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Newbie bower

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Gbassment, May 5, 2010.

  1. Gbassment


    May 5, 2010
    Hey everyone. New guy here!

    Some background..

    I've been playing the double bass since september 09 with focus on jazz, but since the winter holidays I've become more and more interested in playing some classical music, mostly for the sake of intonation.
    I ordered a finale bow (from stringemporium.com) and a book named De Haske's Double Bass Playtime. I was now ready to get started.

    Now here's the issue: I keep hitting harmonics when I'm bowing open strings. I don't really know what to do about it since I don't have a teacher to tell me what I'm doing wrong. I haven't practiced that much either, especially not consistently.

    Will this issue be solved by itself or do I need to change something? Since i probably do, some guidelines would be much appreciated!
    A teacher would be great, of course, but there are none in the area where I currently live.

    Sorry for my poor english. Hope this has been readable!
  2. Your English is readable enough... pretty good in fact.

    What is happening is called 'falsing'. It happens when you don't get enough grip right at the beginning of the note to get it started. That can simply be not enough rosin, or rosin that is too hard for the temperature where you are playing, but normally it's a technique issue. So, make sure you're rosined up first.

    Lots of practice is the cure... but it needs to be focussed practice, working with the variations of bow speed, weight, and position, till you find the combinations that work. The combination will vary depending on which string, what note you are playing, and how loud, and also on what sound you actually want.

    One thing to remember is that the bow speed doesn't have to be constant, curing falsing is a lot about how you start the note.

    Also, you really had better find a teacher soon... just holding the bow the wrong way can badly damage your hand, and it is almost impossible to describe in words the right way to do it. Let us know which sort of bow (French or German style) you have so we can try. In either case, it's not a grip, it's more that the bow rests in your hand quite loosely.
  3. Gbassment


    May 5, 2010
    Thats a relief, thank you :hyper:

    I use a french bow with a grip similiar to what this guy uses at 1:48
    And pops rosin.

    I don't really use my wrist that much while bowing. I've been trying, but I don't think I'm doing it right. Also, I'm "falsing" more when I bow from top to frog. Frog to top is so much easier for me.

    Right now I'm trying to contact a double bassist in a symphony orchestra two hours of driving from where I live. Maybe he can teach me a thing or two!
  4. Great, do try to see the symphony bassist... he undoubtedly can teach you something.

    Up bows (tip to frog) are indeed harder than down bows, at least to start with.

    So, I'm a German bow player, I can't advise you on French.
  5. mjt0229

    mjt0229 Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2007
    Bellingham, WA
    It's not necessary that you use a lot of wrist motion. If you're getting a lot of "false" sounds, watch that your bow motion is perpendicular to the string (play in front of a mirror, because it's hard to see this properly simply by looking down). Also, don't apply too much pressure, or too little (trial and error). Lastly, keep the point of contact roughly halfway between the fingerboard and the bridge. For higher notes, you can edge towards the bridge; for lower notes, you can be closer to the fingerboard. Again, you'll need to try it yourself. And your teacher will be able to show you.
  6. if your bow is straight and your bow hold is good, you can address the issue by adjusting your bow speed. this will also vary depending on your bow placement (closer to the bridge or closer to the fingerboard). you will have to use a slower, more nuanced attack as you move closer to the bridge. gary karr points out in his method book that playing open strings arco is in fact one of the more difficult techniques on the bass for a beginner to master. don't get discouraged! you should definitely try to find a teacher to help you with these things.
  7. also, if you put your location in your profile i'm sure someone here could point you to a teacher that could help!
  8. Gbassment


    May 5, 2010
    Thanks for the replies!

    Most of my arco excercises has been playing open strings with a metronome, playing whole notes, half notes, quarter notes on each string.
    I bow the whole notes with the entire bow, aswell as the half notes. When I play the quarter notes, I play them with each section of the bow, first the frog, then the middle, and the tip last.

    When I do these excercises at a higher tempo than I'm used to, the sound almost dissappears (don't know how to describe it), and I also hit some false sounds. Will definitely reduce the bow speed
  9. Goes all furry? That's way too much bow speed. Bass bows go pretty slow most of the time, so short fast notes only use a couple of centimeters of bow. A good exercise is to try and see how long a note you can get out of a single bow. You'll be surprised at just how long is possible.
  10. it's not just speed, i.e. how fast you're moving the bow. when things are working right, there will be resistance in the string preventing the bow from moving any faster than it should. try to find the resistance necessary to start each note with a clean attack and then follow through with an appropriate bow speed for the sound you want.

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