Intonation differences between bow and pizz

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by HunterBrodt, Oct 14, 2011.

  1. HunterBrodt


    Aug 24, 2009
    Is it just me that experiences better accuracy when using pizz technique? It seems like when I use a bow my intonation gets worse.
  2. Herbie 80's

    Herbie 80's

    Dec 15, 2008
    It might be because your intonation isn't very good, and the bow shows it. It can be harder to tell intonation with pizz because the note decays so fast.
  3. HunterBrodt


    Aug 24, 2009
    No my intonation with pizz is great. It's probably that I just started with a bow like two months ago and that technique is not second nature so it's hard to pay attention to intonation.
  4. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    This is usually a big part of it, but your intonation might actually be worse arco if you mostly play pizz. If you are more comfortable playing pizz, you can concentrate more on your left hand and intonation while you play pizz, and conversely if you are not as comfortable playing arco, the extra attention going to your right hand may throw off your intonation. I've even seen good classical players have intonation problems when trying to play extended jazz-type pizz lines.

    But yeah, mostly the bow just makes intonation problems much more obvious.
  5. HunterBrodt


    Aug 24, 2009
    This^ my intonation is almost spot on pizz up to A above the harmonic g. It just seems like my focus shifts with the bow.
  6. That's a statement I'd never make. I don't want to be asinine here, but maybe your ear isn't as good as you think it is. I think it's safe to say that no matter how good you get you'll always have to fight bad intonation. Actually, I believe that as you get better you'll notice your mistakes even more.

    But here's another thing to consider: When you're bowing, the weight on the string stretches it out and effectively changes the set-up of the bass in subtle way. So you have to have your fingers in slightly different places to make the same pitches. So you've got muscle memory fighting your ear. That might be what you're experiencing.

    Also, as pointed out, it's easier to hear mistakes with arco -- partly because the atonal percussive thump isn't there to create overtones to muddle the waters...
  7. HunterBrodt


    Aug 24, 2009
    Ha yeah that is probably true.

    I've been taking lessons with a new instructor while my normal one is on tour and he has been changing much of my technical approach. Not so much positions but how I hold the bass and the height. It's really frustrating, but I can see the potential benefits.
  8. Out of curiosity: did he/she make you raise or lower the bass? What was their reasoning?
  9. HunterBrodt


    Aug 24, 2009
    To change where in place the tip of my fingers and how in get into tp
  10. lincland


    Nov 8, 2004
    Dallas, TX
    Bowing is like putting your intonation under the microscope. The pizz tone is less centered and somewhat more ambiguous, and obviously doesn't sustain like bowing. Draw your own conclusions.
  11. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I believe pulled strings rise and fall in pitch, which smears "pitch center" a bit. The "excitation phase" (or whatever), time-wise, is shorter when the string is bowed.
  12. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    I find even changing my stance or wearing shoes with thicker soles throws off my intonation. My intonation is way better w/the bow, there's no question if a note is in tune or out.
  13. No, the first response is correct. The bow is the truth. Face it, and you will be better for it. There is no difference.
  14. gprigge


    Dec 19, 2007
    Rice Lake, Wis.
    "The bow is the truth."

  15. Tedbass


    Aug 9, 2013
    I know this is an old thread but I have also experienced a difference in intonataion when I play with the bow.

    My problem is that when I play with the bow i need to move my hand up the neck ( towards the body) to be in tune. But then when i check if I'm tune with pizz, holding that same position, I'm sharp. For example :

    I'm going to play a low G, i check if it's in tune by playing the open g. Then i play the low g with my bow and i feel that i'm flat so i move up the neck to play in tune. And then i checked with pizz again, playing that open g and i'm sharp. I even played to a drone to see if i was right.

    Have anyone had the same issue or is this the way it's supposed to be?
  16. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Inactive

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    Are you pushing too hard with the bow into the string and bending it out of tune?

    Johnny tells me i play more out of tune notes with the bow than with the left hand.
  17. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I never noticed this. I don't think about this and it never hindered my playing. But good to know anyway.

    No matter how you play, arco or pizz your intonation has to be right. I can hear my intonation just as good when playing pizz. You can also practice intonation when playing pizz. Although for some the arco tone is more focused and therefor easier for intonation practice. But there really shouldn't be any difference if you have good pizz sustain on your bass.
  18. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I've heard only a few jazz players that have really good intonation. When they bow, this is often painfully clear. Do lots of practicing with the bow and your intonation will get much better.
  19. Charley Sabatino

    Charley Sabatino

    Jan 25, 2006
    Bayside, NY
    Endorsed by Lakland, Hartke, SIT, Kahler , Igig and Lathon Bass Wear
    One of my teachers used to say Intonation is in 3 parts...Tune, Tone and Time.

    If one of those is lacking, you are going to sound out of tune...because you are new at arco, I suspect your tone still needs it improves, so will your intonation....
  20. Edvin


    Feb 25, 2010
    actually pizz is sharpening the note unless you're playing really really soft. If you get a perfect C for example, the C sharpens by +10-20 cents depending on starting bow pressure /speed and pizz power.

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