Lean bass to left or right...?

Discussion in 'Rockabilly [DB]' started by tzadik, Jan 22, 2007.

  1. tzadik


    Jan 6, 2005
    I see a lot of slappers/rockabilly bassists leaning their basses in the opposite direction of the typical jazz/classical/lean-it-toward-you thang. Why does this work/what does it do? Thoughts/comments/anecdotes/discussion?
  2. Sometimes it might just look cooler to hold it out from you at arms length for a bit, kind of how guitarists point their guitars out at the crowd...

    Unless I'm moving around or something I usually hug it close.
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    No offense meant to this genre, but I think it is somewhat fair to say that technique is not at the forefront of the minds of many of the rockabilly players.

    You see an awful lot of flat finger stops and neck choking. Playing rockabilly is a sweaty endeavor. I think they also do it to just change the muscle position and relief fatigue.
  4. No offense to other genres, but I think it is more than fair to say that Technique is at the forefront of most every Rockabilly player's mind just like any musician's mind, be they a drummer, harpist or a vocalist.

    "Gee is my intonation on? Should I throw in a triple slap in the next bar of the song if there's enough space around what the other musicians are doing, or would it disrupt the flow? How does Milt Hinton get such a great fluid succession of triple slaps and make it sound and look so effortless; How can I incorporate his use of three and two note slap groupings into my own playing?"

    While classical players work on their bowing technique and jazzers are pizzing around, RaB players are working on their slapping technique. I've seen all manner of musicians perspiring over their technique, for their art -- from classical violinists to jazz flautists to new age ... okay, maybe not any new age musicians, but every other genre, sure.

    Whatever style of music you play, let the music dictate the technique, and not the other way around. Is Jeff Healey a lesser blues guitarist because he plays using his thumb and all his fretting fingers over the top of the neck with the guitar on his lap? Is Django Reinhardt any less brilliant because he didn't have full use of all his fretting fingers and couldn't execute chords like Segovia?

    Is Flametrick Sub's Lefty DeMarco a lesser musician because he doesn't use his fingers at all to intonate a note on his bass? http://rockabillybass.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4200&start=20

    Regardless of musical genre, I've seen perfect technique with less than inspiring results and plenty of "bad technique" with flat fingers, neck choking, basses turned upside down and MUSIC was being made.
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA

    Really, no offense intended. Perhaps "traditional" technique would have been a more fair way to say it. In no way am I being critical of the playing or the music.

    The point is that there is much to traditional technique that has developed to minimize stress on the smaller muscles and maximize economy of movement and endurance. It is as it is.

    When you venture outside that, you have to deal with the circumstances. Some BG and rockabilly players have excellent traditional technique. Some jazz players do not.

    Are the making music? Certainly. I was not questioning that.

    It was my point that straightening the left arm would be one way of fighting muscle stress. Just as you would adjust a heavy load if you were carrying it a significant distance.
  6. lol @ no offense.

    It's a different genre with different styles. just because we utilize different techniques doesn't make us any less of a player or any less critical of our own techinque. We choose our genre b/c it is what we like and are passionate about. We are more animated, move around the stage more and give the audience high energy. We aren't going to stand in one place being all rigid for the sake of having our thumb stuck to the back of the neck and pulling the bass into us.
  7. I think everyone is right here-I've seen it done each way. It's not up to the genre at all, I've seen plenty of sloppy rockabilly guys just there to show off their big instrument, and "look I can slap 1000 times a minute" with no rhythm at all. Others have very good technique.

    I've seen moving around with the bass, throwing it in the air, over ones heads, standing on it and other stunts, etc, much more in RAB than anything else. It's a big instrument and can get tiring. If you can incorporate releasing muscle fatigue into showmanship, more power to you. Why not do what's comfortable?

    I just reread Chasarms first comment, about technique not being at the forefront of player's minds. Individual's are different, yada yada etc, but with a naturally louder RAB band, involving many other loud instruments, technique loses a (teeny tiny) bit of importance than if you were playing quietly in a solo hall or unamplified or in another position where tiny mistakes are more likely to be noticed. Doesn't mean you shouldn't strive for the best, but many are fine getting by with decent sound then going that extra bit, which is of course the extra bit that makes a good bassist a great bassist.
  8. My technique is absolutely atroshous. I use BG fingerings instead of the traditional positionings with my left hand. I put my thumb behind the board in thumb position instead of on top. I haven't got a slap technique down yet, but am working on it. My pizz is a mixture of several different things. I am suprisingly smooth with arco, but a seasoned pro would point out everything that I am doing wrong there. When I sit, I lean the bass over as if I am playing BG. But in the end, as long as everybody is happy with the music, and how it went down, all is well.
  9. ColonelZulu

    ColonelZulu Not Impressed By Those Who Flaunt “Authority” Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    I tend to lean mine out more often than in I suppose. However, I'm usually moving it around or moving around it. It's not so much to keep from cramping up; just to get some energy going or to get the right angle to hit on the bass in the particular method I'm using at the time.

    Chasarms - I get what you're trying to say. Understand, slappers here have read the other forums on TB-DB, and see how they negatively characterize us. It's expected you'll see some defensive responses no matter how you couch it.

