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C extension technique

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by emilio g, Apr 6, 2009.


  1. emilio g

    emilio g

    Jul 16, 2008
    Jersey City, NJ
    I just had a C extension put on my bass with only an E stop for now.

    Generally I'm finding that shifting from half position to the extension Eb and D is a little tricky, but do-able. However the Db is tough to reach. Also its very easy to get hung up on the tuners.

    It should also be noted that I prefer to stand while playing, but sitting definitely makes getting the low extended notes much easier. What are your preferences?

    Any tips on how to navigate a fingered C extension would be helpful.

    ....or maybe its just a matter of getting out the Flesch book and sawing away until I figure out my own system.
     
  2. bejoyous

    bejoyous

    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    I find that D is the most used Lower-Than-E note. Followed by Eb, C then Db. Getting a latch for just the D is a good idea. Lots of Baroque and Classical pieces don't go lower than this due to the tuning of the violone, which was used a lot when these pieces were written. The ones from www.basscapos.com are excellent.

    Some exercises to get you started: 1) Go down the C-string in a Sol, Fa, Mi, Re, Doh pattern (ie: Bb, Ab, G, F, Eb) in Eb, D, Db and C major. When comfortable go up the pattern (Do, Re, Mi Fa, Sol). This will help you get over the break of having your thumb on the neck to having it hooked on a tuning post (or where ever). Also, do this in minor. Also, do this while opening the E-latch as you go down. Be sure to use different finger patterns.

    2) Do a Doh, Sol, Do pattern - root then down a fourth to the fifth of the scale and back. (ie: G, D, G or Ab, Eb, Ab). Usually the first finger will be on the lower note, but use various fingers on the upper note.

    3) Do a Doh, Sol, Doh pattern - root then up a fifth to the fifth of the scale and back (ie: open C to G to C - easy; D to open A - easy; Eb with first finger to Bb on the A-string with the fourth finger - a bit tricky; Db to Ab - a big jump, this is the trickiest.)

    When this is generally in tune, be sure to practice all this with your eyes closed or in the dark so that you are training the muscle memory in your arm and not looking for visual cues.
     
  3. bejoyous

    bejoyous

    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    From a Robobass reply: "Use a fret calculator (www.stewmac.com/FretCalculator/), double the string length so that your nut is the octave, then just count down in frets from the twelfth to C [8th] and there you are."

    Measure off the distance for each semitone and place a pencil line at each one. Play each note to make sure it is in tune.

    Then take a round needle file and file out a small groove out of the corner edge of the extension fingerboard.

    When you reach up to play a note, you should feel the groove beside the first knuckle of your index finger. This will really increase your confidence when reaching back to hit a lower-than-E note. And it helps eliminate the need to take your eyes of the music and look back at the extension.

    You can see an example here: http://picasaweb.google.com/bjoycefamily/NewExtension#5270388939236296322 The groove is between the two capos. (The tuning of my bass is DADG, so the groove you see is actually a Db then the metal capo is the low-C and the end string length is low-B.)
     
  4. I haven't had the time or C extension yet to do this with but one day I shall have a one-keyed extension and that key will be a D flat. The key shall be hinge mounted to rise and fall in the same direction as the string and the end of the key shall have a roller. When not pressed down the end of the key will also locate the note D so there will be only one simple hand position to find D - Eflat - E. I would probably have a capo to lock E down. I would try and work out a better, more ergonomic thumb rest that would allow fingers to work as "normally" as possible and avoid injury to my wrist.

    I'm only 5 feet 7 inches, not tall enough for a keyless extension that might be no problem for you 7 foot youngsters!!!!

    Ideally for my height I would like to play on a keyed extension, preferably chromatically going the "right way" like the old English Fawcett design of the 1970's. The problem then was that the mechanism would flex and bind through lack of adequate central support. Here again I have some ideas that I will try to follow through on when I have a chance.

    DP
     
  5. I would put your finger above the D, hovering I guess, maybe touching the string a little bit. Then slide up to the E and the F#. Not vomits, just practice being smooth getting to and fro.
     
  6. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    Just out of curiosity but where do y'all put your thumb when fingering on the extension? I tend to put mine on the back or side of the scroll most of the time. It's quicker than manuvering my thumb into the gab between the the extension and the pegbox, and frankly just feels more comfortable.
     
  7. I usually have my thumb in the scrollish area unless I am on the D or C# for a long time. Then I'll put my thumb in the gap.
     
  8. bejoyous

    bejoyous

    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    For Eb (Db on mine), it can be reached, if your hands are big enough and/or your string length is small enough, by putting your thumb right up against the curve of the scroll and pivoting the finger part of your hand towards the scroll a bit..

