Can I ask a really silly question?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by dibba, Jun 24, 2004.

  1. dibba


    Jun 24, 2004
    I am a musically challeneged mum, so please be gentle with me :)
    My 11yo son has just started playing the bass guitar. He will be starting secondary school the year after next and i know that the school band would love a double bass player.
    My silly question is : is playing a double bass similar to playing a bass guitar except for the obvious fact that it's upright?
    Will learning bass guitar make it easier for him to learn double bass?
    Thanks everyone
  2. travatron4000


    Dec 27, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    that's how i did it. get him an instructor who specifies in Double Bass. i never had one untill i got to college to study music. and it was sooo much nicer then doing it myself. i thinks its a great advantage to be able to play both instruments and also to cross rock, jazz, and classical in your repitore.

  3. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Short answer - sorta
    Long answer - yes.

    The upright is probably 42" scale and doesn't have frets, while the electric is probably 34" and fretted. Now, if he's learning in school, and developing his ear, he should be able to adapt pretty quickly to the upright. The trick is to get the proper intonation (or close enough to fake it) without having the frets. So while it doesn't immediatly transfer, it will prepare him more than it won't.
  4. Eyescream


    Feb 4, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    For what it's worth, dibba, you can get different scale uprights. like standard is 3/4 scale, and like Brendan mentioned it's got around a 41.5" or 42" scale length (measured from string end to string end, I think); but there are shorter models made for shorter people, and i think they go to as short as 1/10 scale for little kids. How tall's your son? He might need a 1/2 scale or so (which is pretty easily found as a student model). There are some mechanical differences in how the two are played, and the notes will be in slightly different places due to the different scale lengths, but I really think that learning upright will make him a better bassist all around.

    A good teacher, I've found, can make a night or day difference. There are teachers that will happily teach both upright and bass guitar (mine will, for example).
  5. Eyescream


    Feb 4, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    And while I'm thinking about it, it's really awesome that you're so interested in your kid's interest in music. :bassist:
  6. incognito89x

    incognito89x ♪♫♪ ♪ ♪ ♫&#983

    Sep 22, 2002
    Royal Oak, Michigan
    It depends on how you're defining making it easier to learn.

    As for general mechanics, not a whole ton. It will help strengthen his hand muscles so in those regards it'll help, but both are quite different instruments.

    However learning double bass will infinitely help his understanding of music and train him to be a better musician. I played double bass for 5 years from 8th-12th grade. If I hadn't done that for so long I know I wouldn't have the talent or knowledge that I have now. It really developed my ear and understanding of music, and made understanding the bass guitar that much easier. It just took learning the different mechanics of the guitar as opposed to the double bass.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well there are two aspects here - so, firstly, playing bass guitar can help you to lean the notes as they have the same range - and it can help to learn about music.

    But - Double Bass is very much harder to play than bass guitar and it is much more physically demanding - in that way, bass guitar does not prepare you.

    With Double Bass it is much more crucial to have a good teacher, working with you on a one-to-one basis to make sure correct techniques are learned. Poor technique on DB can be very damaging and cause injuries, strains etc.

    I would suggest that the best thing you could do for your son is to engage a Double Bass teacher - before anything else, before buying him anything else - just get him a good teacher!!
  8. Everyone who has posted before knows a lot more about the subject than I do, so there advice is very valuable. However what I can re-emphasise if how physically demanding it is to play the double bass, for a grown adult it looks hard enough, for an 11 year old it may be too hard. Having said that I've seen kids younger than 11 play the cello which is similar in quite a few ways to the double bass so it can be done.

    Getting a very good, enthusiastic double bass teacher is the best advice your going to get. 11 year olds react well to enthusiasm!

    ps. I'm sure I've spelt enthusiasm and enthusiastic wrong, it's one of those words I never get right.
  9. Eyescream


    Feb 4, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    No, you got em right.
  10. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Dibba, I really have to applaud you in taking such a vested interested in your son's hobbies. It sounds like your son is in awesome hands!!! :D Also, don't forget, study after study after study done on the subject, demonstrate that children that get involved in music, even if they don't stay with it, do better in math and verbal skills. You're helping pave the way for your child's analytical and creative development. Really awesome!

    First and foremost, the Talkbass forums have two sides, the bass guitar side and the upright bass (DB) side. I would suggest posting something on the DB side, as pretty much every player there started on bass guitar and can give you some really great advice.

    I don't have much to add to what has already been said. I myself am an upright player who started on bass guitar, so I know a little something about. It certainly is more physically demanding, but man is it cool! I feel that way at 28, imagine me at 11! The sound, the tone.... It truly is a different beast. The theory is the same, of course. The principles your son is learning on bass guitar, from a music standpoint, will transfer over to double bass. The idea of a walking bass line, the rhythmic concepts, all of that is the same. Just thinking, one thing that might be a good idea, and I'd be interested to hear some DBers thoughts on this, is that when many people learn the bass guitar, they're often steered away from using the open strings. This is to say that they're encouraged to fret the notes. But in DB playing open strings effortlessly is of vital importance. Because there are no frets, open strings help you get your bearings with intonation. So, that might be something to discuss with his bass guitar teacher.

    Good luck, and I hope your son enjoys the instrument. Let him know that upright players are in demand, and we get all the ladies! :D
  11. dibba


    Jun 24, 2004
    Thanks to everyone for their responses - I really appreciate it.
    I definitely want to encourage any musical interests my kids might have. My daughter plays clarinet and I was thrilled when my son said that he wanted to play bass guitar as he is extremely sports-minded and I was so happy that he wanted to try something other than sport :)
    It will be a little while yet before I will be looking seriously at getting him a double bass. I have spoken to him about it and he is quite keen but I want to make sure that I can find him a good teacher first - not an easy task in a small country town! It was hard enough to find a teacher for bass guitar.
    It may mean that we will have to travel elsewhere, but so be it. Must remember NOT to sell the big car yet :)
    I will take all your comments into consideration and if I memorise some of them it might even appear that I know what I'm talking about!

    thanks again

    Jazzbo - I'd better not tell him that db players get all the ladies just yet - he still thinks that girls have germs! :)
  12. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    I did the opposite of most people here- started on upright, then a year later added electric. I'm glad I did it that way.

    As for finding a teacher- you may have to travel, but they are around. Check the local symphony. See if you can find a younger player there (as the older ones are probably very expensive) to have your son take lessons from.

    As for 'keeping the big car'- upright basses and hatchbacks were made for eachother. I move my upright in my mom's Toyota Celica, as it doesn't fit in my Ford Taurus unless the passenger window is down. :D
  13. now I can't say what is the best thing to do, however I must suggest that has a VERY good buy and sell for electric bass and double bass aswell as all the extra quirks that can make it more enjoyable. I personally have dealt on here a few times and never got ripped off, Highly recommended by me and likely almost this whole forum
  14. Sonorous


    Oct 1, 2003
    Denton, TX

    It's fantastic that you're interested in developing your sons musical interests.

    The next step is to get your daughter out of clarinet and give her a basoon. ;)