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Bass Size

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Johnny L, Dec 19, 2003.

  1. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I pretty much pull my 18" Goetz endpin out all the way up to the top notch when I stand while playing my Strunal bass (42" string length). I like it high enough to get my bow where I want it just by using my arm and not my body too. I'm over 6' tall, if that helps any.

    My teacher has suggested that a larger bass might be worth my while, and I'm not inclined to disagree. A bass that doesn't compel me to extend my endpin so far out seems interesting.

    But I'm wondering what shortcuts I could take to discriminate basses before I go out to play them, such as discussing the overall length of a bass, a bass's speaking string length, and/or whether it's classified as a 7/8 or 4/4 bass before I hit the road to try it.

    Your advice is appreciated,
  2. I'm inclined to think it's not so much the size of the bass, but how you play it; I used to pull my endpin out pretty far because I played in a sort of reclined, tilted position. Then I started working on the Gary Karr type technique which puts the bass much lower, in a very vertical position. It makes bowing much easier because of a staighter pull, and it takes weight off the left hand. Now I play with my endpin out only a little; to the second notch most of the time. (I'm about six feet tall exactly, as reference, and I play a 7/8 bass with a 43 inch mensure.) My point is, I don't think the size of the bass is going to make that big a difference. It's all about how it sits in relation to your body.
  3. I agree with Toman ( Again. I just agreed with him on another thread. It seems i'm following him around TBDB this morning )
    I think we've all seen and heard many great players: Edgar Meyer, Ron Carter etc. with small basses and long, extended end-pin shafts. Rons Juzek isn't that small, but he's so long he needs that length. Edgars Gabrielli is a solo, chamber bass, so he needs that extra length as well just because it's a little bass.
    I'm one of those strange people who like a longer mensure as well as a bigger bass. A 43' string length is really comfortable for me. I like that left hand stretch.
    I can't think of any short cuts for you though. As we all know, that sizing thing....3/4, 7/8 and 4/4 can be pretty confusing, so I generally try not to think about it when shopping for a bass.
    One thing I can suggest is to take your current bass with you to compare the new one with. Also, try to play the basses pointing in the same direction. In other words give each instrument the same chance by trying to re-create the acoustical surroundings. Play each bass in the same spot in the room.
    I know this sounds crazed, but I'm convinced it works! Good luck, man!
  4. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    It's nice to know there are larger basses out there for me to seek, and I see how simply bringing in the basses within arms reach is the best option. Just hoping to maximize my driving and shopping time, is all.

    Right, I'm back to practicing and learning!

    On the side, I finally got ahold of the Rabbath New Technique books, and it's kinda fun reading his advice from back then...particularly with standing his way before the bent-endpin showed up, and letting the left hand thumb prevent the bass from tilting back any further. Still, it's all very thoughtful advice.
  5. Hmmm..I am over 6' as well, and did have a Strunal DB, (between basses at the moment, and back on the plank), but the 3/4 is the max that will fit in a Silverado cab..perhaps I need a crewcab?
  6. Johnny: One comment on the Rabbath method; I have these books and while I don't claim to be an expert on his technique and I don't use it, my teacher did study with him. I don't think he ever advocated supporting the bass with the left thumb; just about everybody in recent history has been trying to get as much pressure as possible off the thumb simply to free up the left hand.

    As for the truck thing, I don't think a 7/8 bass or even a 4/4 is going to be that much longer in overall length so it wouldn't fit... although maybe if it's a super tight fit. I remember when I got my 7/8 I used the same bag as I did for my 3/4, and it fit the same up and down. It was just really tight across the ribs and side to side.

  7. As most of you know, i'm an advocate of the Rabbath stance to the point of boredom. I was under the impression that this stance was invented to do exactly what Toman says...taking the weight of the bass OFF the hands and arms and putting it on the upper body....Hence his and his followers ability to play with ALL five fingers of the left hand in the lower positions.
    Also, to get your body out of the way of your bowing, especially on the lowest string.
  8. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Well, then perhaps you can explain what's going on between the lines in Rabbath's scale study book, where he talks about his standing position (before he was using the bent endpin) and explain what he means when he talks about his left hand thumb. I read between the lines that the bass is supported by the body while the thumb prevents the bass from tilting too far away and falling - that there is weight on the left hand thumb in the lower positions.

    I'm not against standing as Rabbath recommends at all, just in case I was being unclear. I only wanted to share that the bent endpin sure makes Rabbath's standing recommendation so much more attractive, and the lack of a bent endpin is perhaps why Gary Karr likes to say, "Respect both thumbs". Gary stands as he does to accomplish this.

    Because Rabbath uses the French bow, I'm not sure he was ever worried about bumping his bow into his body. He's more interested in leveraging the natural weight of the arm as much as possible for great bowing technique.

    It's kinda fun to see how all this standing stuff connects, and how different solutions helps the doublebass player leverage and acquire techniques to get the job done.
  9. Michael Moore, one of my teachers, uses the Rabbath technique. From what he told me about learning it, you need to be seeing a Rabbath teacher at least once a week.
  10. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Wouldn't that be a wish for Santa to chase - having Michael Moore come over ever week to guide me personally through Rabbath's New Technique!

    Seriously, though, I'm not relying on a message board to understand Rabbath. My teacher's quite capable of filling in the blank spots for me. But feel free to send Michael Moore down to test me as you see fit.
  11. As I ve mentioned before, there are several things I would do for myself if I were say, in my 40's, and at 61, i'm thinking of doing a couple anyway, one is the whole Rabbath deal. Another is the Alexander Technique ( i haven't forgotten Dono ) The other is doing the fifth tuning.
    I'll still try to do the fifths, and i'll try the Alexander for sure. It's a little late in the game to do the Rabbath, because the stance is just too painful since i've already blown my body away from slouching on a stool for 30 years. It may be too late for the Alexander, but we'll see.
    You guys should look into this stuff, if you're getting into bad habits with your playing on a physical level.
  12. Interestingly, when an older student comes to MM with an established technique, he doesn't even suggest converting to Rabbath. Lessons with MM are about applying jazz theory of harmony to the bass, especially in thumb position.
  13. Wall button:
    It is absolutely, unequivocally never too late to begin the Alexander technique. I began lessons when I was 65. In 6 months I was aware of profound changes in my use of myself and, more importantly, my thinking processes. Within a year, I realized the course of my life had been changed forever, and I resolved to become certified as a teacher so that I might spend the rest of my life bringing wellness to others. So, at age 66, I found myself back in school.
    Do it.
  14. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Roger that, even for younger students. I was studying the Karr/Tolo method when I studied with Michael. His response boiled down to, "Fine. Let's get to work."

    Oops, now we're off topic. Ah well, that's never happened before . . .
  15. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    So now after I graciously invited Michael Moore to test me on Rabbath technique through Donosaurus, then the rug gets pulled. Well, I did start the name dropping game...
  16. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I received some 3/4 Wilfer dimensions from Jerry Buffa at Lemur. 4-stringer with a 46" body length and 72" total length, and a 5-stringer with a 48" body length and 76" total length. That seems like a nice way to begin taking the corners off ambiguity a little, if anyone's interested in helping me drag out more talk about bass sizes.

    Rabbath's scale book is awesome...the best workout routine since vomiting for me so far. Too bad my Strunal's fingerboard doesn't let me stop notes above A.

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