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Bass Height while Standing

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Johnny L, Dec 12, 2003.

  1. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    So there's 2 schools of thought here, right? On one side of the line you've got the folks who want to set the height of the bass by bringing the nut in line with the eye or eyebrow, and on the other side you've got the folks who want to set the height of the bass by bringing the bridge in line with the knuckles.

    I'm a knuckles guy myself, since I appreciate having my German bow getting nice and close to the bridge for power and clarity. I like mimicking Gary Karr's Koussevitzky lines the way he does them and imagining that I'm taming an entire orchestra. But then I understand a person not wanting to have the bass too high for lower position playing comfort, and I've seen enough people bow to know that if there's string winding exposure anywhere chances are good it's been touched with bowhair too at some point in time.

    So which side of the line do you stand on, and why? I don't care what endpin arrangement you're using, but I don't mind knowing either. I use a straight endpin and play around with a plain old rod I bent when I get bored holding the bass with my knee.
  2. I used to play with my bass fairly high, because it helped with my bow. I play german and have kinda short arms, so it was tough to get the bow straight. Then I discovered that if I play the bass in a much more vertical position that I could lower it a lot and still be able to get a straight bow pull. It made it easier to get around in all positions, and kept the blood from draining out of my left arm during those long rehersals. I've been playing like this for a several years now. I just today made myself a bent endpin to play around with, so I may experiment with that and a slightly higher setting...
  3. Don't worry, i'm not going into my Rabbath rant again! Looks like everybody's at least trying it! The standing position trick I always heard about was that the lower point of the basses C bout should be between your knee and your crotch.
  4. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I can't find this idea any less reasonable than the nut/bridge ideas I mentioned earlier. Thanks Paul for thowing a ringer into the model competition that affords greater adjustment than an eyebrow or knuckle.

    Toman: I found that the closer the bend was to the endpin plug, the less tendency the bass had to bounce when I did a vibrato or shift. This may be of use to you as you experiment too.
  5. Thanks for the tip. I actually play my bass fairly low most the time since its a big instrument and I'm not a giant, so I bent mine into a 'Z' shape. I figure the main factor is going to be where the tip sits in relation to the bass, not what angle it gets it there, as long as it works out to the same height. So I looked at as many pictures as I could find and figured it should sit under or just a bit behind the back of the bass. Thats how mine's set up now, and it seems pretty cool. I'm going to try some other sizes and heights to though, just for fun. Anybody else want to comment on what position is they find best? I know I haven't decided to make the switch permanently, but it's interesting to experiment with for sure... :bassist:
  6. basslife


    Mar 23, 2004
    Yeah, Toman, I'm no physical giant, as well, with the shoulders on my Panormo being so wide, I can't pull the endpin out, or there goes my thumb position. IMO The bass resonates a bit more when solidly planted; i.e., no extra length on the endpin?!
  7. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    I started out with the nut at the brow, but now, to answer your question, the answer is neither. I have experimented with the height for a few months now at the recommendation of my teacher. His comment was simply "wherever is the most comfortable." There really is no rule.

    The only real reference I know is that the pin gets set to the 5th notch. I'd guess the nut is .5-1" below my brow.

    I tend to play the bass fairly upright, but at 6'4" with a 37" sleeve, I don't really have any problems reaching positions.

    However, reaching them should not be equated with playing the notes in them in tune. :)
  8. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Yeah, there are no rules that can't be broken, ignored, or found inapplicable under the right circumstances...but I still enjoy discussing them and distilling their value.

    I'm using a bent endpin exclusively now and really like it. I have less tension overall when I play.

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