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good sustain/playing long notes

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by trocadero, Jun 12, 2005.

  1. trocadero


    Jun 12, 2005
    Gamleby, Sweden
    Hi, my first post.
    I started playing double bass a couple of weeks ago, my main instrument is piano but I thought this would be fun and it really is.
    Well, i try to play some funky basslines, get by walking a F-jazzblues, learn to intonate and so on. Anyway, I was wondering how to get that sound where the walking sounds like one long sound just the pitch changing. When I walk it sounds "boom-boom-boom" and I would like it to sound "daaaaa-daaaaa-daaaa" if you know what I mean :rolleyes:

    The best example seems to be Ron Carter. I think he plays really cool lines, it sounds relaxed but it pushes the music ahead(sorry for my language, im swedish and don't know all the english musicterms/expressions yet).

    Is it a matter of technique or gear(pickups, amps and so on)? So far I havn't been playing amplified.

    EDIT: after I wrote this I listened to Ron Carter on Milies Smiles and it isn't the way I remebered. It has some "boom-boom"-thing over it after all. Well, then Larry Grenadier is the best exampel of the sound I want.
  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    You are listening to records and mixing engineers, not Basses.

    Play the Bass live in a room or hear the person play without an amp and judge. Records can't tell you the natural tone the guy has at all.

    Get an Orchestral Bassist to teach you and get a good bow. You will need it to learn the instrument.
  3. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    A number of factors come into play. If you want a really modern sound with lots of sustain, you probably want steel strings. Spirocores are good in this regard (although they are awful with a bow). Another consideration is string height. I've found that when my strings are set high, I tend to get a slightly punchy, boomier sound. When the strings are low, there is less volume but more clean sustain.

    When you listen to Ron Carter (a lot of the time), you're hearing a very amplified sound... a very poorly amplified sound, in my opinion. So some of the sustain you hear may come from that as well.
  4. trocadero


    Jun 12, 2005
    Gamleby, Sweden
    Yea, that's what I realised when I heared a videoclip I had with Ron Carter playing in the 80's with Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and Branford Marsalis on like a japanese jazz fesival. It was a directly lined contact mic sound or something.
    But I think Larry Grenadier have a very nice sound with sustain. I 'm currently listening to Brad Mehldau - Art of the trio, live at the village vanguard vol.5. The sound has a lot of wood and still a lot of sustain.
    I saw that many people recomended the Revolution Solo Pickup from Upton Bass. Since it's only 99$ im interested but then again, I live in Sweden. Anyway, thanks for the help/tips guys.
  5. oliebrice


    Apr 7, 2003
    Hastings, UK
  6. 1% gear
    9% bass
    90% hands
    Guys with 'the technique' can get that singing, sustaining sound out of pretty much any bass. Ron Carter would still sound like Ron Carter on his bass or my bass or your bass.

    Practice stopping the note cleanly and solidly with your left hand. Make sure you get the note stopped before you pull the string with your right hand. Work on developing a clean, consistant attack with your right hand. Find the 'sweet spot' for your right hand, that distance from the bridge where you get a fat sound with a percussive attack.

    I've forgotten the exact quote, but apparently Rufus Reid once said something to the effect that if you play with a puny sound, when you turn up your amp all you get is a louder puny sound. It's not enough to just make the string vibrate, you have to get all that wood moving too.

    Sustain is only one product of good technique. Good technique doesn't come from gear or magic, it comes from practice. Play the bass.
  7. Good point. Ray Brown used to refer to this as:'Hand matching' No matter how hard you pull the string with the right hand, that had better be matched with the same intensity of the left fingers holding down the strings.

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