Newbie G string trouble

Discussion in 'Bows and Rosin [DB]' started by Slapstyle, Apr 29, 2012.

  1. Slapstyle


    Dec 3, 2009
    I got my first upright a couple weeks ago and my experience with EB is making the pizz stuff a bit quicker and easier for me, but when diving into the arco, I'm having trouble. It's coming along slowly. At first, every noise I made was horrendous. Now I can get a fairly consistent sound, doing open string whole notes at 40bpm on the E, A, and D strings, but the G string always seems to come out shrieky and inconsistent, with skips and stuttering as well. If I speed up to quarter or eighth notes at the same tempo it's quite a bit better, but still inconsistant. So, what's going on? I'm not expecting miracles. The whole thing is new to me and I know I'm not great at it yet, but I want to get past this shriek and squawk stuff and start making music. I'm putting in as much practice time as I can with 2 young kids in the house. At least a half hour a day, usually more like an hour.

    Bass is a new Shen SB80. Bow is a cheap fiberglass bow, white hair, also new. Rosin is Pops. Strings are helicore hybrids.

    Technique? Bad bow? More Rosin? Less Rosin? All of the above?

    Thanks guys!
  2. rake


    May 4, 2004
    My first suggestion would be find a good teacher if you haven't done so already. It will save you years of grief, not having to unlearn bad habits.

    Second to that would be, use less weight and more bow speed as well as more hair.
    This series of videos featuring Francois Rabbath are highly informative.
    Fran├žois Rabbath at HfM Berlin - 1 - YouTube

    I like to watch videos of the masters and sing along with what they are playing while I move arm as they do. Not sure it does me much good, but we all gotta have hobbies :meh:
  3. Slapstyle


    Dec 3, 2009
    Definitely have a great teacher. Only one hour a week with him and 167 hours without him, sooo..... Here I am, till I meet with him next Friday, soliciting advice.
  4. rake


    May 4, 2004
    Do you practice in front of a mirror?
  5. rake


    May 4, 2004
    by the way, if your teacher is anything like the ones I've had, he would probably be okay with you calling to ask him. You could talk with him, bow in hand.

    Best of luck - the bow is a torturous and wonderful mistress
  6. well I dont play bass but I played cello for 10 years. Pay attention to your arco hand/elbow/shoulder and the angle that you create between the bow and the string. It should be around 90 degrees looking at the string from in front of you.
    Also pay attention to the distance between your bow's contact with the string and the bridge. It sounds like you might be too close to the bridge, but try some different distances.
    Try some more rosin too, too much is never enough haha. seriously though it would be a good idea to over rosin when using a new set of strings. They need to get worn in as far as grip.
    Play around with the pressure that you apply to the string, and how flat your bow hair is on the string, (flat=more contact)
    lastly, make sure that left hand is putting enough pressure. It sounds odd but the upright is less forgiving, and the left hand is one of the most important parts of playing.
  7. Slapstyle


    Dec 3, 2009
    Actually I'm playing just below the end of the fingerboard, but it gets warmer, on the G string only, as I get closer to the bridge. The other strings get more scratchy and crunchy in that area.

    I'm not yet using a mirror but plan to put one in my practice space to make sure I keep my tip up, as my instructor had to get on me a couple times about that.

    I know I'm a noob, but does it seem weird to anyone that it's only the G string that's giving me trouble?
  8. urbwes


    Apr 30, 2012
    Violin teachers put it this way:
    Bow tone is made from W.A.S.P.
    Weight- not enough weight and the tone is weak, too much and the sound is scratchy and stifled
    Angle - the hair should completely be touching the string on the bass (violins angle the stick a bit towards the fingerboard)
    Also, the bow should be at a 90 degree angle to the string.
    Speed - too slow and the tone is weak or stops, too fast and the sound is airy.
    Placement - playing closer to the fingerboard results in a mushy tone playing closer to the bridge results in a brighter tone (too much of either is a bad thing and I would suggest a halfway approach as a beginner).

    Hopefully this helps. If you have done all of this, don;t forget to listen to pro bassists to know what your end "tone goal" might be. and try playing in different rooms. In college, I played in a practice room where everything sounded horrible. I moved rooms and playing was much more enjoyable.

    Above all, don't give up. It takes a lot of time to create a good bow sound. I've been playing for 8 years and I'm still working on tone (always will).

    ..One more thing. Are you playing closer to the frog with plenty of rosin. I've found a good, basic bass tone is easiest near the frog with lots of rosin.. :)
  9. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    It is most likely technique. I would have your teacher or a more experienced player give it a whirl. I had a scratchy G string and it was the string. I switched from Evah to Oliv. Problem solved. Now when it sounds bad it is just me :)
  10. Maybe you have a wolf tone on the g. Ask your teacher to play on your bass and see what he or she thinks. It could be a lot of things (technique, equipment, rosin, etc) and is most likely a combination of these, but if you have a wolfy g any adjustment to your technique will probably not help much. It's a pretty normal problem to have, and can usually be minimized with a slight soundpost tweak or a wolf eliminator on the afterlength in more extreme cases.

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