Learning upright necessary?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by ELITE55, Feb 6, 2013.

  1. ELITE55


    Oct 22, 2011
    Hi I've been playing electric for 6 years (24 years old) and I've decided I want to go all in and make music my career/life. I'm really interested in working cruise ships for a little while and going from there. I'm also looking into the military. I'm about to attend the players school of music in Florida this spring to advance my electric skills but I'm really considering adding upright. So do you think it's critical that I learn upright if I want to have a successful career? Thanks
  2. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I don't think it's critical but it certainly makes your playing skills more diverse which may translate to more gigs good luck in your future endeavors.
  3. I would not say that learning double bass is necessary to a career in music as a bass player. The fact that the double bass is such a challenging instrument makes it hard to pursue it as a secondary instrument. Although not impossible, a lot of time would be spent learning the instrument that could be spent on your bass guitar. Learning the double bass proficiently enough to earn some real bread by playing orchestra, broadway shows, the better jazz gigs in your area, and what-not would basically mean putting the electric bass down for a while.
    On the other hand, proficiency in some simpler music on the instrument i.e; Bluegrass, some Jazz, or Folk music, would be great to fill in the holes of your gig calendar.
    This is not meant to in any way to discourage you from trying the double bass, it is an extremely rewarding instrument. Take care and I will see you in the spring.
    Joe Porter
    Director of ensembles, instructor Double bass and Bass guitar, The Players School of Music
  4. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    As far as a second instrument, piano might be beneficial. It's my understanding that having some piano under your belt makes it easier to learn things like theory and arranging.
  5. I play both, subject to the limitations I'll explain, and I agree with both posts above.

    I never really developed the sight reading chops to be a professional bassist, although my knowledge of theory is very good and I definitely know how to play bass. Call me a fairly talented amateur/weekend warrior.

    About five years ago I added double bass to my skill set -- it definitely requires some lessons -- and it was a great addition. I am not a pro, but even at my level it doubled my calls for gigs. There's jazz, bluegrass and the current Americana wave like Mumford & Sons - people want an upright player for a lot of gigs, even if you're not at a classical/pro level.

    for what that's worth ... :bassist:

    edit: agree about the piano comment too, but that's a separate point IMO.
  6. ELITE55


    Oct 22, 2011
    Hey thanks for the advice guys. I think I'll attend the school and if i find that I like it I might take it up as my secondary. Wouldn't hurt learning but just need to figure out if it would be worth it or not.
  7. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    Since you're attending The Players School of Music maybe you could get a lesson with Jeff's pianist Richard Drexler, who teaches at UCF. He's a great upright bassist as well as jazz pianist.
    It's not necessary, but it will give you more opportunities to work. Don't be intimidated to add it as a double. BTW, you should definitely check out piano, too!
  8. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Just my opinion, but if you want to make a living as a professional musician, you need to tap every possible area of income. I wouldn't limit myself by not learning upright bass.
  9. ELITE55


    Oct 22, 2011
    Ya I'm very tempted to pick up upright but since I'm 24 I feel like I would have to put electric aside if I wanted to get good by the time I reached 26,27. I guess you could say I'm impatient but I would just have to put that much more time into it if I wanted to be great at both.
  10. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    I am 52 & just started sight-reading 3 years ago. It's low going but you're 1/2my age, learn it. It opens doors...that & the upright.
  11. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Electric bassist with 32 years playing here.

    I dabbled with upright a couple of years ago and let me tell you, your chops on electric WILL improve. The upright is a VERY physically demanding instrument and after only a week or so on it I got back on my electric and I could absolutely fly. The biggest challenge I had switching back and forth was digging in too hard on my electric after playing upright since I play with a relatively light touch on electric. They are completely different instruments which just happen to be strung the same and share the same frequency range.

    That all being said... If I could choose to double on either electric and upright bass or electric and piano, I'd choose piano 10 times out of ten.
  12. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    You don't need to be Edgar Meyer to gig. Just work on playing in tune and in time and work with a good teacher. I picked it up seriously again 10 years ago after a 20 year layoff and it's 50% of my income now.
  13. klejst


    Oct 5, 2010
  14. Stilettoprefer


    Nov 26, 2010
    You don't NEED to, but if you want jazz, folk and orchestra gigs, you'll have a much easier time knowing how to play it well and owning one.

    I'm in the process of learning orchestral style upright. It's a lot of fun using a bow and learning how to sight read is gonna be useful in the future. I play a little bit of jazz, but I can't stand listening to it and big band playing isn't my dig, so I'm gonna quit playing in my schools jazz band. The teacher is also a giant ass that hates me using an electric bass.
  15. thehindteet


    Jan 15, 2013
    I made the transition in my early 30s and have a few pieces of advice. (btw how awesome to have these serious cats like Roy Vogt and Joe Porter to give advice on this, you guys are awesome).

    You should only do it if you are really interested in the instrument and the music, reason being, you need to spend a lot of hours playing it, so you either need to enjoy the rehearsing or be playing with people a lot in some style of music you enjoy. There is definitely no harm in not being into the instrument. I think its a question you can answer for yourself if you reflect on it for a while. It takes a pretty big investment in time just to get to the point where you won't be ashamed to play a simple tune in public :)

    The other part (and this may or may not be a problem depending on your financial situation) is that its a pretty big investment. I would try to avoid getting mired in thinking about equipment when you're making the decision, but its going to set you back a few thousand bucks to get into a decent bass and bow. Although I know many guys have learned to play on their own, good technique is not nearly as intuitive on the electric so I definitely spent probably 2-3 grand for 4-5 semesters of instruction (and I could use way more, let me tell you).

    If you are not totally into the idea of being proficient on the DB its hard not to get discouraged after you lay out all that bread and you still stink after months of work, because you will definitely suck for a pretty long time.

    If you _are_ into then for god's sake don't wait to get started because you gotta lot of work ahead of you :)
  16. ELITE55


    Oct 22, 2011
    You guys have been beyond helpful. I'm going to ponder a little on wether or not I want to go all in with it financially and time wise. In the meantime I'm going to stay all in with the electric and head to the players school and see what happens. Thanks again for all the advice!