Notes past the G harmonic on G string! Help Please!

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by refinery, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. refinery


    Feb 14, 2005
    Hello, I have been playing the double bass for quite a while. I am in my high school orchestra, and our conductor has made a scale project for all of the students.

    I have to play one by the end of this week (last day Friday) for my teacher. I have decided to play the G major scale three octave, as I have played the ones that were two octave.

    My problem is that I do not know how to place my hand correctly or the fingering for notes past the G harmonic. We have never had notes higher than that area in our orchestral music, and I do not have a private teacher at all.

    I know how to play the G major scale two octave almost perfectly, but it's the third octave messing me up. I try to play it with random fingers, but I do not sound very well, and I feel very STUPID doing that.

    Does anyone have a description or pictures of how to do notes past the g harmonic? We never learned in high school, but I'll ask my conductor tomorrow.

    I just feel frustrated since I have a lot of other schoolwork to do also before progress report grades are due! :crying:

    EDIT: Everyone received papers with three octave scales on it. The basses reach up to the second octave, stop, then rejoin the orchestra when they go down the second one. I just don't understand, sorry to trouble you! :(
  2. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    If you've never played in thumb position, then an in tune, in time 3 octave G scale is probably a little out of your reach at the moment.

    To be honest, I'd reccomend starting with two octave Bb's, C's, and D major scales first, then to three octave E's and F's, THEN G.

    Also, a teacher would be of tremendous help to you.
  3. refinery


    Feb 14, 2005
    I can not afford a teacher at all! I live around Houston, and we have a teacher named Andrew Moritz. He has came to my middle school while I was in 8th grade, and he was very good.

    I heard he was expensive, and the trip to his house for private lessons is long. It is hard to fit my double bass in the car, and I don't even rent or have a bass! I use the school's double bass, which I believe isn't really good as there are many problems I can tell from it.

    It's just that I need to know just how to play notes past the G harmonic on the G string. As in hand position and where/how to place my fingers to play up to the next G past the harmonic (three octave G major).

    I know I should get a teacher, but I'm already losing my interest for the double bass. I have always loved it since I started, but it's just slowly diminishing. I can not do stuff the conductor wants me to do, and it's really just making me feel DUMB for playing at all. I feel degraded and I just want to get this year of orchestra over with. :crying:

    EDIT: If I play a B flat major scale without going down to the low E string, wouldn't it still be past the G harmonic? :( Maybe there is a book, so I may look at it or even buy it at the H&H near by.
  4. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    New Jersey
    Here's a demo:

    To reach the final D, E, F# and second G harmonic I typically shift from 3rd finger to the thumb on the D harmonic then 1-2-3 and back down with the same that prepares the left hand to get accustomed to the interval distances for the notes on that position. You could finger it differently though if your 3rd finger has difficulty stopping the note to get a clear pitch...experiment and have fun.

    Good luck! :bassist:

    PS I don't recommend collapsing the fingers and don't do that myself but many players do it and sound fine whatever
  5. refinery


    Feb 14, 2005
    Thanks JohnnyL! I'll try it out tomorrow and play my scale :) I've been experimenting for the way that looks the most "normal" and comfortable to play with. I also need to play the arpeggio which I have no trouble at all, and thirds, G to B, then A to C, then B to D and so on. I might have trouble with doing the thirds high on the G string. Thanks for your advice :smug:
  6. oliebrice


    Apr 7, 2003
    Hastings, UK
    It really is hard to imagine you being able to get a good thumb position technique without at least 1 lesson to get you on the way. Teachers are expensive, but a good lesson can give you huge amounts of help, and thumb position is a major part of double bass technique which you'd be unlikely to get right by chance, and very hard to describe qufficiently in writing.
  7. dbgal


    Nov 28, 2005
    Hey Refinery, don't give up! Thumb position is a major technical leap from the lower positions & takes a lot of getting used to. You might also experience (like I do) physical difficulties in actually reaching around the upper bout of the bass to get up towards the end of the fingerboard. Also, if your school bass is poorly set up, you'll have a really hard time pushing the strings down & getting a good tone. That said, you might take a look at the George Vance method books- here's a link to buy:

    Ask your teacher to buy them for you, since he seems to really be pushing you. If at all possible, try to find a teacher, even if it's only for one or two lessons to get you started on thumb position. Ask around at your local colleges & universities- often there's music students that can help you that might have lower rates.

