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Learning Upright Bass

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by fadlan bassman, Jun 9, 2002.

  1. fadlan bassman

    fadlan bassman

    Oct 23, 2001
    I currently play an electic 5 string ibanez and a 4 string fender. I am interested in the upright , but from what i understand it is a totaly different animal and it would be like starting all over again. Has anyone done this and how difficult was the switch.
  2. I have been in the same place as you, I started on DB about 2 years ago. I do have to say it's like starting over, but remember this, you still know theory and all the other things that are seperate from playing bass. I would say find the best bass you could afford, have it well set up and expect to find it harder to play. But more than anything else FIND A GOOD TEACHER! I can't stress this enough, a good teacher will help you relate to the DB as a seperate instrument from BG, and help reveal most of the mysteries of DB. But most of all, trust your ears, the range of DB and BG is the same and with time what you learned from BG will help you out on DB.

    Good Luck!
  3. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire
    (Sorry for the duplication as I was typing at the same time as mike da mook.)

    fadlan bassman,

    It is quite common to "switch over".

    Yes, the double bass is a different animal and is so much more physically demanding than the electric.
    Your biggest challenge will be in trying to play the upright the same way as you play the bass guitar.

    If you are serious about this instrument long term, then get a teacher.

    All of the above said, it is still GDA & E. Even though the instrument is different the music is the same.

    Go for it!
  4. That is true, but I think there needs to be some clarification. You CANNOT play the DB like the BG. You MUST learn a new fingering system and that's the biggest challenge. If you try using the same fingering for DB as BG you will end up becoming very discouraged (I learned this from hard experience) it happened to me after 6 months of working on my own I went to a teacher and that was the first thing we worked on. With that said, you'll love the DB!

    Good luck, have fun.
  5. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    A couple of observations; some of the students that came to me for DB lessons after playing BG seemed to have some fear of the instrument on a physical level. DB demands a genuine commitment on that level, just to get a musical sound out of it. It is not well suited to people who need instant gratification. It is very rewarding for those who get past the initial pain and discomfort. Also, because you will most likely be playing with classical and/or jazz musicians at some point, a thick skin is sometimes important, because folks in our line of work tend to disperse unedited criticism! This can be very educational if you look at it as part of your education, which continues, ideally, throughout your lifetime. Just keep asking questions, and get a teacher.
  6. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    The only difference between work and play is attitude. If you want to play the bass, you'll just deal with the challenges, like everyone else has. They aren't that bad unless you think they are.
  7. And nothing is better than the realization that your work has had results. I will always remember the first time I was able to play with people and really hang! WOW!
    One more thing, after you play the DB you may find it hard to go back to BG (things like tone, feel, and just how much cooler playing DB looks!)
  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I actually enjoy the BG more now that I'm playing mostly DB. I do an electric gig maybe once a week, and play it for what it was designed to do, rather than wish I was playing the real thing. Afterwards, it goes back in the closet til next time, and I'm a paycheck closer to covering my bills for another month.
  9. Yeah, it actually is nicer playing the electric as it's own instrument. I remember spending so much time trying to make it sound more like the DB. It's kind of sad. I've actually been on the look out for some rock stuff I can do on the electric myself.
    You know, you can take your BG out of the closet, people are much more open minded these days.:D
  10. fadlan bassman

    fadlan bassman

    Oct 23, 2001
    I'm about to take the plunge. I have been looking at a place called BrookMayes music. They have a rental program, which is like 50$ a month and that goes to purchase price. 5$ extra a month and all maint is free including strings and setup. The Bass is a 3/4 K.Reiser (Never heard of before) has ebony fingerboard and 3 ply plywood construction. Comes with a gig bag and a bow. Are plywood basses decent and what should I request as far as setup??
  11. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Go sift through the newbie threads under the heading Basses.
  12. fadlan bassman

    fadlan bassman

    Oct 23, 2001
    I have looked around a bit before posting that, but I have not found anything on that bass brand, or what the difference is between 3 ply or 1 ply(?) . I do know that carved is much better.

  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    1-ply would be a solid piece of wood.

    Other than the brand name, most of the questions that you would have are covered in the newbie thread as far as rent-to-own, ply versus hybrid, ply with the Stick'O Pain, etc., etc.

    The shortest answer would be this. If you can get the bass out of the shop for a minute or two so that you can get it to your local luthier for a look-see, then you should. If you can't and still go for it, then get it to your luthier at some point and make sure that you have something that's at least structurally sound. It'll likely end up at the luthier prety quick anyhow for a setup that you want.

    I would also be curious if the rent-to-own would allow for an upgrade to a better intrument when the time comes. Not that you'll necessarily want to do this, but it would be nice to have the option.
  14. I've asked teachers about what I should do as far as set up is concerned and got the answer make the bass feel and sound good to you. Most importatnt to me would be an adjustable bridge, strings that sound and feel good, and a fingerboard that's well dressed so no high spots kill any notes. Other than that you need to live and learn. You should find a teacher and see if he/she has old strings that you could put an your bass to see if they sound/feel good to you, otherwise you'll spend much money searching for the "right" string.
  15. fadlan bassman

    fadlan bassman

    Oct 23, 2001
    I finally got one, its a christopher bass, it's a rent to own job. It looks like its flat under the E string. The rest of the fretboard seems rounded. It does have a crack though under the A string( I purchased insurance so I guess they will replace). It does have an adjustable bridge and the strings feel pretty good, it came with a german bow and a soft case. i want to check out some fingerings on the web or if some one can recommend a good DVD untill i can afford to take lessons.
  16. Getting a teacher is a big big issue, no video is going to help.
    There is not any DVD's that I know of, you could pick up a book. Some people use the Simalli (or some thing like that) I use Bille.
    The big problem of doing it with out a teacher is long lasting if not never ending injury.

    One tip I can give is: pluck the open E, finger the D string whle lightly pressing down. Keep plucking the D until you find an E. Now release the note, pluck it dead, slowly apply presure until the E on the D sounds. Remember how much pressure you used and never forget it. It is very easy to play the DB and strain yourself. The thumb is not used to play the note. The strength should come from your sholder and upper arm. Again these are things that are much easier with a teacher.
  17. Amen to all of the above.....
  18. fadlan bassman

    fadlan bassman

    Oct 23, 2001
    You mean with fretting (left hand) right? my wrist does hurt when i try and play scales or 12 bar blues . Mainly after playing for a while or if i play on the E string for too long.
  19. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    As The Don is fond of saying, res ipsa loquitur -- its speaks for itself. Fadlan, a good instructor will keep your from physically harming yourself, help you not to reinvent the wheel and encourage you. Go!
  20. Just keep with it.

    Its going to be hard at first. Your fingers will hurt like hell (if not bleed at first) and you'll get pretty frustrated when you begin. Although your skills on the electric bass pretty much go down the drain on a DB, your Double Bass playing will definately help your Electric playing. Your fingers will be stronger, you'll have faster chops and much better intonation. And also, if your switch from fretted electric to Fretless DB you will encounter a little trouble there for awhile. But, if you find a good teacher to help you, you'll get the intonation in no time.

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