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Bent endpin, Rabbath for Jazz?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by flatback, Jan 11, 2006.

  1. flatback

    flatback Supporting Member

    May 6, 2004
    Well i have been viewing Art of the Bow this past week and it inspired me to get out my old Eggpin and see if I could make it work on my present set up (I jery rigged it) but, damn I forgot how much I liked getting the weight off my thumb. It is like sitting only without the crummy back problems and carrying a stool. In addition I carefully adjusted it as Rabbath suggests (although my tyrol has larger upper bouts then Rabbath's dropped shoulder bass)
    I have been really gettig nto the crab thing: if you start playing diatonic triads down two strings from thumb position and keep moving your thumb back, it becomes very easy to make lyrical lines that are possible otherwise (traditional) but involve a lot of shifting and are awkward. (if you then add some chromatic passing notes to connect them you get a very comfortable way to express bebop type lines. It took me most of the week to get my thumb callous up to a point where I can use it like a finger, but the extended range and ease of play from having your thumb on the board and using the arm weight instead of squeezing or holding the instrumenbt up is very freeing.
    I had given up the bent endpin years ago cause I didn't like the way my pizz hand was oriented on the board. But trying to use Rabbaths bowing technique ( arm weight, elbow out, loose wrist) has opened the whole thing up in a new way.
    I love learning new ways of getting around...I remember reading this interview with Keith J and he was talking about applying all sorts of different classical and post modern techniques to his style and then just letting them come up as they need to musically. I'm really going to delve into this and see if it is practical. I think its going to open up a lot of possibilities.
    Mostly I am curious to see if after playing 40 chorus' fo someone elses solos I can then jump into this and keep it musical.
    Anyone else using Rabbath for jazz?
  2. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    Lynn Seaton at UNT uses a homemade angled endpin and is a fantastic jazz bassist.
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    If you're holding the bass up with your thumb while standing you're not doing it right.
  4. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Rabbath talks in his method books about standing and letting the thumb keep the bass from falling over...before he and whoever the German luthier who made a copy of his Quenoil got together to make a bent endpin. But now he advocates bent enpins to take weight away.

    Rufus Reid uses a bent endpin for his teaching DVD, but occasionally demonstrates with a straight enpin (he's got both for his bass and uses the straight enpin to discuss standing and sitting with the bass).

    On my new bass, the neck doesn't have the sticky finish that my Strunal has and so my thumb can tolerate a little more weight and I can shift no problem. Still learning, though...


    Aug 26, 2005

    Yup..I have used it exclusively for jazz and all other types of roots music since 2004. It enabled me to really open my pizz playing up in the upper register for jazz and-- finally-- to develop some decent facility in the thumb position (along with some helpful tutoring by a classical teacher). Having been diagnosed with 60% carpo-tunnel degradation of BOTH thumbs, there is almost zero strength in my thumbs and I doubt seriously that I could have continued to perform on the bass without the reorientation of balance provided by the Laborie endpin. I do not own an instrument with particularly sharp sloping shoulders like a Quenoil model, however for a guy with essentially 2 dead thumbs, I am amazed how easy it is to transition to thumb position and get around up there. I am sure I would not be able to do this with a conventional, or straight, endpin. I was a skeptic regarding the utility of this endpid in jazz until I saw Rufus Reid plug a Laborie into his bass to provide a master class. If he uses a Laborie in jazz, so might all the rest of us. The other advantage of the Laborie, in my view, is the enhanced ability to hear yourself. In that angled 44 degree position, your head is directly over the F-holes. I hear the instrument like I never did before.
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I still say that if you're supportin the weight of the bass with your thumb, then you're doing it wrong. If I let go of the bass while standing, it falls forward and toward me. I use the weight of the bass to help do the work of both the right and left hands.
  7. i have a question for you jazzers using the Rabbath stance. what is the sound like of your pizz? i tried it for a while and found that it was great except that because the bass is curved further away from your right hand, than on say the more traditional or Karr stance, that i couldn't get the full meat of my index finger into the string. Ray Brown got that great sound by using at least the first two joints of his index finger and with the Rabbath stance i could only really use a bit more than the first joint. also when you want to play faster passages, with the electric bass alternate index-middle approach, that doesn't feel too good either. just throwin' it at ya. if you have found different i'd love to hear how you solved these problems. or maybe as usual it's all about comporomises.
  8. oh and has anyone used the feet off a floor tom for an endpin? just to like try it out before shelling out for a proper one? was lookin enviously at one at a gig last week ;)


