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Logistics of doubling in the pit

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by tornadobass, Mar 29, 2005.


  1. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    I'm soon doing my first pit orchestra for a local musical and it requires doubling on upright and electric bass (Fender, as the music calls it).

    What are some strategies for switching between the instruments?

    For example, how do you quietly and unobtrusively set down or pick up an upright when moving from/to the electric?

    In blues settings, I've simply laid the upright on its side on the floor, but I don't know if it works well in a pit because of space constraints and other players being nearby. Do players put the upright on a stand when playing the electric?

    Thanks for ideas!
     
  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I have doubled several times in a pit on both acoustic guitar and electric bass along with DB. I have an Ingles stand that works VERY well for this purpose. It's basically a giant guitar stand. The best thing is that the lower arms that hold the bass adjust high enough that you can extend the pin quite a ways and still safely put the bass on the stand.

    I don't like to roll a bass over on the bouts unless it is a carpeted floor. (Not likely in a pit) Plus it is easily kicked into a chair or otherwise. On the stand, not only does it take up less space, it is huge and people will see it. Just make sure you are in the back or it'll anger someone trying to see over it. It's typically the case, but some folks will come up with alternate configs sometimes.

    IME, you can stick it on the stand more quickly and certainly more quietly than you can safely lay it on it's side. The stand even has a hook for the bow.

    For your slab, be sure you use an old-school style stand. In those tight spaces, the newer easel-style or other collapsible stands are a headache waiting to happen, especially if you are swapping quickly.

    Make absolutely sure the conductor knows when you have to swap. Not that they'll remember or care, but you can get burned. It's also not a bad idea to talk to the sound tech about the switches. If he or she knows where they are, they can kill the line on the DB (if there is one) so any bumps during the transition are not further amplified and you don't have to worry about feedback on the DB when it is sitting unplayed.

    If this isn't possible, you might want to rig up a footswitch that will do it. I have used a Morley A/B switch as a mute and it works well. I've even balanced the two inputs using the lines level controls and used the A/B to run slab and DB on the same board channel. As long as the house isn't EQing it significantly to get a decent sound, it works great. You'll never miss a switch this way (too badly anyhow) since if the one you are playing is one, the other isn't.
     
  3. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    Great reply...thanks for all the ideas. I've ordered the Ingles stand. The theater is fairly small, so I don't think I'll need to amplify the upright. But the first rehearsal will tell that for sure.

    Otherwise, I'll have my Ingles on one side and the old school electric stand on the other.

    Lots of stuff to schlep when I add in my WM12 amp and the stool, too.
     
  4. Brian K

    Brian K Supporting Member

    May 21, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    Straplocks, or some other kind of easy to remove guitar strap help me make my switches without the need to raise the electric bass over my head to remove it.

    Sitting down to play electric with no strap would speed up the switches even more.
     
  5. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    I would get there sometime before the rehearsals start and scope out the situation. If there's limited room, maybe you can put yourself in a corner where the upright could stand up when playing Fender(you would hear yourself better, too). If you're in the open and have more room, bring a length of carpet to put your bass down on quietly(expecially if amplified). I'd recommend a heavy guitar stand(Hamilton?) for the electric so it won't end up falling on the floor during a quick change.

    Ike
     
  6. dodgy_ian

    dodgy_ian

    Apr 9, 2001
    Newcastle, UK
    its all about stands basically and making sure you carve yourself out enuf space in the pit! all the best, i've not had to double in the pit yet, but i suspect its coming soonish.

    The alternative might be to use a fretless with flatwounds to get as nr a double bass sounds as pos? Might be better if pit is v small?

    dodge
     
  7. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    I've thought about using either my Godin A4 fretless or my Bugbass EUB. I'll see how the doubling works out first, but keep these alternatives in mind.
     
  8. Just out of nosiness...er, curiosity, which musical is it? I've played quite a few, but not many that required db/bg doubling.
     
  9. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    I'll be attempting The Secret Garden. There are some sort of operatic parts with both arco & pizz. And about 4 or 5 rock pieces on electric. Scared me the first time I saw it until I reconciled the soundtrack with the written notes. BTW, a ton of key changes, like from 4 sharps to 6 flats and then somewhere else.
     
  10. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Haven't heard the score...could you maybe play the whole thing on EUB?

    I've played some pretty nice arco things on my Bugbass, and some amazingly thrashy loud stuff as well.
     
  11. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    However, not drawing attention to yourself between tunes by switching instruments greatly reduces the chances of a quality egogasm. :)
     
  12. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    The part I haven't sorted out on the Bugbass yet is managing the difference in volume between pizz & arco. Arco is many times louder and would require a lot of turning the volume control or using a pedal.

    Marcus, how have you managed that?
     
  13. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Hah!...good question. To be honest, I haven't had to do both on one gig, it's been one or the other. I guess a volume pedal would be the way to go.

    I did some pretty frightening arco stuff on a big subwoofered rig on the Bugbass, at some stadium shows in Tahiti. The low B string was kind of mindboggling. In the context of a pit band, I think you would want a bit more control over your own dynamics.
     
  14. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    Okay...did the first rehearsal last night in semi-real time with the cast.

    URB on my left on an Ingles stand, electric on my right on an "old school" stand. WM12 plugged in behind me to the right.

    I think it went pretty smoothly and can't imagine not using the Ingles stand. Not enough room to lay the big bass down.

    Just to add to the challenge, this was my first time working with a conductor in about 20 years :crying:
     
  15. Elia

    Elia

    Apr 12, 2005
    Cincinnati
    i heard a funny story from our director on "joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat" about the terrible keys. we were theorizing that they were for the singers, but obviously the difference between, say, F# and G is generally not going to be a problem for a singer, but for a trumpet player in Bb to play in his key of G# is hell of annoying! the director said they had started doing it back in the early days of broadway "to keep the riffraff out of the pit," i.e. if you can't play the keys, get out.
     
  16. tornadobass

    tornadobass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Iowa City, Iowa
    Endorsing Artist: Black Diamond & SuperSensitive strings
    I heard a simpler explanation...that the tunes modulate and that creates moves between sharps and flats...for example, I'm looking at a piece that moves from (I think) C#- to Db, briefly to Eb, and then to E.

    That's basically 4 sharps to 5 flats to 3 flats to 4 sharps.

    Lots to keep track of...but yes, it surely would keep away the riffraff...almost kept me away :bassist: