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Fingering Problem

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Doubly Big, May 1, 2006.


  1. Doubly Big

    Doubly Big

    Apr 9, 2006
    Being relatively new to double bass playing, I have alot of problems playing in tune. I used to play the cello, and this poses less problem as the intervals between each fingering are smaller.

    The Eastman double bass that I am currently playing has very flat G# (on String E) and C# (in String A). Is this a problem of the bass, or could it be a result of the bridge? Because at the same interval, my F# (on String D) and B natural (on String G) are fine. :meh:

    Thanks for any help!

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Opps ya, thanks ToR-Tu-Ra for the correction!
     
  2. ToR-Tu-Ra

    ToR-Tu-Ra

    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    Hmmm... I suppose you meant G# on th E string and C# on the A string, a perfect fourth, right? So you're saying both notes don't fall in the same place like F# and B? That sounds really strange. Yes, I think it could be the bridge not being properly alligned. or maybe the strings are out of tune?
     
  3. jfv

    jfv

    May 5, 2003
    Portland, OR

    New means having intonation problems :) but if you have
    doubts about your bass then you should have your
    teacher (you do have one, right?) check it out.
     
  4. jmnbass

    jmnbass Guest

    Apr 5, 2006
    I don't really know how to explain this. Either its the bass or your fingers, it is probably your fingers. You can't blame your intonation problems on your bass.
    When you play cello you are at a different vantage point. You are mostly looking over the instrument or down towards it. If you ever look at your fingers while you are playing you see that they are completely lined up on the fifths( cello).
    But on bass your looking at the side of the fretboard. Since the bridge is curved you cannot go on if the fingers are lined up. Try this, if you play a G# on the Estring and then bring your fingers up to the same piont on the g string the note will be sharp. It may look right but your finger are in the wrong spot due to the bridge curvature. You have to compensate and move your hand down alittle for each fourth.
    Yeah sry that was kind of hard to explain. But I think i mostly got what I was trying to say lol.
     
  5. It may look right but your finger are in the wrong spot due to the bridge curvature. You have to compensate and move your hand down alittle for each fourth. QUOTE]

    Sorry, this makes absolutely no sense to me. If the strings are in tune with each other, the fourths should all be in the same place, relative to the nut.

    What sometimes happens is that you think you are carrying your fingers directly across from string to string, but in reality since the bass is usually tilted toward you, your fingers are moving slightly sharp as you move from the E string over to the G, and they tend to move slightly flat as you move over from the G down to the E. Once you get used to moving your fingers directly across the board, regardless of the angle of the bass this problem may go away.

    In any event I don't think bridge curvature has anything to do with it.
     
  6. Wolf tones perhaps?
     
  7. JimGullen

    JimGullen orch. bassist trapped in a statistician's body...

    Oct 25, 2005
    West Bloomfield, MI
    Greetings!

    When you're playing is your elbow up or have you collapsed your left arm? If your arm is collapsed...elbow close to the neck/heel...you might actually be stopping the note closer to the nut on the E and A compared to the D and G even though it feels like you're going "straight" across.

    And you thought you'd never have to think about geometry again! :)

    Just a thought!

    Best regards!
    Jim
     
  8. bassbuz

    bassbuz

    Jun 21, 2005
    canada
    I disagree.
    Let's say, for argument's sake, that the bridge is really out of whack and that the string length is 41.5 at the G string and 41.75 at the E. Even if your strings are totally in tune, you'll have to compensate. If the bass isn't set up optimally, that kind of problem (common, actually) will arise. Don't forget that every time you tune the standup bass, the strings pull the bridge towards the nut and that kind of stuff will bent the bridge. If you have a look right now, you might be surprised. push the bridge down once in a while to maintain its perpendicularity to the top, have your setup revisited regularly.

    that being said, the e or c string harmonics make the pitch harder to establish. the string has really got to be firmly into the fingerboard in order for your pitch to be centered. the fourth finger particularly can seem in the string, but could be more.
    practicing with a tuner playing the key your in helps to focus pitch and sound. a mirror might also clarify what your left hand is doing (the optical or physical illusion of being straight across is true).
    so. a) good setup of bass b)working with a tuner c)working with a mirror.

    just my 2 cents worth.
    buzz
     
  9. Doubly Big

    Doubly Big

    Apr 9, 2006
    Woo thanks for all the advices!

    But the strange thing is, another bass that i am playing has no such problem.

    This is what i did to check the notes of this bass that gives me problem: I checked all the notes using a chromatic tuner and marked their positions. And the C# and G# are indeed not at the same interval as the B natural and F#, when i view the markings from the front (not from the side, so there shouldn't be any parallax error. (scratch head..)

    So now, to compensate this deficiency, i dead memorise the positions that produce the correct pitches.
    I'll also be asking my teacher for advice the next time i see him, and perhaps send the bass back for checks at the luthier ;)
     
  10. on my bass I have something similar. For example, My E on the D string is not in the exact same place as my B on the A string. There is a few small millimeters difference. It's not really a problem it just takes some getting used to.
     
