C extension vibrato

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Anton Avis, Apr 28, 2019.

  1. Anton Avis

    Anton Avis Guest

    Dec 13, 2016

    Recently, I had a C extension fitted on my bass and it posed some technique questions. If there's a long, held low bote, should it just be gated off (I have a keyed extension with all the semitones) or should vibrato be used? I'm not entirely sure if the frequency of the notes permit it.
  2. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    There are times when it can be nice, usually if alone. In section work, it is very very rare.
    Intonation and sound is the thing to focus on.
    salcott likes this.
  3. ILIA


    Jan 27, 2006
    Oh, dear God, no. Don't vibrate the extension notes. The frequency (hz) of those oscillations are low enough already. There's enough to worry about if you have just purchased an extension. Learn how to get around on it first and play in tune on it and not be distracting when fussing around with gates.

    Welcome to the beginning of the 20th century BTW.
    salcott, Dbass926 and neilG like this.
  4. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    Don’t get what the frequency has to do with it. I personally suck at ext vib, but a few colleagues have this fat gourgeous vibrato I have seen them pull out at just the right moment. Hats off to those three. It can be done well, but is generally not a section thing.
    robobass likes this.
  5. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    My teacher says unless it's melody, don't vibrate. Assuming the rest of the group is actually listening to the basses, a steady pitch is essential for foundational reference.
    mjt0229 and robobass like this.
  6. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    "Assuming the rest of the group is actually listening to the basses.." but it not us, who then? :)
  7. I tend to favor occasional and careful use of vibrato on the E string to help with warmth of tone but not wide enough to distract attention from pitch if overdone. The open E string is vibrating at about 41.7 times per second and the first priority must be intonation. This is why I agree with comments about not being used by sections and the need to provide a firm pitch foundation. And is why I would not support use of vibrato on keyless extension notes which IMO already have plenty of resonance, are even more difficult to center and are more difficult to start/stop.

    Every note we play is a mixture of fundamental and overtones which can be shown to look like a mountain range with peaks of different heights and each individual note on each bass will have its own mix. Adding vibrato moves the mountains sideways back and forth. Imagine each player's individual mountain range moving sightly sideways, never all at the same speed, width and direction. This produces a small band of pitch dissonance that adds body and tone to the group sound without disturbing the "in tune" note so long as no-one strays too far. Even without vibrato the collective pitch will be spread slightly because each player has a slightly different idea about "in tune". This, incidentaly, is one of the eternal pin pricks about section playing. IMO a section of three or more combines into a group resonance and pitch despite small individual differences and I always find two up rather challenging.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
    mjt0229 likes this.
  8. Sometimes I've stopped the note an octave above on an adjacent string and given a slight amount of vibrato. Just for kicks. (But as others have pointed out, the intonation and blended sound of the section is what's important.)