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Never played DB before!

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by APouncer, May 17, 2001.


  1. APouncer

    APouncer

    Nov 3, 2000
    Lancashire, UK
    I have played guitar for 6 yrs, fretted bass guitar for 4, and fretless bass guitar for 1 year. My cousin has just had a baby and is gonna lend me his dbl bass in 3 days - HHHOOOORRRAHH!!!!!! - I've always wanted one but couldn't afford it! Thing is, I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT IT! So, how do I tune it? How do I hold it? How can I amplify it? If I'm right handed is the lowest note closest to my body? What position are my arms in? Where do I pluck the strings (forget bowing for the mo)? And any answers to questions that you think I'll be asking please? Also, I'm a fairly competent bass player, do a little session work, played with a lot of bands etc, how long until I can play gigs - I will do an hours practice a day, which means losing some time on the BG, so how soon will I see (hear) results? Thanks guys, and I'm glad to be on this side of the forum now, a leg on each side of the fence! ! !
     
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Same as a bass guitar, E A D G low to high.

    Stand with legs slightly apart, rest the back of the bass on your left knee, angle the instrument slightly so that if you let go of the neck it doesn't fall over. Adjust the endpin so that the nut is about forehead level.

    You can get two types of pickups: magnetic pickups, which work like your bass guitar pickups and mount ot the end of the fingerboard and more common piezoelectric pickups that mount to the bridge and pick up the vibrations of the instrument. See Bob Gollihur's site (http://www.gollihur.com) for links to various pickup suppliers (Bob himself is one).

    Put your right thumb on the edge of the fingerboard, near the end. Hold your wrist so that the angle of your index and middle fingers to the strings is about 45 degrees (as opposed to 90 degrees like playing bass guitar). Use the tip and side of the finger to get more "meat" on the strings. Your right forearm and left upper arm should be more or less parallel to the floor. Use a "3 fret" stretch on he neck, using index, middle and ring plus pinky (together) to finger notes on the neck. Arch your fingers more than you would on a bass guitar, keep the left thumb centered on the back of the neck. Once you get to the octave (12th fret position) you use what is called "thumb position" fingering, use your left thumb to bar across the strings, then use index, middle and ring (NO pinky) to finger notes above the octave.

    Don't overlook bowing as it actually helps with getting your intonation together. Weak intonation is much more obvious when bowing so it's good to practice scales and arpeggios with the bow to get your left hand into shape.
     
  3. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    AL/GA
    Brian, that was the most in-depth description of beginning form on double bass I've yet seen on the 'Net. Wish I'd seen that in the month between the time I took delivery of my DB and my first lesson.... My teacher told me all of the things you mentioned above, except she's having me put lots of time into playing with my thumb off the back of the neck so that I have to use arm weight to bring the strings to the board. She actually wanted me to tape my thumb down, but my hands just won't seem to work that way. Instead, I just kind of keep my thumb hanging out there without touching the back of the neck. I can tell a huge difference in my endurance that way.
     
  4. Get a good teacher - you won't regret it...

    - Wil
     
  5. DITTO!
     
  6. This is the first I've ever heard of this; while seated sure (though when I do sit I try to avoid it), but standing, no.
     
  7. Can you do this while standing?
    This seems to be one of the problems I am having, I am going through the lessons my teacher has showed me and he is always tells me to make sure that my left hand is relaxed but I am having a hard time feeling the weight of my arm vs. the grip of my thumb. Any input on this?
     
  8. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    AL/GA
    Yeah, Gruff, I'm having a pretty hard time of it too. Seems to me that while standing, it's not so much weight of the arm as kind of "pulling from the shoulder". I've asked my teacher on 2 separate occasions if I was working at this correctly and she told me it should feel awkward at first and will get easier with practice. Still can't help the feeling that I'm doing something wrong, but who am I to question the instructor? One thing is for sure....if I slip up and start to apply pressure with the thumb, I can tell IMMEDIATELY that this is something I shouldn't do...my hand cramps and goes to sleep!
     
  9. Thanks mchildree and thanks to the other gent that also talked about this in another thread I posted. I tried this a little about 2 weeks ago and really didn't see the reason for it but I put my DB in its stand and practiced without my thumb and can feel what I should be doing. In a couple of hours of doing it without the thumb I can put my thumb at the back of the neck and feel not as much pressure on it. Sounds like your lessons must be going well too.
    Good Luck
     
  10. APouncer

    APouncer

    Nov 3, 2000
    Lancashire, UK
    Thanks guys, all great help, I get the bass next week. Do I use 2 fingers on my right hand? A walking style like the EB?
     
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    To get a strong jazz pizz sound, the idea is to get as much meat on the string as you can when you pluck. For walking lines, two combinations are common:
    1) index finger alone; or
    2) a combination of index and middle fingers.

    DB pizz technique is very unlike BG RH technique. On the BG, players can use both free strokes and rest strokes. On the DB, only rest strokes will really get that big, fat sound that everybody seems to be after. To begin, start with your right thumb on the edge of the fingerboard near the end . Angle your hand so that you can see all four knuckles and try to lay the outside edge (thumbside edge) of your index finger along the first string in such a way that at least half of the length of the finger is touching the string. Pull the string back toward the next string until it releases, and then let your index finger rest on the next string.

    Oh, and getting a teacher would be a good idea. If you search the archives, you'll find a lot of great stories about how people trying to teach themselves end up injuring themselves and picking up a lot of bad habits.

    Good luck.