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How long before you played in tune?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Norwegianwood, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. It's a month now, since I switched from electric to double bass. (Jazz,pizz, but begun arco last week) I've been practising hard ever since I begun, a couple of hours every day - at least. (You should have seen my fingers the first week.)

    Anyway, I'm practising all the major scales in two octaves. Today I also did C major in thumb position. But it's still pretty god damn out of tune. Especially in thumb position, but also in the middel part, like when I go from D to C on the G- streng, while descending.

    How long did it took you to play, like, the major scales in tune? I practise with band in a box, and I annoy myself to death all the time. Will this never come to an end? :crying: :

    Thanks guys, helpful as always!
  2. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    I'll let you know when I do. :)
  3. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    *sigh* It took me about a little over a year to get just some sort of consistency in first position. I avoided TP like the plague. I haven't even gotten fully into TP yet. I just started VI and VII'th positions.

    My advice: Forget about setting a date for when you're gonna have it conquered. You'll just end up frustrating yourself if you're in a hurry. Just keep hacking at it. Keep on keepin' on. ;)
  4. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Enjoy the journey. It's a long one.
  5. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I dont' mind the learning intonation and the journey. It's my girlfriend who complains! :meh:
  6. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    @#$% it has been 12 years and I am still trying to pllay in tune.
  7. Eight years and counting.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I only got my first DB a few months ago and I'm in the same process - so I pick up my DB as often as I can and do get frustrated with intonation!

    But I don't understand why people get problems with their fingers - I noticed this at Jazz Summerschool as well...blisters, bleeding etc ...?

    So I don't have any problems - no blisters or even soreness, no matter how often I play - I have played BG for 25 years plus and EUB for the last 2-3 years - but I can only think I must have very tough skin or am not playing as hard as most other DB newbies...?
  9. Well, my guess is that it comes from all your years with gigging and playing the electric! I've only played for three years, and did not practise that much.

    I do play hard with my right index and middle finger. Both my teachers, who are two of norways hottest bassists, told me to. But it's no problem anymore - my fingers are back in shape:)

    And yeah, I don't mean when you learned to play in tune - always. I have a Rufus Reid DVD, and I notice him playing out of tune on some occations. But like, how long did it took you to get the hang on the major scales, or if you haven't yet, how long have you been playing?

    Guess I really just wanna share experience with other players who are, or have been, in my situation.....)
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well, I am admittedly a newbie to DB - but I have noticed that volume doesn't necessarily come from how hard you pluck - so I notice that pulling across, through the strings to the next one, makes a big difference....? And where exactly you play - i.e. there is a point between bridge and nut that is louder...?

    I suppose what I mean is that it's not all about just playing as hard as you can - but maybe people get sucked into doing this when they start out, so as to be as loud as their teachers - when maybe this is more down to technique and experience...?
  11. Yes, plucking through the string helps, as does plucking on the right place. All basses has their spot when it sounds best/clearest, according to my teacher. But he also makes a clear point that one should have a more physical approach than on the electric. I'm not by any means playing violently hard,though....
  12. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I didn't start out playing scales, I started out playing tunes.

    If you look closely at Suzuki-flavored material (e.g., Vance), you will find that the first tunes are played using wide intervals (4ths and 5ths)...nursery rhymes and so on. It's because when people begin to play instruments where they control the pitch (or sing), usually they don't have much experience hearing those tight intervals (whole and half tones). As you advance through, say, Vance's books you find the music exposing you to those tighter intervals gradually.

    I've been dedicated to scales for most of my practice (I do the "vomits" as a break from them) for the past year or so, using Rabbath's scale book. When I read from him that he devoted himself to intensive scale practice for 6 years in order to clean up his own intonation, I realized what I was getting into...but I want it that bad so there I am too.

    As your muscle memory and ear improves, you will find yourself multitasking those scales with various bowings and pizz moves, vibrato, dynamics, rhythms and so on. They blossom from boring exercises into beautiful musical statements! :bassist:
  13. Thanks for many good points.
    As for now, I only play scales pizzicato. I guess perfect intonation is harder to achieve bowing, right?
    I've only played Arco for like a week, and for now I only practise loose strings. Especially the wrist staccato thing is killing me.
    But yeah, I guess time is the key word.
    Guess I'm just an impatient and restless soul:)
  14. bfitz


    May 18, 2005
    lorain, ohio
    i'm still pretty new myself but what i have been doing to help improve my intonation is practice with a tuner. i adapted an exercise that i used on electric bass to learn all of the avaliable notes in any one key in one position. it works well in half and first position on the db. just pick a key and in one position go up and down all of the avaliable notes. i use a tuner on each string and play one string one note at the time untill my hands are adjusted to the spacing inbetween notes, then i move to the next string, and then all the strings together. i'm still new so i'm sure that there are beter ways but this has helped me over the past couple weeks i've been doing it.
  15. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    This is turning into a nice tips-among-newbies thread. :)

    Bruce, I've been taught to pay attention more to my tone than volume I would say. I get a nicer, fatter tone, playing through the strings rahter than pulling if you can understand the diff. Down and through to the FB rather than up/away or across. I'm not so sure there's a spot where it's louder but I like getting close to the bottom of the FB since the attack is sharper and clearer. I like that sound more. If you watch Buster Williams, he's down in that area too.

