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I don't get Simandl fingerings

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by josiah goldfish, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. Ok, so if I were to play using the Simandl method, what notes do each fingerings start at?

    I'm going to buy the book, but I haven't found it very readily available. I keep hearing people talking about it, but I don't get it.

    What note does half position start at on the G string? Ab?

    What note does 1st position start at?

    2nd? 3rd? 4th?

    What fingers do I use for each position? 1, 2 and 4 up to a certain point then 1234?

    I will be buying the book, but after borrowing it a while I just don't get it. Could someone please explain it to me?


    P.S. I did a search. It just confused me even more :crying:
  2. The book does explain this all.

    The "half-position" name is a hold-over from the previous century string position names where there are "half-positions" in between every full position. A full position being the position where one plays a diatonic note of the C major scale with the 4th finger on the G string. I'm glad they got rid of that unneeded complication, however, based on old double bass routine, Stuart Sankey kept the first "half-position". IMHO, in the 21st century, this too should be done away with now that the majority of DB players start off on bass guitar or guitar where that first position is always called 1st position. What's the old name good for? Open, 1st, 2nd, 3rd makes more sense, than Open, Half, 1st, 2nd 3rd.

    But anyways, the names don't mean much. The physical fingerings and the principles behind them are important, not the names.

    using the old way..

    > What note does half position start at on the G string? Ab?
    yes, it starts on Ab.

    > What note does 1st position start at?
    On the G string, 1st position starts on A

    > 2nd? 3rd? 4th?
    Bb, B, C

    > What fingers do I use for each position? 1, 2 and 4 up to a certain point then 1234?
    124 up to the 4th finger on the F# on the G string (8 position)
    123 above that until the 3rd finger on the A. (11th position), until 1st on the octave G.

    above that is "thumb position" , T, 1, 2, 3

    I advise taking a few private one on one lessons with a local double bass player/teacher. That will make it all clearer.
  3. sensei_steve

    sensei_steve Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2009
    Reisterstown, MD
    I came up sawing thru simandel. I had no choice back then, but in retrospect i so regret it. It has hampered my playing to this day. That pompous, stuffed shirt, stick up you a$$ german style just isn't for me, especially for jazz.
    My son came up under Rabbath/suzuki. Since it was suzuki i had to sit thru his lessons. I have seen hundreds of Rabbath student players.
    I so wish i never learned simandel.
    My suggestion to you is check out Rabbath on you tube and learn pivots instead of mechanical simandel half positions.
  4. Such bitterness on the day after Thanksgiving. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    All any of the methods do is give you a basis for familiarising yourself with the fingerboard in a consistent and progressive way. The notes themselves don't move around.

    And with any method, like pretty much every other thing in life, at some point the player has to make their own decisions about physical approach. The whole idea is to develop a "starting point" for making those decisions and you can do that with pretty much any of the methodologies out there.
    My suggestion is don't start with youtube, start with a live human being who has a deeper understanding of this than you, that sits in the same room with you.
    Get a teacher.
  6. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    I agree w/Ed. I have been studying DB w/a teacher for 2 years most of it w/Simandl. I could never have learned any of it on my own. Whether it is Simandl, Rabbath, etc you need a teacher.
  7. You can transition to 123 a few positions early, especially if your 4th finger is a bit short, and still be pretty much strict Simandl.

    The main point about Simandl is that it NEVER uses 1234.

    There are three extended fingering techniques beyond Simandl:

    1) The Rabbath 'pivot', where you leave your thumb where it is and pivot the hand a semitone either way... this is really, really useful.

    2) Using the thumb below the octave... occasionally helpful, especially if you're playing something high in a key that uses Db a lot.

    3) 1234. I don't like this, and don't use it, because at least for me it's a recipe for sore hands.
  8. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Like Ed said Simandl is just a starting point. It is just as useful as any other method. Nothing more nothing less. If you start with Simandl that doesn't mean you cannot try other fingerings.
    I always disliked the Simandl position names. I think they are not very logical. So I never use these position names. These names are not important either they are just names that one person invented. You can use whatever name you want.