    Back to your basic question that started this thread, I generally use the following fingering for a two-octave scale on the G string: open-1-4-1-4-1-3-thumb-1-2-1-3-thumb-1-2. It ain't pretty, but it works. As I mentioned, I have a really hard time reaching around the instrument so I tend to have my hand pointed down more than is advised. I also wind up with a bent wrist, which is generally bad- try to keep yours straight like in the video clip Johnny L sent.

    Hope this helps a little, & try not to get too discouraged. The DB is one of the most technically challenging instruments to play, but it is also the most versatile & downright fun to play! Besides, you'll never blend into the background! :)
  8. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    New Jersey
    +1 on the George Vance books those are the ones I learn from too they are the best IMO
  9. Justin K-ski

    Justin K-ski Supporting Member

    May 13, 2005

    And this guy is a university teacher?
  10. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    New Jersey
    Yes but it's a decent demo and will get refinery started.

    Plus you don't have to be the best player in the world to be the best teacher.

    Worse, some of the best players have their bag sewn up so tight they can't imagine anyone doing anything differently than them...even if it undermines the students' ability to grow as individual performers who could, if doing things differently, match or exceed that teacher's abilities in the future. Let me tell you learning from that kind of teacher sucks more than the worst demo you'll ever hear.

    I've gotten hammered for trying to impose my own impossibly high standards on others without permission the wheel of life is round my man K-ski that's your lesson for today and a valuable refresher lesson for me
  11. Justin K-ski

    Justin K-ski Supporting Member

    May 13, 2005
    point taken (trust me I know a thing or two about teachers who can be a little overbearing), but I think this is a little extreme. I think anyone who is putting a video on the internet for all to see and hopefully learn from should at least take the time to get a decent take.

    Would you qualify things like basic intonation, hand position, steadyness of vibrato and tone as "impossibly high" standards? I like to think that I can play a D major scale in thumb position in tune 1 out of 5 times and I'm pretty sure Ellison, Hurst, Hal and Levinson could play twinkle twinkle up there 100 times without a sour note.

    All I'm saying is that it is not flattering for a PHD prof. to put out an "educational" video that does not showcase their best abilities. I don't know how helpful to study with a teacher that still has the problems I do.
  12. refinery


    Feb 14, 2005
    Wow! Thanks so much for your help. I'll play my scale tomorrow, it's kind of challenging, but I'm getting the hand of it! Or the fingerings. Thanks so much.
  13. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    New Jersey
    No they are de facto standards for me, but even our faults in performance and criticism of others K-ski will not stop the show from continuing on.

  14. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    One of the fingerings from Simandl Book 2:

    Starting with thumb on G in thumb position:
    T,1,2 1,2 1,2,3

    Yes, that's right. In the Simandl method the two octave Bb major scale requires you to go in to thumb position. The highest note you can play on the G string without going in to TP would be the A natural with the 3rd finger. Since the low E is the lowest note you can play on the bass (typically) and the A natural is the highest without going in to TP, Bb, B, C, Db, D and Eb two octave major scales will all require you go in to TP, while you can play E, F, Gb/F#, G and A two octave major scales without going in to TP.

    If you don't have the dough right now check the libraries or whatever but you should try to get a hold of Simandl 1 & 2. Vol 1 is geared towards orchestral playing and Vol 2 is towards solo playing and is where the TP is introduced. It's really a great (and old) system but a lot of thought has been put in to presenting the material in a logical order of difficulty, although there's a very valid school of thought that TP should be presented from the beginning. There are also lot's of fingering alternatives (check out Ray Parker's from this forum) but Simandl is a pretty good place to start and may suit all of your fingering needs and if not, you can venture in to other fingerings/systems.

