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Doublers: Considering giving one up?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by bassgeek, Apr 29, 2003.

  1. bassgeek


    Oct 19, 2000
    Asheville, NC

    To the doublers on the board, have you ever considered giving one up to concentrate on just one bass? I've often thought of giving up the electric so I could work on the upright. The musical progress (theory, ear training, etc.) could occur simultaneously while playing both basses, but the physical and technical requirements of each bass might interfere with each other from time to time. It hasn't seem to hurt Patittucci, McBride, etc., though.
    A quote from the liner notes of Dave Liebman's album, "The Tree", got me thinking of dropping one of the axes for a while.
    Liebman, who began concentrating solely on the soprano sax in 1980, but is back to using the tenor as well, said this:
    "It became obvious to me that once you get to a certain point you can't spread your energy among two or three instruments, which is what I was doing. You just don't make any progress on any of them. It's a physical thing. You'd like to have total rapport with your instrument-it has to feel like your left arm. So it seemed to me that the best thing I could do-to further my evolution as a musician-was to concentrate on one."

    Sorry for the long post, just something to think about.
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I've pretty much "given up" Plank to better learn how to play the Doghouse. I still double a bit in my original group, but I only practice the big bass these days. I also gave up piano (which I had been doing professionally for years) to focus on DB. That was a hell of a lot harder than giving up Slab.
  3. I play electric bass, but I don't really consider myself a doubler. If I get a call for electric bass(which is rare), I'll dust it off and take it to the gig. About 5 minutes of warming up gets me to the place I need to be technically. .

    Mind you, I'm not emulating Victor Wooten or anything -- just the occasional wedding schtick or musical show.

    I find that practicing double bass is really more than enough to get me by on EB. Playing the double bass is like swinging two bats: going the the EB is a breeze. (Historical note: I've read stories about guys like Milt Hinton who were presented with a "Fender bass" for the first time at recording session and laid down the track on the spot with no problem).

    Though had the advantage of learning the doghouse first, there was a very dark period in my past when electric bass was my main focus (can you say Jaco Pastorius? I knew that you could). If I got a call for double bass, I would have to practice scales for a week before the gig.

    To answer your question: I could jettison playing the EB and not lose too much sleep over it. (I would, oddly enough, have trouble parting with the instrument itself -- a '66 Jazz bass, Shoreline gold, which I've had since I was 17. Great sentimental value to me.)
  4. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    I don't play my EB at all anymore. I've even thought about selling my G&L but, probably won't just because it may become valuable to someone else someday.
  5. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    When I play EB these days it feels like a little toy. That is one of the beauties of playing DB.

    My problem is not having the jam to sell my fretted EB. It's a beautiful old Warwick Thumb, but it don't pay its way any more. It's kind of a lot of money to hang on the wall but it sounds and feels so good I can't imagine not having it.

    I'm not hard-hearted enough for this bizness...
  6. AJ Love

    AJ Love

    Oct 8, 2002
    Madison WI USA
    i only play eletric bass, for that very reason, to concentrate on just one instrument...so I just play "toy bass" ;)

    I also used to play guitar as well, but gave that up too...I just want to advance as far as I can on one instrument, instead of dividing my study time up with multiple instruments

    my admiration goes out to those who can play more than one instrument
  7. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    My favorite Luthier, Stan Benkeweicz at Noll Guitars in Warwick RI, and I had a discussion about this last week. He said his stock portfolio was tanked, but he told his wife that his collection of guitars and basses were his life insurance policy.

    I guess if you have more of them, they are easier to part with. For investment value, they seem to be doing better than a lot of other items, the underlying assumption being that the caliber of players here has no difficulty identifying pieces of collectible quality, of which here is little doubt.

    I'm a good sales guy, but convincing my wife that spending 10k on basses as an investment vehicle might be a bit of a stretch ... well, let me restate that as her response would be more like ' to the moon Big O-man ...'
  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Nope; wouldn't be prudent at this juncture. I'm off to the studio this morning to make a coupla hundred clams for almost no work, so the slab stays for the time being. Ask me again after I get the mortgage paid off.
  9. I've found that I can keep up my skills on the plank by only playing it at band rehearsals and gigs. I save my practice time almost exclusively for DB, although I have been known to work on transcriptions on my fretless.
  10. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    I double and wouldn't ever consider giving up either. They're both too much fun.
  11. Agreed! I love playing DB, but the feel of that musicman a couple of times a week is full of joy too. I practice DB because that's where I have to keep technique progressing, but in the end, the most important thing to keep out in front of me is the idea of music, not an instrument (sounds lofty, but in reality I am SO attached to Bass as a general principle).

  12. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
    Reviving an old thread. IIRC, DURRL has given up slab entirely. Not sure about Marcus Johnson. Does anyone have new ideas or experiences reagarding this thread?

