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Bass for University Level Jazz Student

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by dieterdiettrich, Oct 23, 2013.


  1. dieterdiettrich

    dieterdiettrich

    Dec 23, 2010
    Florida
    So I'm getting ready to go off to college as a jazz major pretty soon, and I'm considering getting a new and improved double bass. I've been fantasizing about a 5 string but I don't know how often the B string would be used in jazz, though I know it comes in handy for orchestral work. I'm also thinking 7/8 or 4/4 size being that I'm rather tall, and the general consensus seems to be that larger basses, with larger lower bouts get the biggest sound. Opinions?
     
  2. pedro

    pedro

    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    I don't know enough about double basses to answer your question but there are folks here that can. I'm guessing though that they will probably need to know your budget before they can make a recommendation. Perhaps your current teacher might have a recommendation.

    Out of curiosity where are you going?
     
  3. dieterdiettrich

    dieterdiettrich

    Dec 23, 2010
    Florida
    My main choice is Florida State, but I'm also considering UCF, and USF. Budget around the $5-10,000 range. I'm looking for a better than starter instrument, but by no means a museum piece ;)
     
  4. pedro

    pedro

    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    Ah FSU, my alma mater. I was a music student there about a 1000 years ago before they even had any jazz. Hopefully someone will come a long and make some specific recommendations.
     
  5. dieterdiettrich

    dieterdiettrich

    Dec 23, 2010
    Florida
    Well, it is one of the best music schools in the south. You studied classical?
     
  6. pedro

    pedro

    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    Its all they offered at the time much to my dismay. Having been a self-taught rock/r&b guy I would have stood a better chance if they had offered jazz and electric bass. I stuck it out for a year before I left the music school. A casualty of not knowing how to read music well or having had the background. I was young and dumb. Naturally when my son decided he wanted to play I made sure he learned to read and had background in both jazz and classical. He ended up at UNT and finished his degree as a jazz performance major a few years ago.
     
  7. MikeCanada

    MikeCanada

    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Go to some shops with that budget in mind, tell them what you're looking for, and see what they've got. Talk to your teacher, and anyone else you can find who is a bassist, and let them know you're looking.

    As for a larger instrument if you are a taller person, that's entirely your call. I know jazz players that like smaller instruments because when they tour with a quartet in a minivan, they need the extra space. Big instrument does not equal big sound. There are small basses that project really well, and big basses that can't fill a room. Don't rule out big instruments, but don't feel the pressure to play something beyond a 41.5" string length just because you're tall.

    Five strings, extensions, or 5ths tuning aren't as common in jazz. They tend to be more accepted, but the politics of that have been hashed out too many times here. Unlike the classical world where the low notes are expected of a professional player, in jazz they're more of a bonus than a requirement. I have had the pleasure of studying with different teachers in all three camps. Their anecdotal experience was basically "the Eb is nice to have, but otherwise you don't really use it much."

    Again, don't rule out instruments with those extra notes, but I think you will find a lot more options in your price range if you aren't specifically looking for a 5 string/extension. You might find one and it might be great, but finding a 5 string when bass shopping tends to be like trying to find a needle in a haystack already. Finding a good 5 string is some even more difficult metaphor.
     
  8. dieterdiettrich

    dieterdiettrich

    Dec 23, 2010
    Florida
    Okay thanks. I only really consider a 5 string because I do play classical as well, and some pieces call for the lower range, and I'm not that big of a fan of C extensions. How do you feel about Kay basses? I like the idea of an older, jazz focused instrument that won't break the bank, however I know that they're not the best for when you play classical. Being that they're older, mass produced basses I also kinda worry about the playability, as I'm trying to move to a bass that sounds really good with lower action and such, so that I can perfect countermelodic/over the barline playing, which I kinda think of as my focus.
     
  9. I'm not a classical player, but I don't think a Kay would suit your needs. I've had a few, and the things they do well they do very well, but I didn't have the most satisfying arco experience. And I suck with the bow.

    $10k will buy you a lot of bass. Many nice vintage basses can be had for that kind of cash. If you ask nice enough I'll sell you one of mine for less than that. ;)

    I strongly recommend you track down a Shen Willow Rogeri. I LOVE mine. They run $5-6k, are made well and can take a good setup, and sound absolutely gigantic. If you playin thumb position a lot the broad shoulders could be an issue, but I think it's definitely worth considering in your situation.
     
  10. dieterdiettrich

    dieterdiettrich

    Dec 23, 2010
    Florida
    Yeah I've looked into Shen, and they look like great basses, but unfortunately I do a lot of playing in thumb position, so yeah, that kinda nixes that.
     
  11. How tall are you? I'm six-one barefoot and do ok with mine.
     
  12. dieterdiettrich

    dieterdiettrich

    Dec 23, 2010
    Florida
    I'm 6'2" barefoot.
     
  13. neal davis

    neal davis

    Dec 29, 2006
    toronto canada
    My upton brescian has big shoulders and so does my Hawkes and I have no problem getting up to the top of the finger board and I'm only 5' 10". I don't think the shoulders will be a problem for thumb position
     
  14. dieterdiettrich

    dieterdiettrich

    Dec 23, 2010
    Florida
    Okay, I really like the uptons, I got to play one a few weeks back and it felt pretty good. I definitely like the concord model, do you think that'd work?
     
  15. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Dieter, you need to go play many, many basses and when you find something that seems pretty good, you need to take it on trial for a week to see how it suits you in real world playing situations outside of the bass shop. If you're interested in Upton basses, take a trip and play all their models. If you played the Concord model and know you liked it, I don't know why it wouldn't work. If you're prepared to spend that kind of money, you need to get yourself educated and playing many basses is the way to do it.

    Be aware that setups can be tweaked on any instrument, so don't be dissuaded by that (you are bound to find poorly, or not setup to your liking, instruments at shops). First thing to do is find one whose sound you like.
     
  16. sowilson

    sowilson

    Jul 5, 2013
    How about a 4-String Upton Brescian with a removable neck. Then, if you want, get a 5-String neck made for it. You would have a bass with easily adjustable action (easy to switch from a jazz pizz setup to an orchestral arco setup), transportable, and 4 or 5 string flexibility. It should be in your budget too. Check out this video
     
  17. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    What you need for university is a good servicable instrument that you can put thousands of hours of practice and playing through. Avoid gimmicks. Leave school with skills, not top gear. I can tell you from experience that those skills are more difficult to acquire later on, but you can always spend money on equipment.

    Look at the profiles of the people giving you advice and listen to the ones living the life you want to live when you get out.
     
  18. dieterdiettrich

    dieterdiettrich

    Dec 23, 2010
    Florida
    Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm getting my current bass adjusted, and I could probably last for my first couple years on that.
     
  19. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    Scared you off, huh? LOL
     
  20. jnathanj33

    jnathanj33 There are two kinds of music, Good and Bad.

    Jan 9, 2011
    Oklahoma
    I thought that I would give FSU a plug! My professor has his doctorate from FSU, and he is the greatest!
     

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