BG positions on DB

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by tommythomas, Mar 25, 2003.

  1. I'm a long time BG player (who isn't here) and just got my first DB this past Saturday.

    I have fallen in love!! There is a connection between the DB and me as I stand next to it that I've never felt with BG. To play an instrument that is as big as me, with such a big sound and vibration that I 'feel' internally is amazing.

    Ok enough of the gushing. Now a really newbie question. I have found a teacher but because of his scehdule, we can't start for a couple weeks. But I can't put the DB down. I am playing 2-3 hours a day and am feeling real progress.

    What worries me is that..... I am playing positions like a BG. I have big hands and have no trouble reaching low G to A on the E string without shifting like one would play the 3rd and 5th frets and work up a G major scale with minimal shifting to the 3rd and 6th scale degrees.

    But this must be really bad technique and the last thing I want to do is get bad habits ingrained right away. So can someone tell me that it is not that bad or point me to better things I should be doing on my own before I hook up with my teacher.
  2. Mike Goodbar

    Mike Goodbar Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2001
    Charlotte, NC
    I don't think what you are doing is necessarily bad technique. There are plenty of methods out there that use third finger, "extended" positions, thumb pivot, etc. Maybe your teacher will be able to work with you on that aspect.

    There are few basics you might want to keep in mind, though, such as keeping your left forearm more or less perpendicular to the neck (in other words, don't let your elbow droop), keep your left thumb somewhere behind your middle/index finger rather than wrapped around the neck, etc.

    A couple weeks probably isn't long enough to ingrain bad habits to the point where they can't be undone (I think).

    Have fun!
  3. moped10


    Apr 9, 2003
    Wilmington, NC
    Hey Tommy- I'm in the same boat you are- (same bass too) It is bass player heaven to finally have a DB- I just wish I'd figured this out sooner! From what I've read on other posts, your lack of shifting won't hinder your training- I'm guilty of the same thing- How's your right hand doing? It's amazing to me how you can drastically improve your tone by using the Ray Brown approach I've found in this fab forum :
    Can you tell us how you pick the string?
    I wrap the first section of my index finger round the string and snap it back. Usually just the index finger, but occasionally with the second. I come from the older school, where one finger for picking was the thing. The twofinger style. has come in with the younger men.

    How hard do you pull?
    You find out what the instrument will take without killing the tone. The tone has to sing. With the left hand you apply an equal pressure to match the pull of the right hand.

    (This DB is making a mockery of my BG callusses)
  4. Moped....

    Well my right hand is fine (pizz/bowing hand). But you are right about callouses. DB produces a whole new breed of callouses that BG never came close to.

    My left hand can get pretty tired on a fast piece because of the stretch and I am stil learning the light touch on DB. But have found that my touch on BG has gotten much lighter and just in the month that I've been playing DB my BG technique has improved dramatically.

    I have to find this Ray Brown technique. I've not seen it.

    You asked how I pluck the string? My fingers are probably at a 45 degree angle to the string. I use 2 fingers. Pointer more so. I get my finger around the far side of the string, but not under, and pull straight to me across and parallel to the finger board. The placement of my callouses are at about the 2 o'clock position on my fingers from DB where they were straight up from BG.

    When I play electric I use 3 fingers easily and sometimes my pinky but rarily. I'm an old guy too. Been playing BG since I was 13. I'm 46 now. But that's not old at all!! Started out playing with 2 sometimes 3 fingers.

    How hard do I pull? Pretty hard if I am jamming with the Irish traditional session. When I am practicing it depends on what I am working on. I am still really learning positions and scales so when I am focused on that I play light and higher up the neck.

    I agree about the tone singing. I've been listening to the bassist Sam Jomes and am blown away by his tone.

    Anyone what to comment on what I've said, I welcome the input.

  5. Where can I find this stuff on the Ray Brown approach? I did some searches and didn't find it.

  6. There is a book called The Ray Brown Bass Method.
    I'd also suggest listening to an album called Night Train, by the Oscar Peterson Trio. This is one of the best Ray Brown albums for tone, lines, and plain old SWING!
  7. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    That 'method book' is little more than a collection of scales, arpeggios and exercises. I can't recommend it at all. No discussion of technique, with the exception of a few photos of hand positions.
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Concur. The real "Ray Brown Method" is to be found on his recordings, not in the book.
  9. moped10


    Apr 9, 2003
    Wilmington, NC
    That question and answer bit in my post was pasted from an interview I found on this site-
    I agree the recordings are where it's at, but you can't actually hear his index finger saying "look at me, I'm perpendicular to the string", unless there's a session I haven't heard ;) -
  10. As far as "bad technique" is concerned, I dont' think that not shifting is bad.

    My hands are large enough so that once I get above like third or fourth position, I can use all four of my fingers like I did on electric, wheras my teacher cannot untill he gets into 6th or seventh positon...

    I dont' think that there is any wrong way to play bass, but I think that you will find your hand will get quite tired, very quickly if you don't shift often enough.

    but if your hands are large enough to play a G major scale without shifting a single finger, you probably are like 7 feet tall and should get a full scale bass instead of a 3/4 scale (which I assume you have, everyone has a 3/4 scale... aside from my classical instructor, who happens to be 7 feet tall)
  11. Great point, I picked up the Ray Brown book but I also didn't feel that it had any thing that Rufus Reids book didn't already cover.

    You could always pick up some of the Super Bass disks to get some education from Ray, John and Christian at the same time.
  12. Samuel: Where are you at in Gorham, or is it portland?

    You don't go to USM do you?
  13. Pause


    Jun 4, 2003
    Miami, FL
    I've to agree. I played DB for the first time one week ago (but BG for almost 2 years). I had to because I was told I had a gig and I was without my BG, the band teacher said I could use a DB. So, I played for about 2 hours straight (just simple jazz - filler music) and well, my pizz. fingers have huge brown callouses on the same place you described.

    It was fun, I've been wanting to play for a while now. Maybe next year, orchestra, if they let me borrow one for the summer. (Any advice on persuading the admin. against their "no loans during summer" policy?)

    Thanks for letting me rant,