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couple of quick questions from a newbie to be

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Joe Nerve, Apr 22, 2004.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    i'm posting cuz i need inspiration.

    i've got a pretty neat gig where the woman is going to eventually want an upright player. don't want to lose the gig, and feel i have a lot of earning/traveling potential if i stick with her. if i decide to buy an upright it means the bongo bass i've been jonseing for is pushed even further into the future... :crying:

    anyway, my questions:

    is it easier to intonate on a double bass than on a fretless acoustic? i've been playing a fretless for a while, and i'm not digging it as much as i hoped i would. it seems whenever i see an upright player their intonation seems impeccable. am i just seeing really experienced players, or is it a little easier than on an electric.

    does anyone know of a place i can rent one at a reasonable price in NY. how much are they usually rented for.

    if i don't know any standup bass players how can i know if i'm renting a decent instrument with good intonation and action??? must i trust the integrity of whomever i'm renting it from?

    is there a good book or video someone can recommend for a beginner that would teach me proper technique and all that stuff.

    if i decided to buy what would be my best bet if i had to stay under like $1,300. also, is it possibly to get something worthwile for under $1000.

    how can i steal one without getting caught, hurting anyone, or having kharma come back and kick my ass.

    that's all. inspire me now please.
  2. You can only inspire yourself. If you want to play DB, its gonna take the desire to play one. If you want to "get by" on DB for a gig, that's another thing, and perfectly fine too.

    You are seeing players who have practiced alot and had to develop their ear for intonation since it is JOB 1 with double bass. Double Bass intonation is much harder than on fretless electric bass (this is from my experience) - the notes are further apart, there is more room for error, etc.

    I can't answer the question about NYC rental and rental ethics in general but some other people could (and probably will shortly).

    Book/Video are pretty useless without a teacher.

    All I say is just examine your motives here, and if you want to *really* learn, get a teacher. If you want to get by, you might be able to do it with a book/video, but keep in mind you might also hurt yourself that way.
  3. Oh one other thing I might add is that you may have seen some cruddy players too - the lower registers on a DB are more forgiving when listened to by someone who isn't used to listening to low DB notes for accuracy. But another DB player would be able to tell...this is not to question your ear AT ALL, but rather to say that when you play DB every day for years, your ear becomes very sensitive to *that sound*....
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Not only is playing in tune a more challenging prospect, physically getting the instrument to produce sound is more challenging. You want your Bongo to be louder and more defined, you just twist some knobs. You want your upright to be louder and more defined, you got to first get a loud, clear projecting, defined ACOUSTIC sound. and then plug that into an amp and turn it up.

    As LERM says, the people you hear playing wonderful lines with a big sound and great intonation do so because they put a lot of time and effort into getting a big sound and playing in tune. Lotsa shed time. The reason I don't sound like George Mraz isn't because I use different strings.

    But, by the same token, I can't imagine that yer singer/songwriter is looking for George Mraz. Depending on how challenging the gig is, your employer may be able to deal with a long learning curve. If not, then even if you HAVE an upright, she's gonna grab whoever can handle the music. And in this town you pretty much can't spit without hitting an upright player.

    RENTING - there are two shoppes that I know of that rent; Gage's and Geoff Morrow's BASS GARDEN(in Yonkers). Gage's is basically you buy a Strunal hybrid (carved top, plywood back) that has been professionally set up) and, when you are finished, they buy it back.

    But check also Kolstein's, Ideal etc. Ideal has the ad at the top of the DB section, they had a repaired Roma for $500 in there. You would still need a set up (and maybe a new bridge with adjusters) but for app.$1000, you'd have a bass.

    Don't rent from Sam Ash, Manny's Guitar Center whatever. The basses they have, that are a variety of quality, are NOT set up by a professional. They are taken out of the box and "assembled" but NOT set up. beleive me, stick with a bass luthier and his shop.

    STEALING - I, personally, will cause your death. Basses ALWAYS need work and luthiers tend to remember basses. Sneaky people have their luthiers put labels inside the bass in places only other luthiers will see saying, in effect, "If so and sos is not the person who brought this bass in, it's stolen and call..."
    I took my bass in for repair and while sprocket was working, Mike came over and said "Hey isn't that so and so's bass" And sure enough, I checked with the guy I bought it from and he checked with the guy who had left it with him to sell, who checked with the guy HE bought it from and it had originally been bought from the guy Mike remembered. From 12 years before he saw me with it.

