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I'm jumping into the deep end...soon-to-be URB player looking for advice

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by McThud, Mar 5, 2016.

  1. McThud

    McThud Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2013
    Arlington, VA
    So, as I've been an electric player for over 20 years, I've decided I want to learn how to play upright bass. Where I live, there is quite a demand for upright players in many genres; after a few years of people asking me if I played upright, and disappointed when I answered negatively, I've decided that adding these skills would make me a better all around player anyway.

    As much as I know about electric instruments, I know absolutely nothing of value in terms of looking for a well-made starter upright, brands, pricing - nothing. I've been connected with an amazing local teacher, who is a ridiculously talented player in his own right, and I know he'll have recommendations for me; that said, the TB community has always been supportive and helpful for me, so I wanted to see if you all had any direction for me to begin my research. I'm completely open to any suggestions or ideas you might have.

    Preemptive strike, I will most likely rent for a few months while I research; I figure that'll be a better way to begin anyway. Thanks in advance for any ideas you might have.
  2. There are many threads here for newbie and novice and beginner double bassists if you do a search.
    The best clue I can offer is that double bass and bass guitar have almost nothing in common but the standard tuning and the word bass in the names. Completely different instruments. The more quickly the player acknowledges this, the better.
    The double bass does get more respect.
    drurb likes this.
  3. HateyMcAmp

    HateyMcAmp Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2006
    Denver, Colorado
    I like your plan; you are way ahead of the curve by having a teacher already lined up. IMHO, this aspect is way more important than buying a bass at this stage. If you have access to a rental from a reputable string shop, that will be all you need at this point. If you are ready to buy a bass, set a budget, find a shop that has a couple available in that price range, and have your teacher come along. He or she will be able to steer you in the right direction.

    What @old spice said above about the DB being only a distant cousin from the BG is true, but don't let that get you down. It will take some time to learn, as well as a lot of work, but luckily for you the DB is a fun and rewarding instrument to learn. Put a year of work in with your teacher and you will grow massively as a musician, and you'll be well positioned to start and take some of those DB gigs you are pining for. Talkbass is a great resource as well, but make sure to spend most of your time in the technique subforums as opposed to the ones dedicated to strings and amps/pickups. ;)
    drurb likes this.
  4. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    First of all, welcome to the dark side! :) Your approach to all of this ideal. Many other BG players looking to play DB who have posted in these threads have not had the insight that you do. You have a teacher, you're going to rent first. Perfect. You've gotten some excellent advice so far. Mine will repeat some of it.

    Indeed, as said above, the DB and BG are two related, but very different instruments. They require different approaches and different techniques. That you play BG does set you far ahead of a complete newbie. One thing often overlooked is the probability of injury if the DB is approached incorrectly. Even experienced players suffer injury now and again. It seems that you've got that covered.

    As for buying a DB, I agree that your teacher is likely to be an excellent resource in terms of helping you to choose a DB that sounds good and that fits your needs. That said, I've met a number of stellar teachers who don't know all that much about the nuts and bolts of basses, how they're built, and which are worthy of purchase. I never would fault them for that. They have typically been monster players steeped in the music. They tend to have ended up with fine basses and consider them to be tools of the trade. I suggest that you learn all that you can. Here is a great place to start. Then, there are these accompanying threads.

    I'll only repeat one bit of advice in those linked threads. Buy a bass from a real bass shop. Oh yes, now some terms (to be accepted in the lighthearted spirit in which they are offered):

    The BG has a headstock; the DB has a scroll and pegbox.
    The BG has a fretboard; the DB has a fingerboard.
    The BG is adjusted for action; the DB is adjusted for string height.
    On the BG, notes are fretted; on the DB notes are fingered.

    Above all, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Many in this community stand ready to help you.
  5. McThud

    McThud Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2013
    Arlington, VA
    Thanks for that. As a long-time electric player, I'm well aware that this will require a ton of work. I'm not a kid - I'm not afraid of work. Thanks for your response.
    old spice likes this.
  6. McThud

    McThud Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2013
    Arlington, VA
    Thanks for your insight. I'll be renting from a really reputable shop (the owner is a friend of mine who builds violins by trade). I'll take a look at the links you provided once I'm ready to jump in financially speaking. I'm excited about it as I think, selfishly, it'll make me a better player overall, regardless of instrument - plus, I think it'll shed some new light for me as a band member and support rhythm player. And, hey, if it gets me more respect as a musician, bring it!
  7. McThud

    McThud Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2013
    Arlington, VA
    I know this will be "getting schooled" for quite some time. Heck, even as a long time electric player, I still take lessons with some frequency, and "shed" a few times a week, regardless of gigging schedules. Plus, I'll need to learn bowing as a brand new skill - I see that taking the longest and being the most frustrating but I'll cross that hurdle eventually! Thanks!
  8. I hope I'm not too late to the thread but I want to offer words of "you made a good decision OP!".


    Three months ago, I got my upright and I've been easily putting in an hour a day. It has changed my perspective on bass guitar itself, and honestly, I'm thinking DB might be my soulmate instrument. On a deep, physical level, it feels good to play. I can't tell you much about bowing since I'm too far in love with pizzicato to even touch the bow, but it'll take a little while to learn. I transferred from fretless so things were pretty easy.

    What is your budget for instruments?
  9. McThud

    McThud Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2013
    Arlington, VA
    Honestly, I don't know enough about what's available to even have a budget. At first, though, I'll most likely rent so I'll have time to shop around for a good instrument. Also, as my teacher is also a successful player in his own right, he'll end up steering me in a pretty good direction. From what I can gather, I figured a budget in the $1500 - $2000 range would be a good starting point when I begin to look.

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