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describe your standing position

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by mike_odonovan, Jun 8, 2003.

  1. After discovering that i used my thumb to grip the neck when playing, i have been working at getting rid of this habit with some exersizes that people have put in posts about this problem and also from reading Gary Karr's website (i have ordered his book and video). i haven't been able to find a really good teacher yet but am still looking.
    i have had to stop seriously practising as i did while doing my jazz degree while i try to get out of this habit. i have been using the following exersizes:

    1) bowing open strings and balancing the bass.
    2) playing a G major scale along the string without my thumb touching the back of the neck.
    3) taking each finger and playing the whole G major scale up the string.

    i can see the advantages of leaning the bass into the notes that the left hand is playing. in the lower positions it seems this is the only way i can get a solid note while keeping the thumb from touching the back of the neck. is this the right idea? or should the bass be slightly leaning towards me? am i being too rigid in learning to play without the use of thumb pressure whatsoever? any more ideas? describe your standing position.
  2. Right now, I'm switching from the "bass leaning into the body" standing method to something more along the lines of Karr's "balanced bass" method.
    It's kind of a b*tch, but I think it will be worth the effort. I'm already getting a better tone, especially in thumb position.

    I don't have the Karr book (yet), but should the left knee touch the lower bout?
  3. i too am getting a much better sound in thumb position. the sound of the bass seems much better when upright. i think maybe before when i leant it back on my body it kind of dampened the sound a bit.
    still not sure whether Karr suggests just balanced or leaning forward into the left hand. anyone give us a prima on the book/video?
  4. Not trying to get off topic but this brings up something I have been pondering.
    I love Gary Karr and I pracice with my DB pretty much straight up and down but . . .
    I wonder if because Gary is a "solo" DB player how much of his teaching should be taken with a large grain of salt.
    My goals are not the same as his so I wonder about his stance.
    He plays mostly fourth position and up, kind of a bitch when you rely on playing 1/2 and first position.
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    For me, I can't find any better way to play the bass with a straight endpin than the way my teacher describes Gary Karr's way. But I'm not completely conscious over keeping the bass perfectly balanced upright at all times and leaning it forward in thumb position now, unless I'm learning something new that sounds bad and I'm back in troubleshooting mode to fix it.

    I don't have Gary Karr's video or books yet either (my teacher has recommended other things to me, but please let us know how you like Gary Karr's method!), but I understand that he goes into great detail about what he does and why he does it. One great thing I learned from Gary Karr's website is his idea about "respecting the thumbs". I infer from that idea that he means for me to use my left hand thumb as Rabbath intends for it to be used - as one of a number of reference points for the notes on the fingeboard. So I don't ignore my thumb, I just don't want it to do something it doesn't have to (like constantly carrying the bass while I'm standing).
  6. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I don't remember Gary talking about learning to play on the neck without your left thumb. I remember him advocating the "C-clamp" position. So it seems to me that the work you're doing is an exaggeration, and the exaggeration has been helpful as an exercise or as a rut-buster. I wouldn't feel bad about using your thumb or needing to use your thumb, though.

    Lotta members in that club! I hope that Gary would laugh at some of the things I find myself doing in the heat of the moment.

    That's where I remember Gary having more of a tendency to lean forward. But again, I don't remember it as a dramatic thing, just a little tilt. You may want to practice with the exaggeration . . .

    FWIW, my recollection is that one of Gary's beefs with Simandl was that it unconsciously gives people the notion that "sixth position" must be harder or more advanced than "first position" because six is a higher number than one. My old teacher, Gary's colleague Leland Tolo, made it real easy to draw the conclusion that that the low notes were the hardest for most players. But always, Tolo and Gary supported their students in keeping an open mind and drawing their own conclusions about what their strengths were.

    Gruff, I disagree, at least in the context of this discussion. Gary's tonal concept is about being heard over an orchestra. And that concept centers, technically, around bow-speed and placement, along with attitude of course.

    Gary's ergonomic concept is about using all the tools available to us efficiently. Use gravity efficiently -- don't waste work holding the bass up. Use back muscles efficiently -- don't tax a few to do the work that many can do. Use your left-side efficiently -- work to keep your carpal tunnels open and gain power with minimal stress. The goal of Gary's ergonomic approach is injury-free bass playing and that's a goal I hope we all share.

    And again, it's been over 20 years since I last spoke to Gary. All the errors here are mine.
  7. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    That's so right on the money, I couldn't help but try the quote feature myself!
  8. The basis of my pondering.
    Now that I am playing with the bass pretty much straight up and down ala' GK I am much happier.
    Thumb position is much easier to get into, my back and neck don't get beat from moving over the bass and trying to balance it while playing.
    Being able to play in thumb easier has really opened up the fingerboard for me and my ears.

    The only time a question comes into play is when I am in the first 2 positions.
    My wrist doesn't seem to go into a healthy position. It doesn't hurt but as someone who has had problems in the past it makes me ponder.

    Thanks for the input.
  9. hey gruffpuppy are we like twin brothers or something cause i was practising today and thinking EXACTLY the same thing about my left hand wrist as well. also i have come to the same feeling of ease about thumb position and had like an improved personality all day.
    just to reiterate, does anyone find their wrist looking slightly more angular with the upright stance? i did a lot of in front of the mirror pondering today and found that my old stance (bass leant back) had a more even curve to the wrist but much more bend to the elbow. thoughts?
    it all feels pretty cool at the moment so i hope this wrist thing in the lower positions isn't going to cause me a midlife crisis later on.
  10. Maybe, about 5' 11'' 230 with a fondness for nice quality beer?
    I think that may be my problem with my wrist position, beer belly pushes the bass away.
  11. nah i'm 6 foot and will drink anything
  12. cheers to Samuel - i was hoping he would post. love to hear from others on this issue especially David K, Ray Parker etc.

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