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Double bass "balancing"

Discussion in 'Ask Patrick Neher [Archive]' started by fclef ed, Jan 2, 2007.

  1. fclef ed

    fclef ed

    Dec 30, 2005
    Tarrytown, NY
    Patrick. I've been playing BG for some 30 years, upright for about 5. I'm still having trouble balancing the double bass. I can manage well when playing pizzicato, except when trying to play fast passages. I think it's because my hands are holding up the bass, as opposed to my body supporting the bass entirely. I would think total body support would free up my hands to just play instead of support. The problem gets worse when I bow, because my right hand no longer helps support the bass ( not that it should anyway). I've tried getting my left leg behind the bass to support it, but that feels awkward. I'm either standing on my left toes or trying to stand on my left heel with my toes pointing upward onto the back of the bass.

    Do you have any suggestions for proper support? Also bass height? right now I feel comfortable when the "F" of the E string is parallel to my eye. (I don't care for sitting while I Play):meh:
  2. PNeher


    Mar 31, 2005
    Bellingham, WA
    Hi Eddie,
    Seems to me that if you do not already, you need a teacher to observe what you are doing and make suggestions for improvement. The thing about balancing the bass is that each bass is different as is each player so a teacher must assess the individual qualities and shapes of each to get them to work together in a balanced manner. There are numerous techniques and motions that effect the balance, and I believe you must be observed for not only stance but how you move around the bass. So, there is no easy "This is what you need to do" answer. I or any teacher would have to look at what you are doing to help. Perhaps you can send me a DVD or VHS of your playing and we can go from there, but more simple is to get a local instructor (he/she does not have to be a bass player, but this person needs to be a good observer of motion and balance).
    Sounds like you have it at the right height. Ask yourself what the "correct" playing angle(s) is/are for you where your arms are both free to move around the instrument. You do NOT want to support the bass with either hand (in pizz or arco) or anywhere on the arm (Left). The bass should be supported with the hips/waist/belly and when in thumb positions the neck of the bass should come to your shoulder (not you put the shoulder to the bass) while still contacting the waist. Avoid holding the bass with the knee, thereby stressing one leg more than another. Avoid locking the hip in/on one side or other. Equal weight on both legs is what I profess (tho' there are plenty of stance techniques that differ with this opinion), with a "straight" back (yours) in general. Try holding/playing the bass (with the bow) and looking straight up to the sky/ceiling. See what that does to the balance and posture. Observe others and perhaps look at some photos of bassists (lots on my web sites.. just put my name in any search engine)
    Good Luck! And we can continue this.....

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