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Discomfort while sitting

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by piggywiddle, Sep 7, 2020.


  1. piggywiddle

    piggywiddle Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2017
    I have been playing for 20 years and have always found it incredibly uncomfortable to play seated with a bow, unless I am using a half or 5/8 sized bass. I play mainly French now.

    I find that the G string is too far away from my bow hand and my hips and lower back just don’t feel good. I’ve experimented over the years with different stool heights as well as the angle of the bass but haven’t been successful - I’ve just settled on standing to increase flexibility.

    someone recently told me that started using yoga blocks to prop up their left foot when playing - does anyone else use these?

    curious if anyone else has also found it uncomfortable to play seated. I am 5’6” with short arms.
     
  2. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    I thought that propping up the left leg was de rigeur for sitting. Is this not so?
     
  3. piggywiddle

    piggywiddle Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2017
    depends on your height. I’ve seen many great bassists play with two feet flat on the ground but often they were quite tall and with long arms. I also find it comfy to sit with both feet flat on the ground but then the stool would basically be as low as a regular height chair and still hard to reach the G string.
     
  4. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Hmm. I'm six feet tall and play German, so take that into account, but the way I understood sitting on a stool is that basically you're putting your left "cheek" on the seat, right foot on the floor, and left leg propped up. I've thought about learning to play sitting but there's plenty of other stuff I have to work on, so...
     
    piggywiddle likes this.
  5. Jim Dedrick

    Jim Dedrick Jim Dedrick Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2016
    Port Deposit, MD
    I keep trying to play sitting. Tried different heights, different foot placements, and always go back to standing. I have not tried an angled end pin yet and wonder if when I do will that be more natural in a sitting position.
     
    piggywiddle likes this.
  6. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    My understanding is you don't want the pelvis tilted to one side as this leads to the build up a pressure point and pain. I think that's why I like the KC Strings stool so much. My feet rested on the stand part of the stool, like in this stock image.
    stand-use-100_1415p.jpg

    Also it has a nice wide seat that you can move around on, and the density/hardness of the foam is well chosen IMHO. As a motorcycle rider these are factors I have learned to appreciate. I still have a stock seat on 1 of 3 motorcycles, and after 45 minutes I am ready for a break. I can go much longer on the other bikes.

    One problem with this stool is it is not adjustable so the ergonomics will vary with your body structure. I am 5', 9.5" and have a 30" inseam and 33" sleeve. I felt this was the most comfortable stool I ever used.

    I far preferred playing sitting to standing through hour's long rehearsals and performances. I had played standing exclusively for quite some time so it was a fairly difficult transition to learn to play sitting again. But when I became a pro, learning to play seating became necessary. I find standing for extended period of time very painful.

    I think it took about 2-3 months. Once I got comfortable and was able to relax I found that it opened up my technique a bit and reduced the amount of effort necessary to play as, IMHO, you can use arm weight and core strength more effectively when seated.

    I can still sort of fake playing standing, but I avoid it when possible and don't practice standing so my standing technique is not as strong as my sitting technique.

    During a really long rehearsal day, even the KC Strings stand will start to get a bit uncomfortable. It helps to move around on the stand. Also it helps to stand up for short periods of time while the conductor is working with other sections.
     
    AGCurry and bassobrutto like this.
  7. ILIA

    ILIA

    Jan 27, 2006
    Caprica
    Have you bitten the bullet and purchased your own Wenger to keep at home? If you spend just as much time with individual practice as rehearsal/performance with a group, your home stool should be just as good as the stool at your job. If your orchestra doesn't have Wengers, make a request. It's total BS that bassists would be expected to purchase and drag a Wal-mart bar stool to a rehearsal/performance when the orchestra purchases chairs (usually good Wenger chairs) for the other orchestra musicians to use.

    To answer your question directly, sometimes I bring and use a yoga block, if I know that the stool provided for me at a gig is a lousy stool.
     
  8. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    I have used a Wenger that looked like this:
    bassist-percussion-chair.jpg

    This is a nice stool but I preferred the KC Strings stool.

    I have also used the Roc N So Tympani throne or something very similar
    =tbn%3AANd9GcTb4hcvyCC4LbI0mnvS8L5MikHAuB40JLqMWnbVADAKOVpDNCAcVzE9ot2vcf8RhcmELCUr11Kc&usqp=CAc.jpg

    I think I like this better than the Wenger. The quality of the foam was bit better and the contoured saddle was more comfortable. Still not as good for me as the KC Strings Stool.

