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How to play with a bow?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Jonathan1990, Oct 16, 2010.

  1. Hi, I want to play with a bow on my P, preferably standing up, but I'm having trouble getting the tones sound even, if at all.
    Does anyone have any tips? I will only play the bottom (E-)string, and I have a pickup cover, but that can be taken off.
  2. AcidFripp


    Jul 12, 2010
    Alright, chappie. Here's the obligatory question. Why?
  3. Take the arrows off first... you don't want to accidentially launch one out into the crowd.
  4. Jon_West


    Jan 8, 2009
    GTA, Ontario
    That's like saying "I replaced by car's wheels with cinderblocks, but I'm having trouble getting a smooth ride".
    So my tips:
    a) ditch the bow
    b) get a double bass
  5. Okay, thanks for the help, guys.
    FYI, my band recorded a song with a cello line in it but no bass, and we wanted to see if I could play the cello part live. I know it's possible to make it sound good, especially with flats.
  6. Rockman


    Mar 2, 2006
    Uh not really, when have you ever heard a bowed electric bass? The closest I've seen is an E-bow. Bowing the cello line on an electric bass will sound 0% like a cello. Sample the line and trigger it when you are playing live, or omit it. Or learn how to play cello.
  7. amroach


    Feb 11, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    honestly? Don't. It just ruins the bow. Want to bow? get a DB.
  8. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
    An E-Bow might work but unless you've got a midi rig, you're not going to sound anything like a cello/
  9. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    Transcribe it all for your GString (assuming it's a 4 string)
  10. Well, I don't mind not sounding like a cello, and i like the sound I can get from bowing my bass, but it's just terribly inconsistent. If it doesn't work out, that's too bad, but I won't learn cello or use a backing track, and I won't give up just yet.:bassist:
  11. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    The technique does take some time.

    Unofortunately you'll get tons of egotist upright players replying..

    flats on a GSTring are your solution

    And yes I own an upright..
  12. Thanks, I'll try that.
  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Look at the bridge of a double bass and then look at the bridge on your P bass. What you'll notice is that the DB bridge forms an arc and the P bass bridge is more or less a flat plane. Hold your fingers in an arc and move a pencil back and forth across each finger, see what I'm talking about? Now put your fingers flat, like you hand's on the table. Try the same thing with the pencil.

    You can play the line arco as long as it can be done on just your E and G string, it's gonna be pretty much impossible to do it if there's a lot of string crossing and needs to be fingered across several strings.

    "Egotist" upright players?
  14. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    One other small point... usually you rosin a bow. If you use a bow with rosin on electric bass strings you'll gum up the strings really quickly. I've actually tried this on my electric bass and the results, when compared to my upright, are nothing short of un-spectacular. But... learning by doing is probably the best way so...:D
  15. I bow my WAV4, but not my Fender. As a bro mentioned above, an URB, or for that matter an EUB, has the strings at an arc which allows bowing.
  16. JPSBassist


    Feb 10, 2010
    Santa Barbara
    This is correct. I have a 1947 Kay Double Bass and the neck radius on a "bowable" instrument is very, very small. Like 3.5 inches. Whereas the radius on your P bass is more like 16 inches. This is a MAJOR difference in the amount of curve the fingerboard has.

    Ned Steinberger's products are really cool if you want the best of both worlds. I have a custom piezo pup installed into the bridge of my 47' Kay. So I can plug her in. But Ned's products are designed as electric instruments and they are much less bulky.

    He has a cello size electric standup, a full double-bass sized one and his Omni-Bass which from my understanding comes in long-scale 34".

    I will tell you that going fretless, on a traditional/classical neck with the extreme curve of the fingerboard as compared to contemporary electric basses is very different. It'll take some getting used to.
  17. RJC1811


    Nov 19, 2008
    Canandaigua, NY
    I learned a cello part for a song and focused on a soft attack and some slides. Sounded pretty good. The band leader had cut the song before we even got to practice it, oh well. I wondered if a compressor with the attack rolled of would sound more cello like?
  18. Fredde


    Oct 21, 2010
    Helsinki, Finland

    The reason you have trouble getting the tones to sound is the layer of fat on your strings. The strings need to be clean, and the bow rosined for it to work. (If you look closely at double bass players (or violinists/cellists), you'll notice that they stay close to the neck when they pick with their fingers so they don't contaminate the area near the bridge which is used for bowed playing.)

    So if you really want to do this, clean your strings and after that never touch the spot you want to bow.

  19. Instead of the bow.. : )

    You could always try and use a "swell" effect instead
    and see if it can work for the part..
    It won't sound bowed but it does work for this..

    Swell effects work pretty well for this, you just have to
    set the swell rate to match the tempo of the song..

  20. duderasta


    Feb 25, 2010
    Lake Placid, FL
    try using a slide! if you use a slight vibrato motion it can get pretty close to a bowed sound

    and +1 to the volume swells too, with a volume pedal and a slide it should get about as close as you can...

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