx


    Apr 29, 2020
    I have wanted to learn to play double bass for a long time. I played piano when I was a kid and I don't regret it, but it wasn't my choice of instrument. It was my mother's. I'm in my 50s now, but that desire to learn the double bass is still there. I have found a local shop from which I can rent a 3/4 double bass. My budget is tight, but I think I can swing the rental fees. I am renting first because I worry that I won't like it as much as I picture it in my head; the idea of it versus the reality kind of thing. Okay, that's the background so now for the questions.
    1. Finding a teacher right now is not a good idea. Due to health issues and age, I'm at higher risk from complications should I contract covid-19. I know it's not ideal, but will learning from videos and information on the internet provide enough foundation?
    2. Rental of the double bass comes with a new set of strings and a bow. I wish to learn rockabilly and swing. One source of information I found said they use a hybrid setup for their action to be around 7mm for the G string. Is that about where I should be asking the shop to help me set the action? And would that be about the same for the other strings?
    3. And also, do I just use whatever strings they might put on the bass to start while I'm first getting started? Or should I try to get them to put on Slap Happy Weed Wackers since that is the style of play I am wishing to learn? If I go with the Weed Wackers, as a new player should I be getting the standard gauge or the premium gauge?

    Any other advice or suggestions you might have for me would also be appreciated. Thank you for your time.
    Jason Kruska and Keith Rawlings like this.
  2. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    Welcome to the bass world! Get ready for a lifetime of low end fun learning.

    I will offer some information regarding your inquiries:
    1. There are many good video tutorials. One with a great reputation is Discover Double Bass. They have a large collection of tutors in different styles. Paul Sharpe has several good videos on his YouTube Channel: Paul Sharpe
    Regarding studying with a teacher, there are many people teaching live online. Getting input is very important to keep bad habits from developing.
    2. 7mm for the G string is fine. ON an upright bass it is common for each lower string to be 1 mm higher as it goes down. For example G-7mm, D-8, A-9, and E-10. Some have a set up of 6,7,8,9. Some are higher. It would be good to learn to use the bow as well. Using it is a part of a good foundation AND it reveals our intonation very clearly.
    3. Strings are a personal choice. I use Zyex light tension on my main bass and have Innovation Silver Slap on my Kay plywood for special occasions. If you wish to learn the fundamentals through established methods, it would be good to use steel or gut strings. Weed Wackers are great for slapping, but do not work with a bow. If you wish to exclusively learn to slap with the Weed Wackers, be attentive to good hand position so you do not cause injury. Consider that many of the bass players in every genre have studied fundamentals to some extent.
    FYI, I met "Slappin' Annie" and her late husband the legendary Pete Anderson in Latvia. She plays with the Swamp Shakers. If you have not heard her play, here is a link to their YouTube Channel. The Swamp Shakers
    Here is a bio about Pete Anderson who was featured in the film "Free to Rock" about musicians behind the Iron Curtain. Pete Anderson in Memoriam

    I hope that information helps.
  3. Basso Profondo

    Basso Profondo

    May 1, 2020
    I think it's a great thing if you can finally pursue something in your 50s that you've been wanting to do for a long time. Don't be put off by any initial blisters ;)

    Some very good advice there from Lynn, and I agree with all of it.

    1) All I can add is that I'd say a good teacher on video is better than a bad teacher in person.
    2) I know you're starting with a rental bass, but if/when you eventually get your own you might consider getting an adjustable bridge. I say this because I remember when I was starting, it took me quite a few years to find which action I liked best, and so along the way I enjoyed adjusting the height of the bridge until I found out.
    3) I think of your three points, strings are the biggest consideration. I say this because I remember when I was a kid, I was trying to play jazz on a bass with Pirastro orchestral strings and I found it hard work and frustrating, and I didn't like my sound (and that's obviously not a good thing). When I finally saved up for some proper jazz, what a difference, made me want to play more.

    Good luck with it all, I hope it all goes well. And I guess if you're ever wondering whether advice from a particular video tutorial is valid or not, you can always ask on this forum!
  4. fizzlestyxx


    Apr 29, 2020
    Thank you both very much for your time and responses. Turns out my luck isn't so good just now. The local shop rented out the 3/4 upright bass to someone else and don't plan to get any more in. The shop they suggested I try is not local and they too do not have any for rent. To say I'm disappointed is a bit of an understatement.
  5. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    Fizzlestyxx, Sorry your local shop does not have what you need. Many shops rent to schools and students. Consider expanding your area if you can to a nearby town with an orchestra program. Good luck and stay well.
  6. What sort of geographic location are you in? Don’t disclose your home address, but your greater metropolitan area could help you get someone on here.
  7. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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