    So now you know why those basses drop down and repeat an ocatave when everyone else goes to the third octave. :) They probably play the same octave on some of the two octave ones too! Judging by the Simandl method (and my own frustrated efforts), TP is arguably a more advanced area of DB study so don't get frustrated by that, man!

    If you really want to keep playing the bass (of course you do, you want to get girls, right?) you should go beg, borrow, steal, whatever, and go hook up with that Andrew Moritz cat for a private lesson. Just to make sure you're not doing anything physically that will cause injury and to put you down the right path.
  15. rob f johnson

    rob f johnson

    Nov 15, 2005
    nelson bc
    one thing that i practice that relley seems to help me. is sliding from (A) flat to octave, past harmonic (G) (A) flat than back down. than (A) natural keep going up cromatic paying attnetion to hand position. maby you will try this hope it helps.
  16. JayR


    Nov 9, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    you know, I always have played the last octave of that is T-1-2-3-T-1-2-3 and my teacher today just gave me the "*** are you doing?" face and informed me proper convention is T-1-2-3-1-2-1-2. Seems kinda unneccessary. thoughts?
  17. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    New Jersey
    The shift from 3 to T isn't so bad cause you can leverage the natural harmonic, but going down from T to 3 can be a real dice-roll cause it's a much bigger hand motion to do the shift...especially if you're doing a faster descending line on the same string you're gonna have more trouble than the 1 to 2 descent shift.

    I've been working on that shift for ages (o.k., several months LOL), and I can see your teacher's point. Plus he might want you to do it his way because it's wasted fingers to have your thumb on D you're not doing anything across the strings or some other rationale.

    When you compare for yourself which one gets you on pitch more often and makes for a cleaner shift sound-wise? I'll try too and see what happens.
  18. JayR


    Nov 9, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    I find it definitely most stable going up to use T-1-2-3, though going down does usually force me to take a split second to tune the decending C as I rarely do hit it dead on. However, with the 1-2-1-2 fingering, I found that I hear much more of a problem with audible shifts, even from my teacher. In actual performance, there are a few times where I think 1-2-1-2 is necessary, like in the 3rd mvt of the dragonetti in the first theme when it shoots up to the high G. I would always try and do that with T-1-2-3 and I could never get it at tempo and eventually gave up and used Sankey's fingerings there. I still chow that part once in a while anyway. Another observation I've made is that using 1-2-1-2 up there occasioanlly contributes to the collapse of my hand position which is something I've been working awful hard to get rid of, what with my wobbly little finger joints and all.
  19. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    New Jersey
    Yeah you're right that shifting has its own catalogue of sounds and vibes. Typically though the 1-2-1-2 fingering will have you shifting on the downbeats of a run and so that makes it more palatable. In fact, you may want that to empasize the pulse (maybe even the lyricism of the line also or in spite of the pulse). I remember working on the Bottesini Elegy and wanting to do the chromatic run 0-1-2-3-1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4-3 because I wanted the shifts to emphasize the downbeat...but doing it all 1-2-4 and shifting "polyrhythmically" is no crime really I don't have an answer just debatable convictions

    But I don't eat the 3rd mvmt. of the Dragonnetti for lunch yet I'm still working on and digging the D-drone intro for the 1st.

    When I was taking bass lessons man I'd work real hard on getting something right for my teacher I wanted to get the most for my money every time and feel like I was a badass...and I'd walk away more often than not completely infuriated because as soon as I did something he would make me stop and try to do it differently *LOL*

    Now I have a broader view and like to think it was because he was challenging me to be able to do anything I wanted on the bass whenever it came to mind and when I was ready to express something with the my own "voice" I would be able to....or maybe it was all just because what I was playing for him was crap and he was just trying to help me make it better in spite of myself I don't know.
  20. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    New Jersey
    Oh hey JR I was playing around with the 1-2-1-2 and it struck me that some people might not be able to do it T-1-2-3 because of the shoulder of the bass getting in the way.

    I could see that being a problem where 1-2-1-2 becomes way more practical...something else to think about.