    I call this 1/4 position. Your first finger is on Eb, your middle finger is on the nut and your pinky is on F (or Bb or Eb on the D-string).
     
  9. emilio g

    emilio g

    Jul 16, 2008
    Jersey City, NJ
    I'm actually 5'7" myself and I'm getting used to the keyless extension!

    Some observations:

    From half position I can reach an E and Eb without having to move my thumb from the neck.

    Sometimes if I have lots of Eb's I put my thumb on the back/side of the scroll

    My bass has "hat" tuners, that actually make really good reference points. Sometimes they can get in the way, but generally, if my thumb is on the G string tuner, I can reach across an hit a D with my first finger. They seem to help more than hurt.

    For the really gross shifts, like Db to Ab or G, it isn't much different than learning to make big leaps in the upper register...it just uses larger muscle groups.


    I'm fairly new to classical bass playing, but I recently performed Shostakovitch 10 and I'm playing Mahler 4 in a month. Both have some challenging extension work, but I found a way to get the notes in tune. Are there any excerpts with really ridiculous shifts below E that I should check out (i'm sure there are)?
     
  10. anonymous12251111

    anonymous12251111 Banned

    Apr 6, 2007
    You could start with the scaler passages on the 1st page of Beethoven Seven.
     
  11. Hi Emilio

    Look out for Walton's First Symphony. I played it last years ago and seem to remember playing octave D flats, low high low high, as very loud fast eighth or quarter notes across strings. Even with the old chromatic keyed extension the passage nearly killed me and, because I was the only one with an extension at the time, I chose to play the lower notes very loudly while my colleagues stayed on the higher notes.

    The D flat octave is the hardest move and is when a capo would be most useful. It would not be too bad on the "wrong way around" Stenholm machine.

    I hope I'm right with the Walton. Certainly the D flat octaves are etched in my mind.

    Cheers....

    DP
     
  12. Height isn't really a big deal with the Bass like people make it out to be. The height of the bass is set relative to the height of the player. Unless you are under 5' tall I don't see a problem on a standard bass.
     
  13. bejoyous

    bejoyous

    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    There's the fast passage in the development in the first movement of Shostakovitch No. 5 - fast downward then upward scale passage with different notes going each way.

    Bottom of page 3 of Death and Transfiguration by R. Strauss has a fast passage that repeatedly starts on low-Eb.

    The Db scale passage in the intro of Mozart No. 39

    Ach!! the storm scene of Beethoven 6th (unless you choose to fake it like the other 95% of us);) Up and down the C-string until the string heats up from friction!

    The end of the development of Beethoven No. 3 has many leaps.

    Somewhere in Bach's Magnificat oratorio there is a 1/16 note passage starting on low-C# that goes something like C# D E C#, D E F# D, E F# G# E, F# G # A F# etc. This passage happens 2 or 3 times in the movement.

    If you don't have a capo for the low-D, the fast movement of Corelli's Christmas Concerto is rather challenging as there are many jumps from low-D to G.

    But start out with Bach's Brandenburg No. 3 first so the above stuff doesn't scare you off. There are a few challenges there to hit the extension range stuff cleanly.
     
  14. emilio g

    emilio g

    Jul 16, 2008
    Jersey City, NJ
    I just played this one with the orchestra at school under an Australian conductor named Kynan Johns! It was actually the concert before I had the extension put on. Digging out my practice part wouldn't be a bad idea. I remember it being pretty challenging, and the one guy in the section with the low C was working hard. Its a shame they don't play it America much.


    As for the other excerpts, I'll probably jump in playing some of the Beethoven stuff very slowly. I probably won't ever play it with an orchestra after I graduate college, but I can't get enough of it! Can't think of a more fun way to learn where the low notes are.
     
  15. bejoyous

    bejoyous

    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    I forgot the opening of the Firebird Suite by Stravinsky is a b@#$ if I remember right.
     
  16. Only time I've done Firebird I was playing a borrowed 5 string, so it was a piece of cake. But I can see how it would be horrible on an extension...
     
  17. anonymous12251111

    anonymous12251111 Banned

    Apr 6, 2007
    Nah. It's not bad. The tempo is fairly slow and works nicely with a stick extension or machine. I'm just going to put this out there, Shostakovich 5 1st movement passage is pretty much impossible with a stick extension, you'd have to use a machine or a five string bass.
     
  18. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    I think I know the passage you're talking about...It can be done, but it's no walk in the park.
     
  19. anonymous12251111

    anonymous12251111 Banned

    Apr 6, 2007
    Indeed. Five Stringer is ideal for notes below E IMO. Capo'd Extension is good to open up the resonance of the instrument to a specific key.
     
  20. derob

    derob

    Feb 27, 2009
    Lametown, MN
    Get a classical guitar capo (thaey open the widest). It works.
     

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