    I used to not get blisters at all but once I started paying attention to my RH attack, somehow it tugs on my skin much more and causes more blisters. To give you an idea, I play about 2-3 hours a day + more on weekends.

    NORWEGIANWOODY, I think all the advice from other folks about playing alot of arco is very true. As they say, long tones, slow scales. Whipped my intonation into shape much quicker than pizz scales do.

    Also, I did the chromatic tuner thing for a while and have since dropped the idea. The tuner is too slow to react and isn't always correct due to note attack/decay or whatnot. I find that a playing against a droned note does FAR more than a tuner can. I like playing a scale and droning the 3rd or 5th of the scale most of the time. Gives your ears a big workout while you do your scales too. It certainly kicks my ass in a good way.
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    This is the sort of thing I was getting at - I was just surprised that a good teacher would tell you just to pluck as hard as you can - which seemed to be what NorWood was saying...?

    Although I'm a newbie to DB - I am a very keen "DB-Watcher" - so for many years I have been going to my local Jazz Club and have been able to watch many great Jazz DB players at very close quarters...:)

    So my observations are that there seem to be as many styles of playing as there are players!! ;)

    It has varied from people who played so hard that they were flushed red and sweaty before the first tune was over ...to others who seemed to expend no effort whatsoever in 2 hours of playing - but still had a very full and rounded tone!!! :confused:

    With most, somewhere in the middle - mostly pretty relaxed and "cool"...digging in where necessary...

    I must say I like my live Jazz to be exciting...but am not sure I want to kill myself in the process....:D

    Seriously - it seems to me that I could pick teachers who played really hard and others that didn't...but who's right....:meh: ?
  17. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Yeah, that does seem a little odd considering that most teachers suggest that effortless motion and relaxation are key, especially to playing at fast tempos. NORWOOD, I think when teachers refer to the physicality of playing, I think they're mainly talking about stand, form, and from what muscles you're using to play the strings, not neccessarily playing "hard". Are we on the same page here?

    A friend of mine was telling me that some big named player would pluck so hard that his fingers would swell to the size of small plums throughout a night. I think he said that he saw said person play twice, and both times it was the same. I'm not sure if I believe his story but I wouldn't be surprised.

    Watching Buster Williams kinda makes my fingers hurt in sympathy. I can't see how he plays the RH with fingers fully extended. On the other hand, Don Thompson is so smooth, fast and easy. You'd think his fingers were greased or something. Wow.

    The right one that provides the skills that "work" for you?!?!
  18. Yeah, absolutely! If I've given the impression that I hit "as hard as I can", as Bruce said, I must have expressed myself unclearly...I believe I even said that I, not under any circumstanses play violently hard.. ;) However, when I first approached the double bass, I played with a light attack, as on electric.
    To be honest, I don't think I have that much trouble with my right hand at all. Yeah, I had blisters the first week, but they are gone now. My intonation, however, is another story....:)

    Please keep those posts coming - it's all valuable insight to the world of double bass.
  19. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Sight singing/ear training class in college did huge things for my intonation. Being able to accurately hear in your head before you play is key.

    Try this. I use this with my students. It works best arco. Pick something, a jazz head, an etude, a scale, whatever. First try to sing it. Then break it down one note at a time. What is the intervalic relationship between one note an the next? Sing the interval. Play the interval. Go through the entire tune like this.

    Next, break it into larger parts. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    Last, try to do the entire thing singing and playing together.

    Don't glance over mistakes. Scrutinize what they were and fix them.

    This is hard. At first you might get mad, throw things, punch walls, etc. I found it to help me. I've seen it really help some of my students too. The key is to be slow an methodical.

    A note on chromatic tuners. Don't practice with them. Intonation of different notes varies with the key that you are in, the players you are with, the kind of instrument you are playing with etc. Just learn to hear the note. Your ear is more accurate then a tuner.
  20. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    oh, pizz

    I've found that the more flesh you can get in the string the fatter the sound.