    Getting a teacher is a good idea, the potential for f**king yourself up is pretty good. But hey, if it's what your hearing , grab one and see how it goes.
  5. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Think different instrument, not bigger fretless bass guitar. Odds are you'll be playing all those lines you playing now in a different way. It also takes a while to get your hands in condition, coordination, stamina, it's a whole new ball game. The instrument does open up new sonic possibilities, the ability to play something arco, but again it takes time to develop the skill. Finding a good teacher to work on your technique will get you going in the right direction but you'll have to do the driving yourself.
  6. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    If you were me you've got experience with the electric bass, have demolished the James Jamerson transcription book, and made your band think you where the sh*t for it without resorting to slapping the bass into unconsciousness. Here's what you would do next, in order of appearance:

    • Purchase a functional bass that gets to see the luthier for setup work.
    • Put masking tape diamonds on the side of the fingerboard where you can see them.
    • Work through the first section of the Simandl book until you get the idea how playing the neck in the money positions works.
    • Hear some great player use the bow and get motivated to buy one yourself.
    • Find a teacher who can get you started down the road you want to take with it.
    I didn't get hung up at all about THE BASS when I started, cause I already knew that THE PLAYER would need to put in lots of work to make THE BASS worth the added cost. Still, feel free to go in any order or ignore crossroads as you see fit, and best of luck.

    That's the last time I'm going to use bullets again...
  7. I played fretless before getting a DB. Contrary to what pals told me the DB was harder to intonate. Contrary to what some others say playing fretless was an advantage - you have to listen for the note and your tone is crapparooney if you play it flat-fingered as some play a fretted BG. And you know where all the notes are relative to one another etc. All stuff that translates.

    The VERY bad bits though are that you use a different position for the LH thumb relative to the fingers ie: the thumb is oposite fingers one or one and two in the main (not under two and three in the main on a db). Do this on a DB and it will not just hurt, you can do damage to weak tendons :eek: . It took me quite a while to learn new habits. You don't notice the pain at first, and then ... I don't know about you, but I often didn't stopped a fretless string with any of one fingers without the rest touching. You ain't gonna get away with that if you do it. Getting good LH posture is crucial.

    Also crucial is set-up of the bass. Absolutely! Ed is spot on as usual. Its worth all that extra dosh to get it or hire it from a reputable source that you can take it back to. You may think that the same bass from two different sources is essentially the same instrument. It isn't - it gets transformed into a musical instrument by a luthier set-up. I've heard the transformation. TBers who've tried my model of cheapish £1200 model of bass in shops hated it. Top players arround here who heard it say its good. And the luthier agreed part of the set up could be better and spent ages getting it spot on - for free - try that at Sam Ash? BTW you can't do it yourself like you do a bg, even though it looks a simple matter of shaving a bit of wood off here and there (have a scan through the set-up thread and look for anything with Brandstetter Bollarch or Schnitzer).

    One final thing - playing a bg encourage me to get mobility on the db to play the lines I was hearing. I practised lots but was in a rush :bawl: . Big mistake. You gotta have the confidence in yourself that you are so good you don't need to rush. Rushing is counterproductive. Now, db lines and bg - well they are now to me just two entirely different instruments which I play in entirely different styles becasue I hear them differently. The one advantage I did have was that most of my bass listening was bg players. However, whilst listening to db is good :D - your priority must be to find players playing in the style you want to gig in. Try starting a thread on the recordings category and watch people pile in.

    Good luck - and hell just stuff the advice and give it a go.
  8. Hate to be a spoil-sport, but learning a bit of bow (arco) will help both articulation and intonation. The sound from the bow concentrates the center of the pitch more than plucking and also provides more audible overtones that will reinforce your perception of the note. I suggest some practice on arco even if you never play out with the bow.

    A teacher will help immensely to get started with proper technique on both the left hand and on arco. Many are smitten (and bitten) by DB and desire to play their whole lives. Practicing good technique will support that goal. Younger folks usually will recover quickly from the pain of poor technique but that luxury is lost in the later years. There are a few lucky three-finger players (pinky never touches the board) around but they are rare, in my opinion.

