Can you recommend one good thumb position book?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by stormwriter, May 10, 2005.

  1. stormwriter


    Mar 25, 2005
    I'm trying to work the bugs out of my thumb position. (jazz)

    Any recommend a GREAT book to work out of? I know there's probably not a book solely on thumb position; maybe something like a Simandl then, but from a jazz standpoint?

    I'm still wary of thumb position, cause the high C that buzzes, but i'm hoping getting that resurfaced.
  2. Evolving Upwards by Rufus Reid - except that I think its out of print and the material has been now incorporated into the latest edition of his The Evolving Bass Player
  3. stormwriter


    Mar 25, 2005
    Cool... thanks! I have the older edition of the Evolving Bassist, or whatever it's called. I'll probably go buy that new one.
    I had one of my most frightening experiences ever in jazz, in a room with him and about two other bassists. It was a private audition for the Aebersold jazz camp, where they were evaluating my level of playing. I was so scared, and they wanted me to walk some lines, then solo. I said, "Well, can someone play the piano or something.." and they said i should be able to walk some lines, establish the form, then solo by myself, in time, unaccompanied. Well, i was only 16 at the time i think, and i was traumatized, cause i couldn't do it. What do they expect - i'd only been playing bass for a year... haha.
  4. Bet they didn't ask the foghorn players to do that!

    There is a thumb pos book by Michael Moore that is well regarded although it didn't appeal to me. Someone here will come up with the title. Its aim is melodic soloing in thumb pos based around the idea of target notes under (I think) your second finger.
  5. MartinT


    Apr 16, 2003
    San Mateo CA
    Francesco Pertracchi's "Simplified higher technique for double bass".
  6. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    It doesn't matter what kind of music you are going to play. You have to study the technique and build up your dexterity. Music comes from the head and ears. Technique comes for Good practice.

    Use Simandl Book I and play everything one octave up with the thumb being the Nut on the octave. After you can play all the excercises up to the third octave of the Bass well and in tune try some concertos that take you up there. The Dragonetti is 'Boot Camp'. You have to play it. It will change you forever. Playing Jazz in the higher positions will be easy after all the BOW training. Yes, do all the Simandl with the Bow first for the Left hand. Then do it with the right hand Pizz for finger strength. Scales, Scales in thirds, Arpeggios, etc until you can play the second half of the fingerboard as easily as the first..

    Also Ray Browns' Book is great if you just play everything up an octave AFTER you master it in the lower octave.

    There is no easy way to get there.. Work hard and practice seriously.. That's the key.. Good Luck..

    Recently I was learning the Beethovan Sonatina mainly because my Sons music teacher said he needed to learn it. Well first I have to learn it so I can teach him. Recently I tried playing it up an Octave and it was something else as if the Octave was the Nut. That's how you learn Thumb position for soloing. Learn all the Music you know in at least two Octaves.....
  7. MartinT


    Apr 16, 2003
    San Mateo CA
    As always, excellent advice from Ken.

    NHOP's (may he rest in peace) advice was to play all the Bach cello sonatas, but at pitch...
  8. Leco reis

    Leco reis

    Sep 2, 2004
    Astoria, NY
    get the omny book and play some bebop heads in high position
  9. I would also strongly recommend Francesco Pertracchi's "Simplified Higher Technique for Double Bass". This book really helped me get my intonation, hand position and strength together. It may seem a little too "technical", but I believe it contributed greatly to securing my concerto playing before my first major orchestra audition success.
    I'm also a jazz player and I got a lot out of Michael Moore's "Melodic Playing in Thumb Position". It gives you a solid base to start from when soloing in thumb position, by playing across the strings, instead of shifting for every chord change.
    Good luck.
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I disagree on this point. If you wait to work on one part of the bass until you 'master' another part of the bass, the second 'part' of the bass willl always be weak. The upper register is no harder than any other part of the bass -- other than you can hear your weaknesses more readily.

    I'm really strengthening my work on the principal that to be comfortable on any part of the bass, you have to erase these arbitrary mental frontiers that we (bass players) tend to put on the instrument. These frontiers, like the fear of TP, do nothing but limit you on the instrument.

    To address the original question: Learn all that you do on the entire range of the instrument. All scale patterns, arpeggios, etc. Take them all the way up and down. You may have to invent your own exercises in most cases, but for help you can take existing exercises and jsut keep going.
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    What RAY OF LIGHT said, with the caveat that Ken's initial advice about using the octave harmonic as a reference point could also be good for TP newbies who are afraid of the "great wild yonder syndrome" that often accompanies the first forays up into TP.