    Aug 26, 2005
    I find it easier to "dig in" with 1 or 2 fingers, and much easier to raise the right hand up and play faster on the fingertips. Just because the Laborie endpin naturally drops the bass straight back into your chest does not mean you can't stand offcenter to get a better reach on the fingerboard with your pizzicato hand. I pick up my bass and then let it slide back into my chest and then step slightly to the right for pizzicato. Classical students of Rabbath concentrating on bow technique let the instrument drop straight back and they stay there. Rabbath doctrine is that the student should begin learning the scales in thumb position. Conventional wisdom is that you learn the lower positions first and graduate up to thumb position. Just the opposite with Francois. SO he wants his students on the bow to have the bass fall straight back into their body so they can more easilly reach thumb position and commence their studies from there. But you can still adjust your own stance behind the bass in order to reach the strings and dig in according to your comfort and preference. I'm sure you realize its not rocket science. Its just getting comfortable.
  10. anonymous8547j7d7b

    anonymous8547j7d7b Guest

    Jul 1, 2005
    I'm totally with Ray on this - & kinda confused as to why it's even an issue for anyone who's had instruction on bass:confused: . I am a stool-pigeon;) , but when I stand and let go the same thing happens - or, if I haven't being moving around too much "in the moment", the bass doesn't move! (Look no hands:hyper: !!!). Correct standing position was my first lesson (there's also good pics in Rufus Reid's "Evolving Bassist") in high school.
  11. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    So how does everyone feel about placing weight on the thumb to stop notes in thumb position?

  12. Ray and Jayd - Are we talking pizz only? What I think you're saying puts the bass in a position where the E (or C) string is inaccessible with the bow.
  13. anonymous8547j7d7b

    anonymous8547j7d7b Guest

    Jul 1, 2005
    Nope, works for arco. In fact, it was a symphony teacher who insisted that I learn how to stand correctly with the bass.
  14. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    :) I think you can find a whole schlew of positions that are playable and comfortable where the weight of the bass works with you instead of against you.
  15. This leads me to believe the bass turned toward the player pretty far. Am I correct?
  16. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Nope, not for me, anyhow. The top, right, back shoulder edge hits me right in the middle of my carcass and you can draw a straight line through the top, left, front shoulder, going at about a 45 degree angle right through the bass. I play the pin pretty high so that the bass leans toward me at about a (guessing after looking in the mirror, here) at about a 20 degree angle. I'm about 5' 8 1/2" and shaped a bit like a Keebler elf.
  17. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    In the year (wow, it really doesn't seem like much at all :oops: ) I've been playing, I've spent almost the entire time taking lessons from a classical bass player. I had the Rufus DVD for a couple weeks prior to lessons so I had some idea about how to stand with the bass, but he was very insistent about proper standing position similar to Ray's. I've never had to support the bass with my left hand. I can entirely support the bass with my body, no hands necessary. Oh, and I use this stance for (German) arco quite frequently, even though most of my playing is jazz (learning bebop heads with the bow = educational!)

    Also, as a side note, I find being shaped like a Keebler elf actually helps quite a bit. I've lost a significant amount of weight in the time I've been playing which has resulted in losing almost a foot off of my waist. To be entirely honest, while I feel and look much better, balancing the bass is a lot more difficult when your waist is significantly smaller than your chest!

    EDIT: FWIW, I saw Mike Downes recently with Ron Davis and he used the bent endpin. I can't say how much it helped, but it certainly didn't hinder his playing, that's for damn sure!
  18. bassbaterie


    Dec 14, 2003
    Houston Texas
    Director, Quantum Bass Center
    I was actually considering trying to develop a beer gut in order to be able to stabilize the bass from the back and the side, after getting a Laborie end pin. ;) It was sliding around on me a bit at first, just a bit. But after kind of getting into the choreography of it for a few weeks it sits quite comfortably against the leftish side of my belly and stays there. I'm under advisement to cut the endpin down a little more (now I worry the bass will settle against my "bionic body part" - one of those plastic hernia stoppers - hate that damn thing - and it'll make my left leg go numb and I'll fall over and drop the bass!) Anyway it's just as well, a beer gut wouldn't be right for my idiom, but the idea of "having" to get one was pretty appealing.
  19. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    Rabbath has given at least two rationales for using the bent endpin. There might be more I am not aware of. One is for getting the weight off the thumb, and another is his explanation that using the bent endpin position makes all strings equally accessible for bowing. That doesn't particularly have anything to do with jazz, but adds something to why he embraced this.

    I like the bent endpin for jazz. I also play a Czech-Ease bass for jazz and, because this is overall a lighter instrument with a different center of gravity, I don't use the bent endpin for it at present, but do have it back at an angle. Its easy to lean this on the body. If I were 6 foot something, maybe it would be easy to not use the thumb so much. Maybe this has a lot to do with different heights, weights, and structures of different individuals. There is no way I can seem to get the weight off my thumb except using either the bent endpin or a lighter instrument.

    When playing in thumb position, I was taught to put the neck leaning on the right shoulder. This frees the hands for playing. One can either lean into this or back. That seems to work well, endpin or no endpin.
  20. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    If you're balancing the bass properly there should be no weight on the thumb at all.