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Fighting the bass

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Gsxtasy99, Apr 9, 2004.

  1. Gsxtasy99


    Jul 10, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I am rather new to upright, i played on and off in highschool in the orchestra and in jazz band and combos. I have always thought of myself as primarily an electric player, so i never put much practice into the big bass. I had a teacher and used the simandel method. I'm in college now, my practice habits are a lot better, and i have much more desire to play upright.

    My problem is playing on the E string. I am perfectly comfortable playing on the G, D, and A, but i feel like i am fighting the bass just to press the string down for a low F or G. Is this an issue of just practicing lots and building up left hand strengh? Or is there a trick to playing the E string comfortably?
  2. From similar experiences, here are the things I have come across in my travails:

    1) One time, my bridge got knocked to the side a little (I didn't notice) and my E string was too close to the edge of the fingerboard, making it difficult to play.

    2) When I first got my bass, the action was WAY too high, making the E string hard to play.

    3) Strings can make a big difference. What kind are you using?
  3. Gsxtasy99


    Jul 10, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I have spriocore wiechs (sp?) on there. I had pirastro permanants on there before, they were a little easier on the hands but had a poor pizzacto sound. I had the bass setup and had a new bridge put on in this fall by Rutgers in boston. Hopefully the terrible boston weather didn't undo thier work...:confused:
  4. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    Much of it is probably due to the fact that you are new to the bass, but I would suggest maybe spending a few bucks on at least a couple of lessons to get someone to look at what you are doing just to make sure you won't have to break formed habits later as you develop.
  5. Gsxtasy99


    Jul 10, 2003
    Boston, MA

    I have every intention of taking lessons again, don't worry about that. I was just trying to get my chops back first. I took about 9 months off because i didn't have my bass with me at school. I had it shipped here this fall, and have just recently been bitten by the upright bug. I didn't want to waste a teachers time when i would be unable to practice for more than half an hour a day b/c my hands hurt.

    I know how my left hand SHOULD look when i'm playing, my first teacher made a very big deal about that. I know my technique isn't perfect, but i work on it. I was just curious if practice will make the "E" string more comfortable, or if there was some trick to playing it I didn't know.
  6. basstuhd


    Apr 9, 2004
    Of course practice will help build strength, but don't think that playing through the pain will solve your problems. That theory works with callouses, but with wrists and hands it can cause tendinitis and carpal tunnel. The problem may have to do with strength, but that low in the register would prompt me to ask if the nut is cut correctly. The test a lot of players and luthiers use is to slip a business card under the e string just at the nut. It should just slide in. A nut that leaves the strings too high at the top of the fingerboard is a common cause of left hand problems. If that's it, it shouldn't cost too much to correct.
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    It's not so much about the hand, but about the whole body. If you are using your arm weight and drawing your power from the sholder, back, and torso, then pressing down any string shouldn't be a problem. The trap many people fall into with the lower strings is not adjusting the arm/shoulder angle to keep the line of "power" (from the larger muscle groups) intact. If you try to play the E by squeezing between the fingers and thumb, you'll likely end up in a cast. I'll second the notion of getting a couple of lessons to straighten this out.
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The nut might be a bit high on the E string as well.

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