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Edgar Meyer five stringing it!

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by Paul Warburton, Dec 19, 2003.

  1. Last night on PBS, " Live From Lincoln Center " I was excited to see listed in my TV guide " The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presents Bach's Complete Brandenburg Concertos "
    I wasn't too shocked to see Edgar Meyer playing DB, but was startled to see him without his little Gabrielli solo bass! He was playing a sizable dark colored five stringer! Bob Ross told me that he had talked to Edgar after one of his concerts, and Meyer told him about this fiver.
    Do any of you guys know what tuning he's using?
    Strange tunings mean nothing to this guy, so I wouldn't even offer a guess. I'm thinking he was using a higher tuning at least for the first string, because visually and note wise, he never seemed to go up the fingerboard any higher than the D harmonic on the G string. ( or what would be the G if he was tuning that way)
    ALL these mothers could play and if you missed it, try to catch a repeat!!
  2. My daily television consumption amounts to one-half hour of the Food Network (love that Alton Brown), so this missed my radar completely.

    The Brandenburgs are hands down some of my favorite music on (or off) this planet. I hope some kind and enterprising soul at Lincoln Center has the presence of mind to offer this as a DVD. Meanwhile, I'll check local listings and have my VHS ready.

    Lord knows what tuning EM is using. I'm listening to his Cello Suites right now for the umpteenth time, and I'm still amazed at the fluency and ease of his technique.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Presumably he wasn't playing any solos - as there are none for DB in the Brandenburg Concerti and therefore he was in the 'Continuo - so maybe he was going for a more "authentic" performance?

    So - 5-string Double Basses were standard in the 1700s - Double Bassist magazine had a big feature on a 5-string bass from this time.

    I can well imagine that a larger bass would give him the right sort of volume to balance well in the size of chamber ensemble required for this.
  4. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I'm glad to have someone else do a post on this with a little more stroke than I can muster with ones and zeros, cause it was great. They played it twice on the San Antonio PBS station, and I didn't forget to preserve the memory the second time around.

    My teacher told me once that he watched Edgar transpose a whole step down from his solo tuned bass to play orchestra-tuning excerpts without blinking an eye. He didn't have to retune his bass at all. So who knows?

    I was griping to my teacher about playing even the simplest Bach transcriptions during my lessons and feeling compelled to be in tune as perfectly as possible else the lines would completely fall apart. He told me that's part of what Bach's music is about - much gets exposed when one plays his music. Now I see I haven't even scratched the surface yet.
  5. Hey, they don't call it the "genius" grant for nuthin'.

    Actually, wind players do this kind of thing de rigueur, as I'm sure Edgar would point out.
  6. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I'm sure Edgar Meyer has an intimate knowledge of the fingerboard already, so leaving it all at solo tuning and taking advantage of a 5th string or extension makes lots of sense. To me it just comes down to the natural harmonic pitches you want to replace your stopped notes with (if any).

    Can't be any more painful than tuning in 5ths, though people like Joel Quarrington and Red Mitchell sure do make a strong argument for it in their playing.
  7. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I too saw part of that show the other night. On a few of the endings of cadences he played low'C' to low'F' with the first finger in half position. This would lead me to believe that his 5-string was tuned in fourths from low 'B' to regular 'G'.
    I too am curious to find out what kind of Bass it was he was playing.
  8. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    I was over at Horst Grunert's shop in Penzberg in March of '02. That bass Edgar was playing was a dead ringer for a couple fivers I saw there. To me it had the look of a tastefully antiqued new bass, in a Bohemian or Bavarian style. For some serious "drool", take a look at Horst's website at www.gruenert.com Anyone who finds himself in southern Germany should stop by Grunert's shop for the head-spin factor. Two men. A HUGE stash of wood. An enormous, well-equipped shop. Trees come in one end--cellos and basses go out the other. Prolific and talented makers...BTW, I agree with Ken that it looked like Edgar was playing in standard tuning, though I could not tell what his lowest string was tuned to. Excellent concert!
  9. Hey Guys,
    This I took from Bass Player Mag. Nov. 2002 where Edgar was interviewed. Kinda long but this was written in the "gear" section of the interview. I`ll revise it so to keep it shorter...

    Edgar Meyer`s main solo bass is a 1769 Gabrielli made in Florence, Italy, and modified in recent years by Dan Hachez at Robertson & Sons in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hachez added a new fingerboard (complete with boxwood position dots) as well as an extension that gives Edgar four notes below low E on the bottom String. Meyer normally uses a modified solo tuning-EBEA- on the 40 7/8-String length Gabrielli, but he brings in the low C on both concertos. Nashville bassist/Luthier Jim Ferguson did Edgar`s set-up. He uses Thomastik Spirocores on the bottom strings and Flexcores on the top. Edgar`s other Basses are an 18th-century Bohemian 5-string (41 1/2 string length), which he praises for its "incredible" low B, and a 1933 Robert Jager (41 7/8). Meyer keeps the 5-string in New York, where he plays it with the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center; the Jager resides in Nashville. "Its the Bass I grew up with, and I like it a lot. I played it on tour with Wynton Marsalis, and I would use it if I were playing with Drums or really bassy guitars."

    All Well thought you guys might be interested..