1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Got a call to play an upright..

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Jborg, Mar 21, 2018.

  1. Jborg


    Feb 1, 2018
    Long Island, NY
    ..and I never play upright..
    My band is doing an outdoor gig w/ no amps (no electricity) in June and someone has offered to lend me his bass. I’m thinking about picking up a few lessons at a local music store.
    But my real issue is this...
    Getting to the gig involves a long walk to a ferry, a boat ride, and another long walk to the stage. Total walking distance is about a mile...with a borrowed instrument. I want to just bring my acoustic guitar and do chords, but the band doesn’t like the idea. Plus, I feel like I should compensate the fellow lending me his bass.
    ?.. thoughts?
  2. If you've ever harbored even a passing desire to work upright bass into your skill set, here's a golden opportunity. I'd be up for the challenge, if the material is not too demanding.

    A couple of lessons for some quick get-me-up-to-speed pointers sounds like a great idea.

    Definitely compensate the lender of your bass appropriately within your means. Since he didn't ask for it, anything reasonably thoughtful should be greatly appreciated.

    And there has to be some quick easy ways to roll the bass that distance rather than carry it. Check in with the DB forum here for suggestions.

    In short, go for it, you just might wet your appetite for more, and good luck.
    MuffledBoomy, P. Aaron and Jborg like this.
  3. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Mr_Moo, tbplayer59, clayworx and 25 others like this.
  4. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Have you spent any time on upright? If not then it would be a good idea to start practising right away. Otherwise you risk lacking sufficient stamina for the duration of the gig or, worse, hurting yourself.
  5. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    I'd have to agree with salcott and bass12. Either way, OP is getting the short end of the stick on this gig; financially speaking that is.
    Jborg likes this.
  6. Jborg


    Feb 1, 2018
    Long Island, NY
    I’ve been wanting to get into playing an upright for a long time, but the last time I touched one was about 25 years ago, and that was only for about an hour.
    The place we’re playing is a pretty cool scene. Lots of bands playing on porches around this island in NY harbor. I think I have to give some lessons a try...
    I was thinking of buying the guy a wheel for his bass.. that I'll use.
    Oddly and electracoyote like this.
  7. Hey, you have to start somewhere, and nothing motivates like a live performance. Again, if the material isn't too demanding i.e. lots of roots and root/5 combos, I/IV/V progressions, and relatively easy major or minor pentatonic transition walks in whole keys, I can't see this as an impossible task for an experienced electric bass player. I've tried my hand at a little upright, and even though it is a bit more physically demanding, if you start now you could probably work your way up to a passable job of it fairly quickly.

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained. It's perfect that this gig is in a chill environment and makes it worth a shot IMHO. Chances are you pull it off and this is your intro to taking upright more seriously for future purposes.

    Please let us know how it goes. I could use the motivation to take my own suggestion. ;)
    DirtDog, Rompin Roddy and Jborg like this.
  8. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Tip: when my sons were starting to learn upright their teacher had them mark the lower position with a small piece of masking tape on the side of the fingerboard until they developed their ear. Some things never change, that was the same advice my teacher gave me decades ago. Just be sure to ask your friend if they're OK with this.
    Jborg likes this.
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Your biggest reason to say no is transporting a borrowed instrument over land and water with no motorized vehicle. Walking a double bass that you don't own a long distance to a boat.... and then another long distance to a stage FROM a boat ..... is just BEGGING for all kinds of things to go wrong.

    If your band gets all bent out of shape tell them you will gladly play the gig if THEY acquire a bass, have it waiting on stage, and transport it back to wherever it came from.

    And, yeah, as someone who has experience being an awful upright player forced to do it in public on rare occasion, I can tell you a couple of lessons won't get you there. Improper technique is small potatoes for most situations. But being dialed in on the neck and playing in tune takes a long time to get good enough to do it in front of people. I barely qualify and cringe at the notion of a real double bassist being in the room while I'm playing.

    No. Just no. This is a bad and dumb idea for a dozen reasons. If your vocals are needed for the gig, play tambourine or cajon and sing. If not, tell them to send you pics from the show and bring you some leftovers from the buffet. Or maybe just pics of the buffet. Whatever.

    But under NO circumstances should you agree to travel under those conditions with someone else's double bass. Noooooooo. Resist. Don't do it. Just say no. Refuse. Negative.

    (Never mind that if that owner of said bass knows the details and still agrees he "ain't too bright neither". Don't take advantage of his stupidity. That ain't nice.)
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
  10. I find it interesting that the BG players say 'go for it', while the upright players say 'don't'.

    FWIW (and I may be in the minority) I wouldn't be very happy about someone rolling my bass for a mile (2 miles both ways?) over a bumpy-a$$ trail. I'd much prefer that it were carried and babied...
    Mr_Moo, dan1952, Jborg and 2 others like this.
  11. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    This. Look one post up from yours. I agree totally.
    Jborg and Who da Ville like this.
  12. Rompin Roddy

    Rompin Roddy

    Jun 29, 2016
    Does everybody in the band have to forego these traveling quirks?

