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Maybe too old to change ??

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by chuck1155, Feb 28, 2003.

  1. chuck1155


    Feb 27, 2003

    I'm new here. I have a desire to be able to play with a jazz group at a local level (playing mainly standards).

    I have a story but I won't bore you with all the details, only a few. I am 47 yrs old and been playing the guitar (off and on) for many years. I have a reasonable grasp of music theory- understanding chords and scale construction, arpeggios, and can read music . I have experimented with numerous musical styles (classical, blues, fingerstye, jazz, bluegrass, country) . I am actually a fairly decent rhythm guitarist in most musical styles (not much demand for this except in Django gyspy jazz which I love but can't really find anyone locally to hookup with). I can play some lead, I have decent technique with lead work but the reality is I just don't have the creativity or the 'ear' to excel at this in jazz and be in the spotlight (I'm no Wes or Django). I have also played some violin (for about 4 years), some electric bass, and a couple of years of piano, and a little mandolin and drums.

    Lately I have been considering seriously studying the bass. I have become increasingly frustrasted with the guitar and don't believe I can pull off playing that in a jazz group (except for the rhythm part again).With the bass, I believe I could learn enough to be able to play jazz gigs within a few years. But that would only be with the electric bass (I think I could handle the fretless) and jazz primarily uses the upright bass.

    So, do I take on this challenge of learning the upright? And a challenge it would be since I have some degree of tendonitis in my left hand. I was thinking of renting an instrument and taking a few lessons to test the waters and see if I could really make the transition after all these years, plus I really wonder about that tendonitis.

    I am confident I could really learn to play jazz on the electric bass (with or without frets) and work around that hand pain but I really would love to be able to play the upright (I have always preferred acoustic instruments anyway).

    One sidenote: I am only 5ft 6 inches tall and wonder about physically playing that beast.

    Anyway that is the story. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Link


    Jul 6, 2002
    Latrobe, PA
    - i don't know if i have in "say" in this exactly, but... my .02 [okay so it's prob. only .01 at most...]

    -is there any other reason to taking up the upright other than to "assure" a spot in a jazz group? -with the instruments i' play, nailing a position is not the only reason i play them- if it's even a reason at all... from what i've seen it appears that if the individual has several reasons to take up an instrument- they stick with it and put a lot effort into learning it... [but hey it's not written in stone...]
    - i would imagine renting would be good- especailly if you are not entirely sure what you are up against or what you want to do...

    - my bass is a 3/4... stands over 6' ... i'm only 5'2"...
    eh... :meh: hope i didn't really get anything wrong... or completely contradict someone's view/opinion but... yeah...
  3. Nick Ara

    Nick Ara

    Jul 22, 2002
    Long Island, NY
    Chuck1155, I say Go for It!

    I started playing URB less than 2 years ago after playing plank for a number of years. Like you, I have a decent knowledge of music fundamentals.

    Living and working in the NYC area, it was easy for me to see live jazz combos, for free, at the numerous office parks scattered around Manhattan. I spent many lunch hours doing that and loved every minute of it. It didn't take long until I bought my first upright, had it set up properly (thanks, Jeff!), and took it to a local bues jam where I figured I might hook up with a keyboard or sax player. Within a month I was in a jazz group playing standards at private parties, banquets, holiday dinners and small clubs. While I'm definitely not a "first call" bassist (ok, maybe 6th call?), I do work a lot and love every minute of it.

    My suggestion: find an open mike session or blues jam near you and bring down your bass. There's probably somebody in the crowd who's looking for a bassist to jam some jazz tunes with. Next, get a Real Book and do your homework on those standards. Of course, lessons are a must if you really want to do it all correctly.

    By the way, I'm 51, and stand a towering 5' 4'' (on a good day) with the stubbiest fingers you've ever seen. No problem! ;)
  4. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    I'm worried about your tendonitis. Rental basses are usually horribly set-up, with stiff, high strings and badly graduated fingerboards. I'd like to see you save your sheckels for a fairly decent bass, then have it set-up professionally to play silky-smooth with some light strings for now. I'd start with Thomastic Spirocore Solo gauge, tuned to standard (concert) pitch. If you can't swing a purchase, see if a rental merchant can do a reasonably good set-up job for you, or see if you can have a buy option, then take it to a good luthier. Perhaps you could pay it off through rental fees. I'd just hate to see you get hurt or turned off playing a monster. The bass is difficult enough without fighting a bad set-up.