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extensions?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Classical_Thump, Nov 25, 2005.


  1. Classical_Thump

    Classical_Thump

    Jan 26, 2005
    I have seen very few double basses with what I assume to be "low C extensions". So far all I have been able to discern about them is that they lower the range of the double bass. I am curious as to how they work, how they are played, how they are used, and just any general information about them. thank you
     
  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I have read and written several posts on extensions as well as Surveys on them and Ext. vs. 5ers... To speed up your learning process read these 82 threads and who knows how many posts; http://www.talkbass.com/forum/search.php?searchid=1618170

    After you read these posts and exchanges between those with experience and those seeking it we can discuss actual usage of it. I have owned 2 types of Extensions and just ordered a 3rd type which should be the best of both worlds. When playing a rapid passage from high to low across the strings or jumping and changing octaves, nothing beats a 5-string. The only draw back is you need to get used to it so you play it as a 4 until you need the B.
     
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
  4. Classical_Thump

    Classical_Thump

    Jan 26, 2005
    sorry, i must have been searching for the wrong thing
     
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    My links dont work now. Why is that. They worked b4.. I searched the word 'extension' in both 'Basses' and 'Orchestra technique' . try that.
     
  6. Classical_Thump

    Classical_Thump

    Jan 26, 2005
    I looked through most of the searches, but no thread really explained excatly how one uses the extension. I understand that some are mechanical and some manual but how exactly do you use them and how do they work?
     
  7. jvillarreal

    jvillarreal

    Oct 7, 2002
    Tulsa, OK
    Thumper - There are basically 2 (or 3) kinds of extensions; mechanical, fingered (and chromatic fingered). They all have a piece of wood that extends the fingerboard on the E string to a C, and sometimes B. The way they differ is how the half-steps are stopped. In a mechanical extension (a la Stenholm which you can find now at Lemur Music), there is a mechanism screwed onto the body of the extension that has fingers which stop the half-steps - these fingers are actuated by keys below the bass' real nut. A fingered extension has an E string stop, but the other half-steps have to be played with your own fingers by reaching back behind the nut. A chromatic fingered extension has stoppers, or "gates", for all the half-steps. You still have to reach back there, but not so often.

    It really is personal preference which extension you go with. None of these options are really condusive to fast, low passages - a 5'er is best for this. But, you can get around back there with some practice. I'm personally partial to the chromatic fingered extension because depending what key you are playing in, and what the lowest note will be, you can just lock down one of those half-steps. My teacher likes, and uses the mechanical extension. If you are doing the fugue in Zarathustra, I think the best would be the mechanical because the notes change in the middle of the line down there, and the tempo is not fast. Some people like the regular fingered extension because if it's simplicity.

    Let us know what you go with, who made it and post some pics!:)
     
  8. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    A few months ago we played Beeth's 5th. One part goes(@1/2 note = 80-90 or so) A___F___EFEDC___,repeat,etc.. With a 4 string Bass you would play the D and C up an octave. For me, I was using a Fingered Extension. I used the open A(half note), Fingered the F on the e-string (half note) with the 4th finger and then played the E with the 2nd finger (where the nut would be (8th notes here), F with the 4th, E with 2nd again and then shift/pivot fast to the D in the middle of the Ext. and then open C (half) on the Ext (1/2 note again). This repeats 3x each time it comes up in the 3rd movement(I think it's the 3rd). There are some other places in this piece to use the Ext. but this is the only hard one.

    I now have a 5 string Bass and would be able to play this much easier. I guess the term double bass is in true form here where the Basses play the exact same part as the Cellos. I bet then in Beethoven’s time they tuned in 5ths, had 5-string Basses for this piece or played it up on the C and D notes for those without the lower notes.

    I am currently lining up all of my Orchestra Basses to be fitted with Chromatic/Latched Fingered Extensions. If there are just a few things to play with the extension, fine I'll do it. If there are a lot of moving parts I will bring a 5-string. I played the Trout last year and this year with a Chamber Group. It has a few Octave jumps with Cs and Ds and maybe D-flats?. Anyway, the first time I used a 4-string and doubled the note in the same octave.. Boring! Then, I saw Hal Robinson play is with a Chamber group and he uses a Latched Chromatic Fingered Extension like the one I am getting. He would pre-fix the latches to the notes he had to play for the Octave thing. Looked and sounded great. Then this year I played it with a 5-string Bass and found it great to play it like that except I had to reach one string Lower to get the Note. I guess the Ext. would have been easier on the Bow for this one and less travel distance to the Lows as well..

    So, it's a new Bass once you start playing those lower notes that you have played up an octave all your life. In talking with Hal after the concert I mentioned how hard it was to finger those eighth notes in cut-time in the Beethoven. He remarked 'sometimes it's just not worth it'. Meaning it isn't always best to jump done and play on Bridge cables at 80 miles an hour and try being in tune, in time and the notes coming off the bow.. I think?

    I have a friend in another Orchestra and he is the only one in the section with a 4-string. There is one 5er and the rest have Extensions. He says that sometimes the Principal will have only 1/2 go down. Sometimes he will do that on some note even written up to fill out the section. I do that as well when I bring a 5er. I sometimes play an octave lower to fatten up the sound of the Basses. Feels great when I do it. The Conductor must not give you any looks or you know you are in the wrong. Last week we had a returning conductor for the Christmas concert. Not a singe low note written, so I added a few..lol. After rehearsal I cleared it with him as he was fine how and where I played the sub lows. It makes you feel like you have a True Double Bass when you can go down a full octave below the Cellos.. +1, with the 5er..
     
  9. Classical_Thump

    Classical_Thump

    Jan 26, 2005
    Thanks for the info guys. Let me just clear this up: if you bow the E string and unlatch the extension, the extension string will vibrate as if part of the E string? Also, Ken, what did you mean by a "true double bass"? thanks again
     
  10. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Un-latch the E-string with an Extension and you have the Low C sounding. The String is actually called a E/C String.

    The Bass of the String Family is actually the Cello. In books on Strad they refer to his Cellos as his Basses like the 'Duport' Bass and the 'Davidoff' Bass, ect. In the Book by the Hill Bros. on Strad there is a section on his Cellos. In there many are referred to as 'Basses'. The Double Bass got its name from playing the same part doubling the Cellos. If the Bass goes only down to E is is not complete unless it hits an octave below the Cellos' Low C. That's what I meant by a TRUE Double Bass!
     
  11. Classical_Thump

    Classical_Thump

    Jan 26, 2005
    I thought it was something along those lines.
     
  12. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Maybe it's just me but if you look at a photo of an extension is a gated (non-mechanical) extension, is it not pretty damn obvious how it works? It's just basically a longer string and you have latches that stop the string at certain points.
     
  13. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Sorry to post an entire Page but I don't know how to show individual pics. Here's a gated Ext. just completed by Arnold on my Martini; http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/MartiniBass/martini_bass_2.htm

    I used it in Concert Sunday and I snuck in as much sub-Bass notes as I could in our Christmas Concert. I think this plays as easy as a Fingered Ext. when fingering and works great to stop a single note as well.
     
  14. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
  15. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    I feel your pain.