How to convert from BG to EUB

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by ToneRanger, Feb 16, 2005.

  1. I've played fretted & fretless electric bass for 30 years, & have dabbled occasionally on borrowed URB's. I'm playing more jazz these days so am planning to buy an EUB.
    I want to learn correct technique, especially left hand positions. Can anyone suggest a good book to get me started? Or is there a website that would help?
  2. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    You should hook up with a double bass teacher, especially for learning good technique so as to not hurt yourself. Books alone are not sufficient enough. Teacher, teacher....

    Website? You've found it! I can't think of a better place than here for everything bass - we have luthiers, beginners, and first-class vets here, all willing to help!
  3. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Best thing to do is consider them completely different instruments (BG and URB/EUB). They only share note placements, etc but the physical approach is much different. Get a advice (and probably most frequent) that you'll get on this forum.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I was in the same position a few years ago and have relied mostly on books and videos - there are quite a few videos which show you basic DB technique which can be applied to EUB. Rufus Reid's books and DVD on the Evolving Bassist , for example.

    I keep meaning to get lessons with a teacher,as like you I want to play Jazz as much as I can and I go to Jazz classes.
    But I found that all the Jazz bass teachers were very scathing about EUBs and tried to get me not to buy one!

    So - having bought one, I feel sort of embarassed to go and ask for lessons, having ignored their advice...:meh:

    I've found that it has been a very rewarding experience and that the more I approach playing it like a DB, the more its sounds like an amplified DB and less like fretless BG. I really enjoy playing EUB and have more or less stopped playing BG

    In fact the only negative thing about it,from my point of view, is that Jazz DB players I meet - especially teachers, are very scathing and unfriendly about it....:(
  5. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    But he should still aim for a Double bass teacher regardless - an average EB teacher will be clueless about it, and I'd think that almost all EUB players learned on DB.

    Then again, I've never touched an EUB, so I may be full of schitt.
  6. justBrian


    Apr 19, 2002
    Surprise, AZ
    As everyone else has said, get a teacher. Just to get you started, you may want to pick up a copy of the Simandl Double Bass book. It will walk you through hand positions and scales. It is a great tool.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I'd diasagree with that last statement - there are a lot of rock/pop players using NS EUBs who have never played DB before - mainly due to "big name" players like Tony Levin using them on recordings etc.

    My personal experience of approaching DB teachers is - "get a real bass or don't bother!!" :meh:
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Chris Fitzgerald mentioned Rabbath's method in another thread and I bought his book :

    "Nouvelle Technique de La Contrabasse"

    I found this very useful when starting on EUB - it has some good photos for positions and coming from BG I like his approach to positions for EUB - although I have no idea about how it would be for starting out on DB....?
  9. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA

    Having put in 16 years on EBG before ever touching a double bass, I agree that Rabbath's fingering and lefthand position approach is more intuitive than more classical approaches such as Simandl.

    Most slabbists have a somewhat fluid approach to fingering rather than anchored thumb positions. Rabbath's approach embraces this much better.

    If the feel of the neck and string length of the EUB is within the range of a DB, I don't see any difference in basic approach for left hand. Of course, this assuming the EUB has a neck design with reference points similar to those of a db, including a positive stop at the pegbox to reset to hP and a heal of some sort that references Rabbath's 3rd position. (on most Dbs, when your thumb hits the heal, your first finger is in position to play the 7th stop, or D on the G string. Although on some basses, this note is Eb.)

    The right hand may be much different as you have the power of amplification on your side.

    You are likely to struggle some if you decide if you ever decide to move to a db. Some things will translate, but your overall playing approach may be very different if you spend all your time on a boat oar.

    Dealing with the carcass itself is enough, simply keeping it stable and getting over the shoulders to play the higher notes. But you also must have enough righthand strength, technique and endurance to make your own volume.

    I have a friend who plays guitar. He never touches an acoustic and spends his time playing a super slick Strat with .09s on it. When he picks up my Jumbo Gibson strung with .13s, he can't last five minutes. Although when I grab it, it feels like a toy!!!
  10. Thanks to all you learned folks for a very helpful discussion. This was my first question on the Forum and I now know much more than I did yesterday!
    I had aleady looked at books and become confused - I'll now buy Rabbath, and start looking for a teacher.

    EUB's are rare and expensive in my town (Brisbane, Australia) so I was planning to build one based on an URB neck & fingerboard. However I have just found a no-name Korean instrument for about the same price as a Mexican P-Bass, so I'll start with one of those and see how it goes.
  11. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    Did you check out Bob G.'s Bass Luthiers directory? I'm sure one of the Australian luthiers can help you find an EUB

  12. IMHO Rabbath is an "advanced method". You'd be better to stard with George Vance's Progressive Repertoire. This method is rather a serie of interesting songs with increasing challenges adding more stuff from one to another. This is so better than the boring studies the other methods often give you. The Progressive Repertoire was made to prepare the students for Rabbath's method. On the CD that comes with the method, you can hear Rabbath himself play the songs... Beautiful !

    With your experience you could start with the volume 2.

    Avoid the obsolete methods, especially Edouard Nanny's.
  13. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA

    I agree. I own the George Vance series and find it to be very good. I was speaking of the Rabbath method of playing moreso than the actual publication.

    The Vance books offer a great starting point for a beginner, and it doesn't take very long before you are playing interesting melodies. However, it isn't quite comprehensive in explanation. Without the aide of a teacher, you could easily struggle a bit to understand Vance's instruction.

    The Rabbath publication does offer a more detailed description of the playing approach.
  14. Toneranger, did you find this no-name-Korean bass online? The least expensive EUB that I have found was $600 US for a Dean with a 35" scale. It is essentially a bass guitar with an endpin! Other than that, it appears I would have to start at about $2000 US which puts them beyond my means. I have been hoping to find something Korean or Chinese in the $500 to $600 US range with a 41 to 41.5 inch scale.

    Bruce, your problem with teachers resonates for me. I had a similar experience seeking jazz guitar lessons from the great Johnny Smith about 30 years ago, and I had been giging regularly for 15 years at the time. That's part of being the teacher. You get to set the rules, despite what the student may want.
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