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Electric bass to upright bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Nick303, Jun 26, 2014.


  1. Nick303

    Nick303

    Jun 9, 2013
    Hello, has anyone out there tried to progress to an upright bass from an electric bass? If so, how did you go about it and how did you get on with it? What advice would you offer to someone who is considering doing so?
     
  2. They're totally different instruments. Make sure you take lessons. DB isn't really an instrument you can teach yourself.
     
    maestrovert and lakefx like this.
  3. Dogbertday

    Dogbertday Commercial User

    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    Blaine Music LLC
    +1 otherwise you have a high chance of hurting yourself
     
    maestrovert likes this.
  4. Nick303

    Nick303

    Jun 9, 2013
    Sounds dangerous, can you explain that to me a bit more fully?
     
  5. Dogbertday

    Dogbertday Commercial User

    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    Blaine Music LLC
    It takes much more strength to play DB than BG and if you use essentially the same technique (due to teaching yourself) you'll strain your hand badly and repeatedly causing serious damage. Only an in person teacher can really guide you through this.
     
    maestrovert likes this.
  6. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Also, being a longer scale, it uses different fingerings.
     
  7. Nick303

    Nick303

    Jun 9, 2013
    Ok cool, essentially it's tuned the same though yeah and technique aside I can apply what I know of the electric bass to the upright, right?
     
  8. REV

    REV

    Jun 18, 2006
    They really are like two different instruments. Typically you will use a lot more open strings playing upright than a slab bass. The typical electric bass techniques don't transfer well to upright, so getting a good teacher is helpful so that you don't get into bad habits. As far as hurting yourself goes, that would probably come from using an upright bass that is not set up properly.
     
  9. samson3382

    samson3382

    Apr 26, 2009
    Boise, Idaho
    I did it on my own, about two or three years ago. Though I'm looking into lessons at the moment.
     
  10. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Yes, they're tuned the same! All the notes in the same places, music theory is the same.
    The aspect of physically playing it is 100% different though.
    You may not need further education on what to play, but, you sure will need new education on how to do it.

    For me, I bought several method books
    simandl, rufus reid, and ray brown as a start
    and took several lessons from several teachers here on the mechanics of actually holding the bass and playing it/making it sound good.
     
    maestrovert and Nick303 like this.
  11. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    It is tuned the same (EADG). When I was in college years ago, I fooled around with one. But from what I have been told, the fingerings are different, because you just cannot move from 34-35" to 42". You may want to post over on the DB side.
     
    maestrovert and Nick303 like this.
  12. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    When I was a senior in high school the orchestra director came to me and said "I heard you play electric bass." I said that I did; he said "Good, that means you can play the double bass. Rehearsals are every day at 1:00." And bingo, I was suddenly a double bass player.

    ...though not necessarily a very good one. But I jumped in the deep end, and got pretty competant on it. Never got any formal instruction, just emulated the one other bassist in the orchestra (who was an All-State champ) when it came to figuring out what to do with the bow. I applied electric bass fingering and never injured myself.

    Alas, I didn't keep it up after I went away to college. But for that one year it was an incredibly rewarding experience, and I often wish I'd stuck with it (though that was impractical, since I drove a Volkswagen Beetle!)
     
    Nick303 likes this.
  13. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Yes, the fingers are different, especially in the lowest and highest positions.
    Simandl will cover some of this. Really, each of those books do, to an extent.

    A Teacher is good!
     
    Nick303 likes this.
  14. Neuroman

    Neuroman BHPD - Forget about me. Save yourselves! Supporting Member

    Oct 17, 2013
    Sunol, CA
    Purchase an upright electric - NS design if you can afford it. This will make a HUGE difference. You will be able to transition to the upright feel and angles without having to address the thumb positioning and typically difficult string set ups and responses which can be so hard on your fingers and wrists.

    I found early on that most basses which you can afford are going to be more difficult to play - more force required to get resonance from the strings and sustain in too short of supply. I longed for the buttery feel, growl and sustain of the $30K German carved tops but that is just not a reality for me. You truly get what you pay for when it comes to upright basses in my experience. The playability and tone of the NS Design uprights will inspire you to practice because they sound and play so darned good without such extreme shifts in fingering and effort/strain. After you make this transition, a move to the next level - a bodied upright requiring thumb fingering positions will be alot less difficult (if you still want to do it).

    Just a thought.

    You are going to have a blast!!!!
     
    maestrovert and Nick303 like this.
  15. bluesdogblues

    bluesdogblues

    Nov 13, 2007
    (just like bass 'guitar' or any musical instruments) While it is good to have a good Double Bass teacher, but just like 'bass guitar', it is not impossible to be selflearner in Doule Bass and achieve good result. I have some friends who are very good (albeit self-taught) Double Bass players, either they come from bass guitar, or not.

    Anyway, many good advices here... Wish you luck on your journey in learning the Double Bass :D
     
    Nick303 likes this.
  16. megafiddle

    megafiddle

    May 25, 2011
    I took up the upright a few years ago. I had my first lesson before I even got the bass home.
    You really do need someone to get you started. As everyone said, it is a different instrument.

    About the only thing you can apply is your musical knowledge. Both left and right hand techniques
    are going to be different from electric.

    For practicing, I found bluegrass, country, and folk music to be good for playing along with.
    You will be spending most of the time on technique and intonation at first. A simple bass part
    let's you concentrate on that.

    There is also a couple of excellent videos on the interweb. I'll take a look for them. They are
    a good source of information, and you can at least see what's involved. I strongly recommend
    a few lessons to get started though.

    -
     
    Nick303 likes this.
  17. megafiddle

    megafiddle

    May 25, 2011
    I found them. Copied this from one of my own posts:

    This is one of the best videos I've ever seen:



    Also check out John Clayton's Bass Tips, also on youtube.

    -
     
    maestrovert and Nick303 like this.
  18. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    I did the same thing a few years ago at the then ripe old age of 47.

    Just like the USA and the UK are two great countries separated by a common language, double bass and electric bass are two great instruments separated by a common tuning. +1 to what has been said above. It is imperative that a player gets proper fundamentals taught to avoid injury and be able to intone a note correctly and accurately. After that, go for it!

    Here's the comparison: Yes, electric bass has been around over fifty years. Double bass has been around over five hundred years. Ten times the length of time to weed out bad technique and learn what really works on an upright.
     
  19. Nick303

    Nick303

    Jun 9, 2013
    Wow, thanks for the responses. Lots to think about. If I buy one it will be absolute entry-level, but I'm a big chap and have large strong mitts.
    I will check out everything you've said though.
     
  20. lz4005

    lz4005

    Oct 22, 2013
    It seems strange, saying that you need a beginner lesson on how to hold the instrument, no matter how long you've been playing electric, but it's true. It is very easy to strain your fingers and arms if you play an upright the wrong way.

    When I started playing upright I hurt my left thumb so badly the first day I ended up having to wear a splint on it for almost a month.

    Even one lesson with a good teacher concentrating on how you physically interact with the instrument, and making sure that your bass fits you properly, will be well worth it.
     
    7dollarbologna and maestrovert like this.

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