    If so, then you'd sound like a brat trying to include that in your case for not wanted to do this.

    What can kind of band is this? (type of music, original/cover, work/fun. How much of an obligation do you have?)

    Everyone is ok with the fact that one of their members has to learn a new instrument from scratch in order to do this gig?

    Are they even aware that they are literally asking you to learn a new instrument from scratch in order to do this gig?

    If it's a sloppy band that exists in a sloppy scene, and you're up for the challenge? Hey, by all means, go for it.

    But in actuality this seems like a very odd request (demand?).

    It's all down to what you feel comfortable doing. You have a 3 month challenge ahead of you, and if you take it on, I certainly wouldn't scoff at the notion.

    However, if you were to decline, and politely inform your bandmates that you just didn't feel comfortable doing this, you certainly WOULD NOT be in the wrong. And you would NOT be acting unreasonable or bratty.

    It sounds like your band mates just may not be fully aware of how much they're really asking of you.

    Mr_Moo, tonequixote, DirtDog and 6 others like this.
  13. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    While on the one hand I approve of being willing to go for it, I have deep concerns about the "borrowed instrument" and transport issues. Even a cheap crappy plywood DB is a $1000+ instrument unless it's already broken. Hard cases are few and far between, so the only protection it will likely have is a soft bag. It takes a while to remember to compensate for the thing correctly when transporting, and you risk major, expensive, debilitating damage every time you inadvertently smack into something. I simply lug the one I use (it has a wheel, but at some point before I got it, the endpin was replaced with one that does not come out, and I have not changed it) and looking at it, I would suggest a cart over a wheel for wheeled transportation - preferably a cart with a bit of suspension, or very squishy tires (the wheel it does have IS a squishy tire one, at least.) Getting on, off, and traveling in boats are all fraught with bass peril.

    And, it's a whole different animal to play (including that you will often not play the same notes/timings that you would if playing on EBG.) It is the deep dive off the fretless end of the world if you have only used frets so far. Think you've met a long-scale? 41.5 inches (typically.) The dang strings cost (at least) twice what my whole EBG did.

    If a battery-powered amp is out, you might want to look for posts on here about a buildable (or possibly buy-able) instrument using a 34" BG neck and a bass drum as an ABG that actually works, to some extent. Look for a used bass drum, the bigger, the better.

    Scroll down a bit here to see one: Pros and cons of Acoustic Basses?

    Full disclosure - I played my first DB gig about 6 weeks after picking up the DB - but it was exceedingly limited, at least so far as my playing ability went. And if anything dire happens to the cheap crappy plywood bass I'm using, I can afford to pay off the relative it belongs to.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
    Mr_Moo, IamGroot, pcake and 2 others like this.
  14. REV

    REV Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    If you haven't been steadily practicing on an upright I doubt you could make it through a three hour gig. You will need a lot more strength and calluses to play an upright gig than you will need for an electric gig. If the borrowed bass doesn't have a good set up this will be even worse.
    Pilgrim, rwkeating, ptg and 2 others like this.
  15. jnuts1


    Nov 13, 2007
    man I don't know about this. at my peak I could literally play all day long (at least 8 or so hours) without any fatigue but when I would get on an upright I have 15 minutes tops before I am starting to tire. it is a completely different animal not to be taken lightly. I suggest getting a dean acoustic bass. they are cheap and probably one of the loudest out there without amplification.
    tbplayer59, rwkeating and Jborg like this.
  16. A bass guitar and upright are completely different instruments. "A few lessons" won't be enough to prepare you for the gig. As others have stated endurance will be a big concern.

    Just rent a battery amp and do it on the bass guitar. Playing upright is worth pursuing but isn't really something you can do on short notice. Also that guy must be the friendliest person on the planet to offer his bass to you! :D
    tbplayer59, bass12 and StyleOverShow like this.
  17. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    And the blisters heading your way won't be pretty.
    Pilgrim, rwkeating, GonePlaid and 2 others like this.
  18. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    I’m recovering from 4 gigs in three days, two of which were on upright, tendinitis in left hand.

    Don’t underestimate the power of the DB to mess you up, shoulder, wrists and both hands. Your right hand has to learn striking the string with the side of your finger, not the tip like EBG.

    I’d say acoustic bass with a battery powered amp, although they tend to be heavy, on a dolly is your best bet.good luck!
    Jborg likes this.
  19. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue

    Oct 9, 2016
    It will go perfectly.

    Trust me.

    Jborg, RobTheRiot, T_Bone_TL and 2 others like this.
  20. saabfender


    Jan 10, 2018
    Without a suitable vehicle, you need to pass.
    Jborg likes this.

Share This Page