    These styles of music (rockabilly or bluegrass or others) at this point are "traditional" forms of American music. And, like a clawhammer banjo player, an overhand grip drummer, etc. it is a playing technique specifically adapted for a style of music. Further, a "traditional" style of music...and a "traditional" technique. No less legitimate than anything that existed before it...if that even is the case.

    Could be that in the 1500's some brave soul built one of the first DBs, and experimented with the best way to get sound out of it...and found that he didn't have the strength and endurance and couldn't bear the bleeding blisters to continue this initial method of playing. It didn't catch on because it was too hard. You can't prove me wrong.

    I wouldn't consider a more comfortable and consistent approach to the instrument to be the only REAL way to play it.
  10. I always thought the whole idea of leaning the bass away from the body was to look cool.If you play rockabilly,and you're not to tall,leave the end pin in.That way you can lean it so you can climb up on the bass.If you lean the bass away from you it sort of looks like you are playing a guitar.

    I agree with all the other posters that rab/bluegrass bassist have gotten a badmouthing here on talkbass.Oh well.Big deal,there's still a lot of good info and great guys here too.

    I think technique is a huge issue with learning slap.Single slap,and basic double slap stuff is easy enough to get a handle on,but all the different types of triples and quads,whoa that's tough!

    How in the heck does everyone do the real fast quads,like during a basic walking double slap pattern.I just sort of throw my hand out,first hitting with my palm,middle of the hand,knuckle area(but on the inside),then pop with the ends of my fingers.I can kinda do it,but it's not very accurate or steady.
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    What about getting injured, repetitive strain etc. etc. ?
  12. Actually, alot of my 'bad' technique is due to injury issues. Playing with 'proper' technique was causing strain on my my left arm, and shoulder. I had feedback issues on a gig, and someone said that i should grab the bass with my knees to keep the vibration down. This caused the bass to lean outward, and made it easier to play for me, in my mind as a BG style, for certain things, hence my sitting position. The standing position though was a strain on my knees. I am still learning, still picking up tips for technique as I go.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Err - how do you know that - has a qualified teacher told you that....? :meh:

    Well it sounds like you may be picking up bad habits that will be difficult to break!! :(
  14. jonly


    Oct 3, 2005
    Springfield, il
    I move around a lot, but usually leave the endpin anchored. So, my bass sometimes leans back, forward, left, right. I try not to pay much attention to it. (take that, TB'ers!)
  15. jsbach1982


    Feb 11, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Hate to be Captain Obvious, but if you were feeling strain, you weren't using proper technique. In fact, that's one of the fundamental rules of "classical"/"traditional"/whatever-term-offends-you-the-least technique: if you're feeling strain, then you're doing something wrong.

    If you're frustrated that you can't play URB as well as you can play BG, or that BG feels "easier" to you than DB, or that "traditional" DB technique is difficult for you because it's different from what you learned on BG -- well, yeah, that's life, and everyone who plays both basses has to deal with those issues.

    Just please don't claim that "proper" technique caused you injury. You never know when an eager young bassist will come onto these forums, read your comment, decide to ignore the advice of his teacher/peers, throw traditional technique out the window, and end up completely unable to play because of an injury brought on by his poor technique.

    OKAY! Back on topic. I'm a Jazz Studies major at North Texas, and in our bass class today Lynn showed us how to play....slap bass! Let me tell you, Lynn Seaton is an absolute MONSTER at slap bass.

    Gotta go learn a John Lindsay slap line for class on Monday. Believe me, I have a TON of respect for you guys who play slap exclusively now.

  16. ColonelZulu

    ColonelZulu Not Impressed By Those Who Flaunt “Authority” Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    Hear me brothers and sisters, psychos and hillbillies...the suede-denim secret police will be coming here to save us from ourselves. Those generous, all-knowing elders only have our health and well-being, dare I say, our very SOULS in mind.

    They must try to save us from our evil bass tilting ways...for we know not what we do.

    Can I get a Hallelu?!?!:hyper: :hyper: :hyper: :bassist: :hyper: :hyper:
  17. jonly


    Oct 3, 2005
    Springfield, il
    yeah, we're in for a bumpy ride. I'm proposing that the subforum motto be something along the lines of
    "More locks than Fort Knox."
    "No flame no gain"
  18. Hallelujia, brother.

  19. I really don't mean any disrespect to the tradition of the instrument. I realize that I am not a vertical player, I am a horizontal player, and my 'injuries' may just be a normal thing due to muscle memory. It is not my intention for someone new at the instrument to ignore the traditions (Classical and/or Jazz) of this instrument. I do not know what other peoples backgrounds are, but I myself am a classical/jazz trained DB player, I just layed it down when I was 19 years old, and ignored it until I was 43. As you said - not to state the obvious, but some of us 'folkies' actually have some serious training behind us. I am currently studying fingering/positioning and pivot technique, as well as proper arco technique. Hopefuly this will help with several different issues.
  20. Yes, which is why I took someone elses suggestion, and put a piece of foam between the tailpiece and body. It was kinda difficult to bow holding the bass with my knees - they kind of got in the way.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jun 19, 2021

Share This Page