  11. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
    If I was in this situation I would just take the instrument straight to a luthier. What is the point in learning bad technique when you can have the problem fixed for a marginal cost (one that is much cheaper than the extra lessons you will need to fix bad technique!)
     

  12. Bassbuz

    I was assuming that the bridge was set up properly.

    I was refering to his statement that somehow the curvature of the bridge made this compensation necessary. This is what I did not understand.

    If indeed his bridge was installed inproperly or had been knocked out of position, that would certainly explain the problem.

    Since he did not find this problem with other basses, it could well be that his bridge was crooked.
     
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Measure the string length on each string. If it's the same, then the issue is in the hands and ear. :)
     
  14. jmnbass

    jmnbass Guest

    Apr 5, 2006
    Sorry for not making it more clear. By the bridge curvature I did not mean that each note on a different string has a different length from where it is stopped to the bridge. I just meant that what was said earlier, that there is a sort of optical illusion if you rely on your vision when moving up a fourth.
     
  15. I think that the attitude of the bridge is the first culprit to be looked at here (notwithstanding the possibility that our fingers are not carrying across the fingerboard directly), but there are alot of physics at play here. One thing that I have noticed on many string instruments is that differences in string quality and age can have a very serious effect on intonation.

    Are your strings really old? new? low quality?

    Not saying that this is the number one culprit of bad intonation, but the strings actually do produce the principal vibration - and can very often produce more than one when they are old or of low quality.
     
  16. It could be the bridge, but more than likely its your intonation. The E-String G# is a notoriously difficult note to pitch, but like anything else, your intonation will improve with practice. My teacher always made me practice whilst looking in a mirror so that i could get a better view of my left hand position. Ill give ya a few tips here, i hope they dont seem patronising.

    1. Always keep your thumb behind ur second finger.
    2. Use the mirror rather than constantly looking left. Use it especially to ensure that you keep ur bow straight, but more importantly to ensure ur keeping the shape in ur left hand.
    3. Keep ur elbow raised, and ur forearm roughly perpendicular to the fingerboard (being a cellist, the collapsed forearm will be more natural to you, this could be a large part of ur problem and can heavily effect the shape of ur left hand.
    4. Just in case...i know that cellists use all four fingers of the left hand, on a doublebass theres no 3rd finger.

    P.S. It could be that neither ur intonation nor the bridge are the problm here. It is possible that the actual instrument is warped, either the body or the neck...this would effect the instruments pitching. If its a poor quality instrument (under £2000) or an old instrument which as poorly cared for, this is quite possible.
     
  17. It could be the bridge, but more than likely its your intonation. The E-String G# is a notoriously difficult note to pitch, but like anything else, your intonation will improve with practice. My teacher always made me practice whilst looking in a mirror so that i could get a better view of my left hand position. Ill give ya a few tips here, i hope they dont seem patronising.

    1. Always keep your thumb behind ur second finger.
    2. Use the mirror rather than constantly looking left. Use it especially to ensure that you keep ur bow straight, but more importantly to ensure ur keeping the shape in ur left hand.
    3. Keep ur elbow raised, and ur forearm roughly perpendicular to the fingerboard (being a cellist, the collapsed forearm will be more natural to you, this could be a large part of ur problem and can heavily effect the shape of ur left hand.
    4. Just in case...i know that cellists use all four fingers of the left hand, on a doublebass theres no 3rd finger.

    P.S. It could be that neither ur intonation nor the bridge are the problm here. It is possible that the actual instrument is warped, either the body or the neck...this would effect the instruments pitching. If its a poor quality instrument (under £2000) or an old instrument which as poorly cared for, this is quite possible.
     
  18. Maaaven

    Maaaven

    Jun 24, 2003
    Pasadena Area
    If you ever take the time to look at a bass guitar (Yikes!)
    you would see they all have adjusters for the bridge nut.
    The tuning procedure on those slabs includes both tuning
    the open string and then (as I learned it) tuning the first
    harmonic by adjusting the bridge.

    On a double bass, the bridge is straight across not curved
    (compensating). So as you play higher up the string, the
    relative errors across string for a given position may grow.
    At least that has been my expereince, but I am fairly new
    to the dog house, and don't play up near the octave much
    anyhow.

    There a related issue that has to do with depressing the
    strings to stop the note. If you look for the octave by
    plucking a string, and then damp the fundamental with a
    light touch of a finger of the left hand, the higher octave
    harmonics continue to ring. Where you touch is important
    to how much ringing you get. At exactly 1/2 the string
    length, with a gentle touch you get a strong harmonic.
    But to stop the string, and actually play the octave, you
    have to press down, and the stop location is not the same
    as the harmonic, because of you pressing down increase
    tension on the string and maybe stretch it a tiny bit. So
    things change. More tension + more length = same tone.
    So the player stops below the harmonic point at the octave.
    Below being closer to the ceiling in the double bass world.

    So the way I see it. The intonation challenge for the player
    is to hear where the note really is up and down the strings
    and adjust to it as required. And if you go changing the
    string height where the notes fall changes. This is where
    setup comes into play, as bridge adjustment is important.

    I really hope this makes some sense.

    Playing with
     

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