    I also use the thumb below the G sometimes but why is it Dd? can you illustrate this with an example?
  9. I feel the same way about theory in general - I can't do that, it's against the rules!. That said - If you look at it from this perspective - use the Simandl to get used to the 124 fingerings. then get Ray Brown's Bass Method & learn from that. Ray's fingerings are based on Simandl & I wouldn't consider his playing to have been hampered much.
  10. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    Pretty much what's already been said. I started out with Simandl and Ray Brown fingerings in 1974 and added Rabbath in 2003. I also find it uncomfortable to use 1234 on DB, although both Ray Brown and The American School of Double Bass use them in the middle of the neck. The way it's shaken out for me is that the pivots of Rabbath/Vance work well for soloing ideas and the Simandl 124 fingering works well for bass lines. I mix and match depending on what appears to work and don't think about it too much.
    +1 on getting a teacher.
  11. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    It is regrettable you had a bad experience. I am thankful for the Simandl method to get organization, consistency, and reliability to my approach to bass.

    I agree that for some patterns of jazz/swing idiom, such as the familiar 1-3-5-6-8-6-5-3-1 or 1-3-5-6-b7-6-5-3-1 patterns, Rabbath and its flexibility can be a better approach.

    That's why there is more than one method out there.
  12. IMHO, the Simandl method is not so strict and 'stuffed shirt' as others here post.

    In my blue cover version, there is Appendix 1: Optional Fingering Techniques where Mr. Sankey gives a brief outline of extension positions, and employment of the 3rd finger, and the using the thumb in lower positions with exercises. Granted many pizz players, like myself, don't bother practicing past page 50-something, but some flexibility is there in the book.

    Once the basics are learned, one can adapt to all sorts of new situations. Use the thumb to stop Db and Gb on the D and G string, just do it. Use if for C and F too if it helps for a particular situation. The basic principles are to stop the notes in a way that offers good timbre, intonation, fluidity of movement and human ergonomics.
  13. This is great information as I am in need of learning this too. So if I understand you correctly, the Position number equates to two frets over that on a fretted bass? Ie: 12th Fret is 14th Position?

    I as well am making the transition from my Electric Bass to upright. Loving it so far, but very hard. Can't wait to get a teacher.
  14. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    No, Son. You gotta look at the book again.

    I think there's a method to the madness, but I always need a second to be like "Oh, III/IV is what?"

    I print from a pdf of a re-photocopied edition in German. So I spend a lot of time squinting and saying "Is that what he means there?"
  15. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    My teacher will scratch out some of the written fingerings in my Simandl book and write in his own, so there is room for variation and improvement
  16. I did look at rabbath's technique on YouTube, I must say, I like it! Seems more similar to BG technique to me, but more refined. However, video one discusses positions 1 and 3 (which I understand) but then he expects you to know the rest. Does position 2 start on C on the G string and then you use the 4the finger to stop the D? What happens past position 3? Also, I have an Eb neck, does this affect position 3?

    I've suggested these books to people who wanted to buy me Christmas presents:

    Simandl method
    Rabbath method (which book do I get?)
    Ray brown's method.

  17. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    Before I got the Rabbath books I would work through George Vance's Vol. 1-3 of Progressive Repertoire for Double Bass. It's sort of Rabbath Lite, and will help with the Rabbath Books.
    Simandl is easy, Vol. I and II ( for thumb position).
    The Ray Brown Bass Method
    I would also suggest The Evolving Bassist by Rufus Reid (book and DVD).
    However, I would definitely find a teacher if only to get off on the right foot.
  18. What are the positions past 3? On the G string, I understand the pivot from A to B to C on the fourth finger, and I understand that D pivots to E to F# on the fourth finger to G harmonic on the third finger, but what are positions 2, 4, 5 and 6? I couldn't find anything explaining it.

    Also, is rabbath still applicable to an Eb neck?

  19. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    I would check out all of Hans Sturms YouTube videos for starters. Positions are all determined by harmonics in Rabbath-2nd is the G harmonic above the C note on the G string (fret 5 on an electric). 4th position is the same as thumb position and the G harmonic (fret 12 on an electric). 5th is the D harmonic on what would be fret 19 while 6th would be at the G harmonic above what would be fret 24.
    It is totally applicable to an Eb neck.
  20. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    If you can find "Boardwalkin'" by Hal Robinson, it's a great look at the Rabbath positions.