    I'm finally hitting the point where I have more DB gigs than BG gigs, although the BG gigs usually pay better. I keep thinking about digging one deep well instead of a bunch of potholes; mulling over a more DB focused effort for at least the next few years.
  13. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    A lot of of folks aren't sure about Marcus Johnson....

    I still own two slabs, but I can't remember the last time I used either one of them. It might possibly be that it was the session that I mentioned earlier, on April 30, 2003. My fretless Steinberger, I'm not even sure where it is... under the bed, maybe?

    So I guess I'm pretty much a double bassist by trade. I'll still play the slabs if someone wants to pay me to.
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Exactly my reasoning behind playing only DB. Piano is still tempting from time to time, slab not at all.
  15. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    I play frets when I get paid. I don't practice it any more. I play Baby Bass because I love the Tumbao. It's a meditation. Truly though the big wood DB has stolen my heart. I can't put it down on a gig and pick up a Fender. It's like moving from a dance with God to training wheels on a Schwinn. ...And I still suck at it.
  16. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I couldn't dream of giving up either. All of my practice time is devoted to DB, though. I don't play BG often -- fretted even less so -- actually, last night I was falling asleep listening to Marcus Miller's version of "Moonlight Sonata" and got so inspired by his playing that I did my first slab practice in a month -- first FRETTED slab practice in 2.5 months! I have long since reached a plateau of technique on slab where I'd have to work with a lot of focus for a long time (months) to improve it noticeably, and the only problem I sometimes encounter is a bit of fretbuzz in overshooting since I long ago became used to the 42.5" mensure on my DB.

    Just started my slab lessons again tonight. I have them in a store, so naturally, I chill out before and after lessons and check out the merchandise. As the only DB they have is a Cremona strapped to the ceiling, I always play the slabs and jazzbox guitars. Well, it just so happens that I came upon a Yamaha TRB4-II for $900 CAD. I'm calling tomorrow to put it on layaway.

    As little time as they actually get, my slabs serve their own purposes. I've got a passive fretless Yamaha (BB404F, strung with Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Rounds,) a heavily modded Samick fretted with an active preamp, and soon to be a Yamaha TRB4-II which will be my main fretted. After I get it, the Samick will become a tenor bass (something I've wanted to do for AGES.) Also, a nice note -- the TRB I'm getting has a 35" scale, and I didn't encounter ANY fretbuzz problems due to overshooting (just a poor setup ;).)

    See, now if only I could get 2 more DBs -- one strung up with Spiro E and A with Eudoxa Flatchrome D and G (jazz,) another with really nice orchestral strings and a fingered extension for classical work, and another with mile-high guts for bluegrass. Now THAT would be phenomenal.

    All in all, it would be much easier for me to give up the slab. It's my accomplishment. The DB is, however, a lifelong challenge and love.
  17. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Never would I give up electric bass...electric's made me much money over the years. But I haven't done too much practicing on it lately.
  18. Samie


    Dec 13, 2000
    Madrid, Spain

    That is the main clue. Once you obtain a certain level on the electric you can keep 80% of that level by working just on the DB. 90% if you are actually studing progresions, theory, jazz, reading etc.

    I have only been playing DB almost a year. In that time I did not practice with the electric at all. My chops on the EB actually got better(!). I think its because it seems a lot easier after working so hard to get a sound on the DB, an acoustic instrument with lesser shortcuts.

    Even the wooten-pastorious thing, its still there, more or less where it was. :eyebrow:
  19. Hey All, I totally agree that dropping all other instruments to focus on DB is the wiser choice (at least for me) anytime i'm at a jam and some dude's got an EB or guitar (been playing those for 16 years) it's literally like playing a stick of butter, the necks are so teeny weeny and there's these frets all over the place which seem to make things simpler for some reason :>) all in all I notice that I definately don't lose anything on the guit/Elec Bass...my skills tend to stay the same or improve slightly as I seem to tear them to shreds.....even when I played elec guit alot in the past, I would never practice on that, but grab an acoustic w/high action to really make it sing, then the elec would be all butter, the best instrument for me to improve DB playing is congas/bongos/timbales.....when there's no DB around that's the first thing I grab
  20. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I just stopped hearing BG. The only reason that I was still playing it was because I got paid to, but that stopped being enough of a reason quite a few years back. Anytime I was getting paid to play BG, I was also getting paid to play music that I didn't care about very much. I guess if I wasn't working a daygig that would be more important to me, but since I do I was severely demotivated to play stupid music on an instrument I didn't want to play.

    I dunno, BASHGREEK. If you still hear and dig electric and still play music that you dig on it, I would probably just try to find enough time to practice both (or shed serially, which is what guys like JP talk about doing). But if you're making your decision based on stuff that you read or stuff that somebody said or any other reason than that is precisely and exactly what your heart wants, I don't think that devoting yourself to one instrument is going to have the desired effect. Because it's not the desired effect, dig?