  9. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    Confused. If notes are farther apart on an "upright" double bass, a finger that is 1/4 inch off on a double bass would be less "off" frequencywise than that same 1/4 inch on a "downright" electric fretless.

    Pun intended.

  10. Don't disagree with a word - but given where I think the Nerve is coming from, I'd do this once I'd decided db is for me and I'd got a working technique to do the minimum amount I needed to get the gig. Starting with a bow is soooo off putting. If Nerve is gonna be db serious - yeah - getta bow even if you only tune up with it.
  11. My points were that a DB is a) harder to intonate and b) there's more room for error. Just because you're a 'little' off as opposed to 'more' off the pitch - you're still off! An on a DB, there's more area that's off than on an electric bass. Therefore there's more room for error. That's just my experience, I am sure others have opposite views.
  12. I got the same view as you Lerm - I was told this 'you just put your finger within 1/4 inch and you're ok' baloney. If you're out you're out and unlike on fretless where you can roll your finger into true, on db you've often got the whole hand locked in the wrong place and by the time you've corrected it its too late to stop yourself sounding s**t. At least that's my experience.
  13. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I played fretless for years and made the move to DB about 6 months ago.


    First, if you ever slacked on practicing with the BG, those days are over. See, it got to the point with BG, for me at least, where I didn't really have to practice all that much and I was still able to perform at a high level. Say goodbye to that.

    Primarily, there's stamina. Man. Play everyday. Don't take a day off. At least 20 minutes. The strength it requires to be able to play, especially on those E and A strings. Then, when you start to fatigue, your intonation dies, and forget about your tone. You want to talk about buzz? Plus, if you're renting or spending $1300, you're not getting a top of the line instrument. In my, very very very very limited experience, any time I've gotten my hands on a higher quality instrument, with setup and all things being equal, it just plays easier. Bigger tone, fuller sound.

    Then, you've got intonation. Whatever made you think that intonation is easier, I have to tell you, I definitely disagree. Like someone said, the spacing is bigger, more of a margin of error. Intonation is a monster. You really have to work.

    Someone here mentioned that it's a totally different instrument. Again, in my extremely limited experience, (please take the word of someone else here before me), if you look at the DB as a BG, you'll get frustrated. The way that you interpret the instrument is so vastly different.

    I can't give a lot of advice. I can say with authority that I enjoy playing much more. I know this sounds stupid, but I almost feel like I wasn't even a real musician before, that I was just fooling around on a fake instrument, and now I'm learning to be a real musician. It's just a different feel. Completely.

    I can also say that now, around 5 months of playing, (and I missed a month of regular practices in December due to the holidays), I'm started to make bigger strides, view and feel the instrument in a different way.

    I strongly suggest a good teacher, I just don't think a book or video will suffice. I strongly suggest regular practice. I strongly suggest listening to a lot more DB, almost exclusively. See some live performances, etc. etc.

    Good luck.
  14. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I dunno, I think my experience is different. I came from playing fretless and found intonation on DB easier than the fretless... bigger sweet spot. There's much more of a variance if you wiggle your finger on fretless, so yes it's easier to slide into the right intonation but harder if you want to get it right when you first put your finger down (which is what I'm aiming for - no cheating).

    I know this because I still use a chromatic tuner to check my intonation while I play sometimes (yes I'm still doing that). And really... it's hasn't been that long that I've been DBing but already I can see that I come closer to being intonated than I was on fretless (i.e. I'm dead on sometimes and usually about 10-15 cents off). I'm just not consistent yet since I'm still a noob. On fretless, I'm all over the place!

    I agree that DB is a completely different instrument. Similar but different and requires more muscles and hearing. It's just so much more organic than slab, even if it's fretless.

    But then again, I may be a freak of sorts and maybe my ear is a little better having played piano, guitar, and all kinds of other crap since I was 5. I dunno.

    BTW: I'm a goon for not picking up a bow so I'm going at this pizz only. I think I made a slight mistake buying nylon Labella's now and will prob switch to something I can bow with. IMO, Simandl, like many other classical etudes such as Hanon for piano, are irreplacable and key to learning quickly and playing effectively. At least that goes for my experience.