    GALESCRIBE - did you come to the DB through BG? If so, one really user friendly way to approach TP is to use all of your old across the string "box" fingering patterns up there while changing the BG fingerings that would have been "1-2-3-4" to "+-1-2-3" (where "+" = "thumb"). If you got very deep into BG scale playing at all, you will probably have played major and minor scales in these "box" patterns starting from each of the fingers except the 3rd. This is a great way to begin to get a lay of the land.

    For instance, the BG Major scale fingering:
    (scale degrees above in black, fingerings below in red)

    1 - 2 (cross) 3 - 4 - 5 (cross) 6 - 7 - 8
    2 - 4 (cross) 1 - 2 - 4 (cross) 1 - 3 - 4


    1 - 2 (cross) 3 - 4 - 5 (cross) 6 - 7 - 8
    1 - 3 (cross) + - 1 - 3 (cross) + - 2 - 3

    and so on.

    So now, instead of starting a "box" position with 1, 2, or 4, you simply keep the same basic shape and start with +, 1, or 3.

    Hope that makes sense.
  12. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Ray, you have that right to or not to agree with me. I am speaking ONLY from Experience and not theory. Also, doing all of what I recommend is with the Bow. Plucking the string no matter where you press the strings is less important than holding the note down on the fingerboard. Actually, with the upper positions, the notes rings less and you can actually play faster. All the more reason to work with the bow to strengthen your left hand..

    Ray, you do Simandl Book II after your do Book I.. Usually.. My point is to use Book I again and play it one octave higher. The excerses are much better to learn the Thumb Position from that Book II alone.. Try it.. tell me what you think after you finish the Positions section up the octave..

    Take the F and Bb Major scales. Play them in Half Position. Now do the same thing exactly one octave higher and use your thumb on the Open Octave. Now you are actually learning. Not reading.. Just watching yourself play. When you do all the scale type things you can remember, go to the Simandl Book I and take everything up an octave. BOW ALL THIS.....

    When You improvise in Jazz, you don't have notes and fingerings to read from. You need to be comfortable up there in the Clouds.. Have fun..
  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Apologies for my oversight.
  14. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Ray, I am sure you are a great player. I am not trying to argue wit you in any way. I just want you to see what I am talking about by actually trying it. It is actually fun to see how much material there is to parctice Thumb position with without actually buying a new Book..

    Ever since I started back playing I have had to teach myself. I find my old material has new meaning when I play it on both halves of the Bass..

    Guys, Gals.. Tell us your made-up practice experiences.. Let's School each other for a moment here.
  15. Francesco Petracchi Simplified Higher Technique for Double Bass, Yorke Edition
    really helped me with that area. Good luck!
  16. I've mentioned this before when the subject of thumb position came up. I know for a fact that Mike Richmond used Simandl 1 to get his TP together, he told me himself; I think he told me Eddie Gomez did too. And at least a couple Philadelphia Orchestra members have done the same thing.

    I've been working on it (though irregularly), and have some difficulties. Firstly, in half position the thumb obviously plays the role of the nut, but I'm not sure how to work the thumb above that while using the traditional fingerings (subbing 3 for 4). Secondly, as I get higher up the notes are closer together than I can get my fingers which makes playing in tune difficult. Having a whole step between 1 and 2 is better. I haven't had the opportunity to meet with anyone to get this stuff worked out yet.
  17. Savino


    Jun 2, 2004
    I think what ray was trying to hit upon was, there is no two halves of the bass. it's all one piece. A lot of the methods out there instill fear into students by placing thumb position at the back of the book. The most diffucult challenge of almost any instrument is negotiating the "break" Spending ample amounts of time there will solve your problems, no matter what music you play.
  18. Dittersdorf87


    Jan 23, 2005
    Chicago, Il
    Francesco Petracchi Simplified Higher Technique for Double Bass
    is definitly a good choice
  19. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    And that's basically Jeff Bradetich's approach, that it is ONE instrument. And Jeff turns out some great bass players, like Mike McGuirk (who can be heard to great effect on the TBDB Sampler).
  20. I started with the Simandl method Book 1, which I recommend to my students. My bass teacher at Berklee started me on the Edouard Nanny Method, a french book. The exercises in thumb position looked ordinary, but my teacher added some markings in my book, causing me to shift my thumb around a little bit. Well, after practicing like this for a while I had a revelation. If the thumb could be made to shift easily, then one would have access to all the notes in the range of the new placement. It's not one thumb position that is being sought after, it's any notes in any place that the thumb is put! So the ball was securely in my court. I began to practice planting the thumb from down the neck to say the Ab rather than the G, or the Bb, C, Eb (well up the neck), anywhere I had a thought to. So a good teacher could help here as well.