    The KC Strings stool breaks down into flat panels, and you can order a bag with shoulder straps so it is easy to carry. Both of the other stools are very big and bulky, and fairly difficult to transport in a passenger vehicle with an upright bass.
     
    John Le Guyader likes this.
  9. ILIA

    ILIA

    Jan 27, 2006
    Caprica
    I have a KC Strings stool too. It doesn't work well for me as a stool, but it's a great bass rack.
     
    Wasnex likes this.
  10. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    Are the dimensions unsuitable to your body, or is there something else about the stool you do not like?

    The benefit of the other stools in post #8 is the height is adjustable. However, I believe the foot support of the Wenger is at a fixed distance from the seat; I.E. both go up and down at the same time.

    I believe with the Roc N Soc tympanic throne, the foot ring is stationary and the seating platform can be raised or lowered. The Roc N Soc would be my 2nd choice, but a real pain to transport. I have used the regular Roc N Soc percussion stools and they are fairly easy to transport, but I think upright players generally want a taller stool.
     
  11. ILIA

    ILIA

    Jan 27, 2006
    Caprica
    The KC Strings Bass stool is nonadjustable, so I can't make it conform to my posture. I didn't buy it for its stool functionality. It's a wonderful bass rack.In an emergency, I could use it as a stool, but it comes nowhere near the comfort, usability, and function of a Wenger bass stool, for me, at least.
     
    Wasnex likes this.
  12. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I use the yoga block (under my left foot). It is much better for balance and back support than hooking your foot on the rung of a stool. I know several LA Phil do this, and I believe Joel Quarrington does as (who plays a pretty broad Maggini). The advantage for the stool, if the angle of the bass is "right" is that (a) your left hand is i a better relationship to the left shoulder; and the bow arm is coming down on the string as opposed to pulling across as when standing. You use more arm weight and less pressure.
     
    Chris Fitzgerald and Wasnex like this.
  13. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    Totally understandable, and I tried to make it clear in my post that the KC String stool may no be ergonomically ideal for everyone.

    As far as comfort during sitting, perhaps people should consider the question independently of the whether they are holding an instrument or not. When I was much younger I worked in game room and was on my feet all day. I found it was very hard on my body. Sitting for an extended time is also hard on the body. IMHO ideally I like to mix it up, but I would rather sit for an extended time than stand.

    Also, as I previously mentioned, once one finds a comfortable approach to the bass while seated, it may expand and enhance one's technique...it did for me. But I worked with a very good instructor for quite awhile before I could get comfortable, and to be honest I almost gave up out of frustration. Part of it was being in the habit of playing while standing. It takes time for the body and mind to adjust and adapt to the new way, and forget it's preference for the old way.

    My suggestion would be to commit to playing exclusively in a seated position for at least six months before you really judge whether it has potential merit. If you alternate between sitting and standing, you will (IMHO) reinforce your connection to playing on your feet, and it will hinder the transition. Also if possible, take lessons from someone who can help approach the instrument properly and play with maximum efficiency.
     
  14. Co.

    Co.

    Sep 10, 2006
    Germany
    Do you know this?
    http://www.ergobass.de/
    It can help to balance the bass with your left knee, while not having to get into uncomfortable body positions. Both feet can stay on the ground. Any seat hight and bass angle is possible.
    Very helpful for smaller players with large instruments.
     
    piggywiddle and paulunger like this.
  15. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I also use one of those (Ergobass) when practicing. Very helpful. Shifts the weight off the knee and shoulder etc;; I believe Quarrington also uses it.
     
    piggywiddle likes this.
  16. CaseyVancouver

    CaseyVancouver

    Nov 4, 2012
    Joel Quarrington sits on a low stool with both feet on the floor. His ideal stool height is 61-66 cm (24-26”) depending on the bass he chooses.

    The days of the bass section with every bassist on a high stool with left foot high on a rung seems old fashioned today.
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  17. paulunger

    paulunger Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2002
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I strongly endorse the Ergo Bass.
     
    piggywiddle likes this.
  18. piggywiddle

    piggywiddle Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2017
    have you ever met Joel or seen him play? I know him well and I’ve never seen him play with both feet flat on the floor - usually one foot is slightly elevated on the rung of a stool.
     
    CaseyVancouver likes this.
  19. CaseyVancouver

    CaseyVancouver

    Nov 4, 2012
    I was going from memory of what I read. I see now he does not actually say he keeps both feet flat on the floor. Thanks!

    A low stool with a foot on a rung? Seems curious.


    6B64E495-2251-45AA-8BAF-496137115621.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  20. paulunger

    paulunger Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2002
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Joel uses the Ergo Bass now, too.
     
    piggywiddle likes this.

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