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New jazz bass video tutorial series

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Just a quick note to introduce the first video in a new series I'll doing on youtube over the next couple of years. This first one is very basic, covering basic right hand tone production for jazz bass, but later videos will cover more intermediate and advanced topics. Some topics in the planning stage:
    - Subdivisions of the basic right arm downstroke
    - Using arm weight to produce good left hand stops
    - Shell voicings for jazz bass
    - Basic walking techniques
    - Tune learning method
    - Rakes, drops, and "diggetybooms"

    I welcome all constructive comments, and also potential topics for later installments of the series.

    Acoop, vin*tone, mrbaloo and 8 others like this.
  2. JGoldberg


    Jul 10, 2011
    Westchester, NY
    Thanks chris,
    That was really helpful in a big way. I'm hoping that if I work on that wrist movement I wont get yelled at for sounding too stiff.

    Looking forward to more.

    P.S. I like your bass
  3. geoffbassist

    geoffbassist UK Double Bassist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 17, 2006
    Founder - Discover Double Bass
    Great job Chris. Really well explained.
  4. Very helpful Chris. Thank you.
  5. ghiadub

    ghiadub Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2006
    Auburn, CA
    Great job Chris. Is your bass that loud or are you mixing the in the signal from your pickup?
  6. Subbed/here to learn :)
  7. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    i hope a lot of young players take advantage of these simple but easy to overlook ergonomics

    due to right hand abuse I cannot play DB pizz much anymore

    keep it up!
  8. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    I would think the former.

    Great video Chris! It's really good to see such clearly explained stuff on the meat and potatoes of playing.
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Thanks, guys, and good question: the bass is acoustic in the video. While the bass is kind of a cannon, I also believe that this concept of drawing tone with arm weight and lots of meat on the string is designed to get a big sound with minimal effort, which is why I think it should be the "meat and potatoes" in the middle of any aspiring jazz bassist's technique plate.
    RobTheRiot and Leo Smith like this.
  10. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    Thanks, Chris. Vey helpful demonstration of some of what you've been sharing here for a while.

    You have a very relaxed (and relaxing) demeanour in front of the camera, and it's a nicely produced video -- plans for a DVD? It should do well if you have such ambitions.

    Cheers :).
  11. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    Bingo. Hence when one says "that cat pulls such a huge sound!" when speaking of a bassist whose unamped acoustic sound is enough to fill a decent sized room/cut through/etc. Has every bit as much (if not more, kind of) to do with the player as it does with the instrument.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  12. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Great video DURRL. I want to say too that this stuff doesn't just end here. With tidbits from your prior posts, I've been using the chicken wing/arm drop to change the timbre of my notes. Done in a rhythmic pattern, it can add some nice variety to the groove and give it another dimension. Varying between dropping on each note, every other note, or just on 1.

    I've been also playing around with softening the finger on the pull. Also adds more textural variety. I can get a nice smooth tone or hard and snappy depending on how rigid I keep the fingers.

    BTW: at some point you should talk about where to pull on the string. Again, more tonal differences depending on what you want to hear.
  13. tomshepp


    Jan 11, 2006
    Maynard MA
    Very helpful. Well done!
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    This sort of thing is the subject of the next video. There's a ton of ground to cover there.

    Can you describe more about this? I think I know what you mean, but am not sure. If I'm understanding correctly, you're talking about relaxing the downward pressure on the string so that the hand and arm make the same basic motion, but because of the relaxed finger the finger is allowed to be dragged across the string rather than the string being dragged under the finger - less contact with the board, in other words.

    If so, then yes, this is an important parameter of "softening" the sound, and falls more into the description or "range of articulation". One of the things I've learned from watching Ray and Christian and listening to Sam Jones and Drew Gress (and also from hearing Ed and Paul and Marco and others here who talk about these sorts of things) is that great players have a huge range of articulation, and that articulation range is - perhaps obviously, although it took me a minute to get the idea - defined by its outer parameters. In other words, in order to have a huge articulation/dynamic range your "loud-and-punchy" has to be really powerful and your whisper-tone really almost inaudible, even to the point where you don't use the extremes all that much except where the music calls for them; still, they have to be there as a sort of "headroom" on either end of the spectrum.

