1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Notes lower than low E

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by JAS, Feb 5, 2006.

  1. JAS


    Jul 3, 2001
    When there are bass parts writen with notes that are intended for either a bass with an extention or a lower string,

    should I just play those notes up the octave, or should I bring the whole line up the octave?
  2. Charles Shores

    Charles Shores Commercial User

    Jul 26, 2005
    Depending on whether the smoothness of the line is compromised by the changing of the octave of one or two notes, you might be able to get away with it, otherwise, try playing the whole phrase up.

  3. So long as you're playing something, people probably won't notice. This is especially true if there's an extension in your section.

    Use your own discretion, I guess. If you aren't sure, ask your section leader or conductor.
  4. TomGale


    Jul 31, 2005
    American School of Double Bass
    Another option that is useful is lowering the E to D. The fingerings are easy because they just mirror the upper D string and does pick up those low D's and Eb's that are so important.
    If it goes lower than that. I swap the E string for a C but it does get kind of involved then if you decide to use a C,A,D,G tuning or a C,G,D,G tuning. I've used all three alternate tunings and find the low D to be the easiest to handle.
    Tom Gale
  5. JAS


    Jul 3, 2001
    O.K. Thanks,
    for now I think I am going to just play the few notes up the octave. I will ask the section leader at the reahearsal what he is doing.
  6. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
    My understanding (and experience) is that if you use any of these uneven scodatura tunings it will throw the instrument out of balance and make tuning a serious issue.
  7. TomGale


    Jul 31, 2005
    American School of Double Bass
    My experience is that the D tuning improves the sound because it follows the overtone series better than tuning in fourths. Some top players have gone to all 5ths - C G D A but I have don't have those guts....
    Tom Gale
  8. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    whether the tuning improves the instrument or throws it out of balance depends on how stable/flexible the neck of the instrument is. In some instruments this will cause the whole bass to be out of tune with the neck slightly warping towards the g string due to the uneven pull. Some instruments are so stiff that this isn't really an issue.
    The kind(s) of strings that you use will also play a major role.

    Just experiment.
  9. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    This is an interesting thread. I used to have a bass with a great English extension. It's great for playing the low notes. After not playing for a while, I got a newer bass without an extension. I really missed being able to play the full range that is required for professional work.

    Since I was playing lots of Baroque stuff with my church string ensemble there were many low D's required (violones being used back in "the good ole days" and all). So, I started using a low D tuning.

    After about a year of changing from E to D where needed, I just decided to stay with the low D tuning. It took me about this long to be really comfortable and confident playing on the lower D string.

    The Pro's are: 1) the sound of the bass improved as there was less pressure on the top and there was a nice D-A-D harmonic series which the bass seems to like; 2) I've found that most lower-than-E notes are either Eb or D anyway so they are readily available without the noise of a machine; 3) I already know where the notes are because there already is a D-string; 4) you don't have to buy another string; 5) you don't have people asking why there is a piccolo attached to your scroll.

    The Con's are: 1) I find I had to refinger my basic "money-notes" range so now I play in 2nd and 3rd position most often now rather than 1/2 and 1st position; 2) going from Bb to Ab is quite a leap; 3) since the string is tuned down a tone, the tension is a bit floppy and is different from the other strings (I'm using Obligatos, which is an excellent string BTW, perhaps someone could suggest a little stiffer E-string); 4) I have to think more when I'm playng, I've slammed down on a low F instead of a low G a few times because I was sightreading and was a bit tired; 5) I've had to relearn all those orchestral excepts I've played for eons.

    Over the Christmas break I had the luthier who build the bass put on a half extension to reach the low C. It is a finger-style extension. The rosewood fingerboard goes all the way up to the scroll for support but the string extends only about 2.5 inches above the nut. There there is a small ebony nut and a hole drilled through the fingerboard to go to the old A tuner (the A-string now tunes from the old E tuner).

    There is no little wheel needed as the string (which is still a regular E-string) doesn't even bend 90 degrees. There is a small rosewood capo to close the string at the nut which is the low D. So, the only note I have to finger is a low C#. I'll post a picture when I get it in my computer.

    I've found I can really whip around the lower-than-E notes with this arrangement and it didn't cost mega $ either. It is also silent to operate. If I had thought of it then I would have had the string go down to a low B and had a capo for the low C for that rare opportunity to play one.
  10. Y'know, you might just be better off getting a 5-stringer!

    I love my 5-stringer, especially after seeing the gyrations and tribulations extension users have to go through to play low scales. So much more natural to go 5-stringer.

    As far as finding a stiffer low string, try Pirastro "Permanent". For "drop-D" tuning, you might even be able to use a Thomastic Spirocore "E" string.