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How long did it take you to adjust right hand, coming from BG?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by PostBop, May 19, 2011.


  1. PostBop

    PostBop

    Mar 19, 2011
    NJ
    The difference in hand technique going from BG to DB is pretty significant. One thing I miss most is fingering fast. On BG I can can play eighth notes smoothly for extended periods of time, on DB I can only do it by playing perpendicular to the string as if it were a BG, but this has its obvious problems.

    How long did it take you to adjust from playing perpendicular to the string to playing vertically at the same capacity as you once did on BG?
     
  2. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    On double bass, I pluck from the shoulder, using the weight of my entire arm to generate sound. If I were to attempt to use electric bass technique on DB, I wouldn't be loud enough for an acoustic trio and I'd wear myself out in the process.

    I've seen players like Red Mitchell make it look as though it were easy to play quick passages with a very light touch on DB. But, the very best players always make the difficult look deceptively easy. ;)

    Your best bet is to find a qualified double bass teacher, and change your expectations: despite the familial similarities, double bass and electric bass require completely different techniques.

    Sorry I can't answer your question directly - I learned to play db before I learned electric. I can tell you that going in the opposite direction also required adjustments. Different muscle groups, differents objectives, different skills...
     
  3. Take the advice about getting a teacher. When I started lessons, I wanted to clear up a few things that I saw so many differences of opinion on. One happened to be parralell v perpendicular pizz. His advice was for a strong walking sound you should stay paralell, that way you have the solid meaty sound happening. For faster stuff switch to perpendicular and use two (or more) fingers. You have to get use to pulling the string from the shoulder, but it will eventually come. I have been playing DB (again) for almost five years now, and it is an ongoing process.
     
  4. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Chicago
    The best description I've heard of right hand pizz and the one I use to teach was from Drew Gress. He says you should have your bass positioned so that, if gravity was allowed to work it's magic, your arm would naturally return to your side. This then enables your ability to let your arm weight do the work.
     
  5. PostBop

    PostBop

    Mar 19, 2011
    NJ
    That sounds like excellent advice, very intelligent solution.

    I received my bass last Friday, scheduled lessons on Tuesday, begin lessons tomorrow. I'm very excited to take lessons, I want to learn proper technique and really get the best performance out of the bass.

    I practice 1-2 hours everyday since Friday. I really hope to evolve a similar technique as my BG skills, but playing a fast bebop line is a real challenge when fingering parallel.
     
  6. PocketGroove82

    PocketGroove82

    Oct 18, 2006
    Chicago
    Welcome to the wonderful world of doubling! I really don't know how long it look me to develop a good pull. But here are some things to consider. You should record yourself playing with a rythmn section or playalong to see how your sound projects in front of the bass. I've noticed that BG guys switching over often play fractionally behind the beat simply because the speed at which a note blooms on the upright is slower than on the BG. Playing behind the beat can be cool, but you will notice that the hard swinging guys are usually on top or on the beat, rather than laying back.

    You should watch some youtube videos of great players from the past and present and notice what they have going on with their right hand at fast tempos. A lot of the older cats, ie sam jones/ray brown, destroy fast tempos pulling parallel with one finger technique. Those guys pulled huge sounds at insane tempos with high action using just one finger because they developed that over years and years. But, you will notice that most modern players considered virtuosos, i.e. the guys who've come up since amplification, pickups, and lower action became common, often switch back and forth between the one finger parallel and two finger perpendicular (or semi perpendicular) approach.
     
  7. powerbass

    powerbass Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    I am not sure it is a matter of time as it is a matter of what kind of sound you want to get and what kind of pizz style you want to develop. I am a beginner on DB and my teacher has me working on Ray Brown transcriptions. Ray has incredible right hand technique that is very percussive and articulate - he developed this before pickups and amplification. I am finding this pizz technique very challenging since each note has a distinct "click" - it requires a very strong parallel finger pull. If you rely on your amplified sound you can use a much lighter touch and a perpendicular finger pull. My personally preference is the Ray Brown sound, it is funky and percussive.
     
  8. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    It's more about seeing it up close with a true master than about initial time commitment. Get a lesson with the best jazz bassist you can find within 200 miles. Repeat. Our tradition has been handed down face to face for many many years... this method of learning is still the best way to learn how to pull a sound out of the bass.
     
  9. powerbass

    powerbass Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    Before I started on DB I had no idea how much of your sound came from the right hand - I agree, you've got to see it, hear it, do it
     
  10. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    I doubt Ray himself would reccomend that for a beginner! But that is another thread.
    Getting the arm involved is key as the others have said.
    I can play faster and cleaner on double bass than I ever could on BG. There is something about getting your whole body involved that can allows you to get more out of the bass than other instruments that just depend on the hands.
     
  11. powerbass

    powerbass Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    I should clarify that my teacher did the transcribing, I am working on the walking sections. I have spent about 3 weeks working on 24 bars of the walking section of Li'l Darlin a recording with Barney Kessel. The rhythmic variations and embellishments are very challenging for my right hand.
     
  12. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    and then you have to play 1,000 gigs...
    as they say in Tai Chi, "there are no shortcuts."

    but seriously, for the time being, find a great player/teacher and dig their style. avoid the guys who need to plug into an amp to get "their sound." also, please ignore any technique specifics you get online. :rollno:
     
  13. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Agreed to the above. I would add that it probably takes less time for the right hand to come around than it does for the left - so be patient! You will more than likely be able to play fast and strong before you can play reasonably well in tune.

    As far as my last comment as few posts back, it is a difference in teaching styles and also a depending on what we are calling a "Beginner".
    For my teaching style, if a "beginner" is taking time out of arco studies it might be to work on solid quarters through song forms (melodies would be arco), I do sometimes use a book of Paul Chambers transcriptions as well as the bass clef Omnibook but that would be for VERY advanced students.
     
  14. As to the original question: it took me about 3 years of serious practice, with a good classical teacher, after having played BG professionally for 10 years, to be able to play DB reasonably well, and about 5 years before I was approaching equal competence.

    What actually made the doubling easier, at least for for me, was to also learn fretless bass, and to try to use as much DB right hand technique as possible on it, developing a hybrid of the two. It made me really aware of the similarities and the differences between the upright and the "downright."

    But even now, 14 years on, I am all too conscious of the differences between the instruments.

    Happy doubling!!
     
  15. mwiles30

    mwiles30

    Dec 31, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    I played bass guitar first (its still my main axe), and I had massive adjusting to do. Like others said here, you have to play from your shoulder, and keep all those muscles relaxed. I had to get over a big psychological hump myself due to the size of my new endeavor.

    I'll admit though, that come solo time, fast licks get the 2 finger bass guitar treatment (if Eddie Gomez can do it, why can't I?) With some practice, you can get some real good sound with perpendicular fingering.

    Low action never hurt either!
     

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