    With a lot of young players, I don't hear this kind of range on either end, but especially on the loud and punchy side. One of the stages I like to watch all of my students go through over a period of several years is the journey to developing an obnoxiously loud-and-almost-unmusical string pull, one that weighs in just under what the bass and setup can handle before the string bottoms out. I've had a handful of great young students over the past decade who have worked to develop this sound, then had to learn to tone it down when they recognize that playing this way is the musical equivalent of YELLING ALL THE TIME NO MATTER WHAT'S GOING ON. You want to have the chops to do it, but only when needed. And as with a good amp, having that headroom is where it's at: you know you could play a lot louder and have it still be clean, but you save it for where it's needed. But if you didn't have it, there would be nothing to save, and you'd always be struggling to be heard and wear yourself out by playing at your threshold all the time.

    As an aside, I had a nice moment earlier this summer where I was eating dinner with my wife in a really loud restaurant where an old student who graduated many years ago was playing in a trio with piano and sax. We were across the room from the band, and the people were so loud that you could only just barely hear the band. In spite of all of this, the bass was the most present sound from the band I heard. When I went over to say hi, I saw that she was playing unamplified (and on my old LaScala ply, no less). It was one of those "proud papa" moments. :)

    Absolutely. I think a lot of that takes care of itself naturally just by listening to what the music wants, but it's all part of the equation we were discussing above. Closer to the bridge equals more tension, which equals more snap when the string is released from the board. Another facet of this which I didn't go into in the video for length reasons is the idea of velocity of the stroke and the whip motion that comes into play, but if I make enough of these things, maybe that can be covered later.

    GROWLER - no plans for a DVD just yet. I'm really just trying to create a resource for younger players that I can refer them to on topics that I always cover in lessons and learn some Final Cut Pro X chops in the process. That's an amazing program!
    Treyzer likes this.
  15. Silevesq


    Oct 2, 2010
    Now you are making me consider Louisville U.
    Keep up the good work!
  16. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    You don't sound like a hillwilliam DURLL. Nice intro video. I like how you present a few different options for playing the E string. I've heard that explained a few different ways and teachers can often get very dogmatic and rigid.

    I think relaxation is absolutely key on any instrument as you show in the video. It effects tone production, feel, time, your ability to execute stuff, and your overall comfortability at the instrument.

    Good stuff.
  17. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Hrm... had to think about it and wrote that last night when I couldn't touch the bass because it was too late. I think it's just simplly changing up the attack without having to move my hand. I think of it as simply relaxing the first knuckle. The technique is identical, same as you displayed in the video, - lots of finger meat for fatness. Putting a little bit of tension in the first knuckle gets more attack while a relaxed knuckle gets a more rounder sound. Playing with more attack does sound like you're talking at the top of your voice all the time.

    I think this is nice because if you play in a tune that does something like going from ballad to double time, you might want to deliver that attack during the uptempo sections and go back to playing soft at slow tempos. It's just articulation but it's nice because everything doesn't need to change and you can do with the small muscles in the finger. If I want brighter and more attack all the time then I'll slide my hand further down to pluck closer to the bridge.

    BTW: I've changed up my attitude about string heights. I'm thinking of the string more where I just want more tonal pallette. I'll base the string heights upon where playing past the fingerboard still yields a "usable" sound. If it's not usable and too pingy or too much tension to play, I'll keep lowering the strings til it is. If I want lots of attack, string response, and speed I'll play at that spot.
  18. Well done Chris. Great video. It's very well presented.

    Happy Father's Day,

  19. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    Good for you, man! That's above and beyond, especially given the quality of the production (not to mention the instruction). And thanks again for making it (and future episodes) available to the huddled masses.
  20. Thanks for this Chris. This is excellent.

    I'd love to see you do a video on playing uptempo tunes. I've read posts from you about playing up before and it seems like you have a lot of great ideas about how to approach both support and solo roles.
    matthewbrown likes this.

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