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New Player Needs Help!

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Bloodmole Bob, Apr 3, 2005.

  1. Bloodmole Bob

    Bloodmole Bob

    Apr 3, 2005
    Hi. I've been playing electric bass for over twenty five years and just recently purchased a double bass. I'm having some problems with some fundamentals. First: Tuning. The three tuners that I own and have used on my electric will ot even register with the double bass. I guess the sounds are two low. From what I've read, one can seriously damage a double bass by tuning too high. However, after tuning by ear, it seems much too low. Are there any online samples of double bass sounds that I can use to tune with? Second: Bowing. As a complete novice to bowing, I'm lost. Drawing the bow across the strings creates absolutely no sound. Do I need rosin to creat a sound or am I just doing it wrong. Anyone's help would be appreciated.
  2. a. meyer

    a. meyer

    Dec 10, 2004
    portland, oregon
    Yes, you need rosin. The hair produces no sound, as you have discovered.
    Tuning: if you have a metronome, you can use the "A" to tune the fourth harmonic on the A string (it's at the fifth "fret", D on the A string), then tune the other strings to that. If it still sounds too low, it may be because the double bass produces more fundamental than the bass guitar, and you're not used to hearing that.
    Or you could find a teacher...bowing's a bitch to figure out on your own.
  3. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Are there any upright bass players in your area? Ask around and find out who teaches. Getting some master-class type lessons with an upright bass teacher will really pay off in the long run. Left hand fingering and bowing are important basics to learn. There are some dvds/videos available, but one-on-one is the ideal way.
  4. Tune up one of your electrics then connect it to your amp and put it on a stand. You can pluck the electric's open strings and tune your double bass to them. You won't get the DB in perfect tune this way, but you'll be in the ballpark.
  5. The problem with many electronic tuners is that you have to be sort of in the ball park before they are really useful. And few of them are designed specifically for bass. The Korg GA-30 is an inexpensive one that also emits real sound tones as well as has a reading screen. It has a button that toggles between bass and guitar settings, but even it will give some false info if you are way off from the target. If you use the auditory setting to tune a bass you will be tuning to a pitch an octave above so you would need to be able to hear that and perhaps use the 1/2 string harmonic instead of the open string fundamental. If you can get to an 88 key piano, I have found this to be the best auditory reference, because the strings in a piano are long and fat like those on a bass and the overtones are more similar. Even a good electric piano set on one of the acoustic piano settings works well as long as it has 88 keys. The corresponding notes are white keys and they are the 12th white key (from the lowest note up) for the E string, the 15th for the A, 18th for the D, and 21st for the G. If your bass guitar is in tune, Doug Ring's method will also get you close.

    That being said, it is great to be able to tune by ear when conditions allow it. The best way to learn to do that is with someone showing you who already knows how.

    As far as the bowing thing goes, you need rosin, yes, but mostly you need a good teacher. There are two different types of bows for doublebass, french and german. One will be better for you than the other, but you need a teacher to learn to use either one of them correctly. I played bass guitar for more than 25 years before I got my first DB. I realized really quickly that I needed a teacher. There was just too much new information to digest alone. Chances are if you proceed on your own for very long you will develop some bad habits, make deleterious changes to your instrument, or even worse, hurt yourself.

    We can help you some on a forum like this, but this instrument should be sold with at least one warning: "Teacher necessary, but not included". The better places that sell them usually do offer lessons as well. Good luck and congratulations on your move to the DB. With patience and perseverence you will reap the rewards it offers. :)
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Bloodmobile Bob,

    If you'll fill in your profile, people may be able to help you by recommending DB resources (teachers, luthiers, etc.) in your general area.