Making a transition

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Savaaris, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. Savaaris


    Mar 1, 2013
    So im a bass guitarist of about 8 years, and im looking to make a transition to playing double bass, how hard will this transition be?
  2. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON

    Here is some other good reading about "transitioning". In short, most people will agree that it isn't transitioning, but learning an entirely new instrument. You will obviously retain your knowledge of the role a bass plays in an ensemble, your musicianship, etc. but there aren't a whole lot of similarities after that. Unlike switching between acoustic, electric, or classical guitars and to a lesser extent bass guitar, you are really stepping into fundamentally different territory. It can be done and there are obviously a lot of people who double, but it is going to take a lot of work.

    We all strongly recommend seeking out a qualified teacher. It is very easy to develop poor technique that can lead to serious injury. Although very few double bassists like to talk openly about it, (as it can lead to losing work) most have faced injury at some point in their careers. Some have had to stop playing entirely, some were able to come back after rest and therapy, and even more play in various amounts of chronic bass related/induced pain.

    None of the above is intended to scare you (too much anyway) but to encourage you to pursue this "the right way". If you do so and you really want to learn, you can and will be successful.
  3. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2011
    Torrance, CA
    Mike said it all. Very well, too.
  4. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    Probably the only carryover from guitar is theory. The UB playing position is vertical not horizontal, there aren't any frets, the scale length/mensure is huge compared to a guitar. The physical aspect of playing is significant as is the set up and choice of strings - proper technique combined w/a good set up will help you develop strength, endurance, accuracy without damaging your fingers/wrist/forearm/shoulder. It takes years to develop just the physical aspect of playing UB. The most common learning methodology is Samandl, a classical music approach which involves a precise fingering system and the use of a bow (arco) to develop/ensure proper intonation. You will need a teacher to help you w/this, there are nuances to the fingering and bowing is a distinct discipline unto itself. The use of a bow opens up the bass delivering the clearest tone/pitch. Yes you can stick w/pizz (finger plucking) but the bass comes alive w/a bow. Learning the UB is a slow process and labor of love. I have been playing the UB for 3+ years and I am still a beginner, I play in several jazz groups and just joined an adult/youth classical orchestra. Some days are better than others
  5. I actually feel there's a little more carryover than some are suggesting. The general feeling of where you are on a string instrument doesn't depend much on what the instrument is, and learning that is a major skill. So, you'll have an easier time than a complete beginner.

    However, the physical approach really is completely different, and it will take time and lessons to develop that; apart from anything else, you need to build fitness in the necessary muscles and that will take a few months, at the very least. Also, avoiding injury is really, really important.

    You'll also need to learn how to hear your intonation in the midst of whatever else is going on, which isn't trivial.
  6. One thing to keep in mind - it will seem like you lost half your ability to play. It's still there, you just need to practice more to bring it out on DB.
  7. Savaaris


    Mar 1, 2013
    You guys are the best, couldnt have answered my question more perfectly, thanks guys