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On the bass stanze and LH pain relief

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Nivaca, Jun 22, 2005.

  1. Nivaca


    Jan 8, 2005
    I've been reading some interesting threads on LH position, and have found some advice regarding the avoidance of using the thumb as a clamp; rather, all the main force should be done by the "long muscles of the arm". In fact, they recommend an exercise consisting in pressing the strings without the support of the thumb.
    Well, I tried it and like the idea. The problem I'm having is this: I have, through hard work, accustomed myself to play standing (I became once a stool-addict, buy now that's all behind...); when standing I can't balance the bass in order that the pressing force comes from the arm and not the thumb. This I can do sitting on a stool, where I can block the movement of the bass. But --as I already said-- when standing there's no way for me to balance the bass AND avoid using the thumb.

    I got around that predicament with an "unlawful" proceedure (which I expect to be signaled as such by you, kind readers :bag: ): if I use my RIGHT hand thumb under the fingerboard (as I have seen on many fine players) while pizzing as a support, I can balance the bass thus: I pull both from this RH thumb and the LH fingers.

    Please advice me on this topic!!!
  2. Nivaca, i'm having a problem visualizing what you're saying.
    Could you post a picture or two pointing out what's up?
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    If you let go of the bass with your left hand, it should be anywhere from balanced perfectly to falling forward. Once you have this (it should only take a few seconds to find the spot and then a few days to get used to it), the rest will be much easier.

    Using the stool for practice for a bit would be a good way to practice getting the feel in your left hand.
  4. I see, by the way Ray answered your question, what you were asking now.
    Sometimes Ray just follows me around and does this......we're kinda like a team...huh, Ray? Ray? hey Ray......
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Like the wallpaper sticks to the wall
    Like the seashore clings to the sea
  6. spaghettiwestern

    spaghettiwestern Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Greater Boston Area
    i'm a big fan of this "long muscle"/arm weight technique. i used to practice just standing with the bass for a while: knees slightly bent, center of gravity lowered. i find there's kind of a pocket on the left side of my hip that the bass wants to sit in. eventually i could get the bass to balance without using my hands. think of it as a yoga pose or a tai chi stance. there's something very meditative and centering about it, which frees up your arms and your mind for playing.

    also, if you have a larger bass, you can get the left knee against the back of the lower bout to help steady it a little.

    on the LH, i've heard of a teacher taping a strip of paper on the back of the neck (anchored only at the nut and the heel). he tells the students they have to learn to shift hand positions without tearing the paper. this might be Ed Barker from the BSO, but i'm not sure. i've never actually tried this, but the concept helps you think about just pressing with your fingers, not your thumb.

    good luck.
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    You shouldn't stand in such a way that all of your weight is on one foot or the other, leaning the bass against your left knee. This is uncomfortable in the short term, and you'll end up with physical problems in the long run.

    You just find the spot where you can reach the bass comfortably and it falls forward when you let go. You might have to mess around with the pin height to find this spot.
  8. Savino


    Jun 2, 2004
    or get an angled endpin :cool:
  9. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    It falls forwardish and to the right with the angled pin, doesn't it?
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I would add that all of this is much subject to change for you depending on how you are shaped and proportioned, how the bass is shaped, etc.

    The most important thing is that you are standing comfortably, as if at 'parade rest' (or whatever the military boys call it when you are in formation but not at 'attention'). From this ergonomic stance you should be able to comfortably reach the lowest position on the neck (where the notes are low) and be able to play the entire length of the bow without contorting your body in the least -- and the bass balances in your favor.

    For me, I'm a short dude with a gut and I'm playing a bass that has little slope to the shoulders and a pretty thick body. For me, the bass is less than 45 degrees and the swell of the shoulder hits me about midway on my rib cage.
  11. :D
  12. Nivaca


    Jan 8, 2005
    I post here a pic of mine. Hope this unravels my question.

    Attached Files:

  13. Very cool picture with the printing and all!
    I see your problem...Your bass has those real sloping shoulders and your body isn't coming into contact enough with the ribs to give you any sense of security, not only that, just not enough body in the bass to help your body block the bass as you say.
    I think you should bring your end-pin up to bring more of the basses body in contact with your body.
    Let us know if that helps.
  14. nice tash
  15. O.K., Mike ...i'll bite....tash?? Is that a Brit thing or what?
  16. Its what Ned Flanders has on his upper lip, and often used to disguise the fact that one isn't Bristish and one hasn't maintained a stiff one (upper lip of course). :D

    Nivaca should take none of these observations seriously unless endorsed by the likes of Ray and Paul and other TB great and good but since everyone's gone off-topic for a while and N does seem to be desereving of a little more:

    The right hand should be able to float freely no matter what the left hand is up to and certainly shouldn't be pushing the bass away from your body to counterbalance the LH pulling the bass inot the body. How could you use a bow - not that you need to use a bow - but it will severely hinder your mobility. It might not do too much for the fingerboard.

    You are leaning (at the shoulders) and IMHO its best to be vertical and shoulders level and feel 'centred' -evenly balanced.

    The thing stopping the bass moving backwards when you stop strings by pulling with your LH is contact with your body.

    If instead of spreading your feet angled apart (as ballet dancers do - toes further apart than heels) you had them parralel or more parrallel, (more like in yoga, tai chi etc - toes and heels the same distance apart) you will find this moves the knee round in such a way that it will support the bass without you standing on one leg (the usual one knee approach).

    Balancing the bass on its pin will do two things; raise the hieght and make it less prone to movement when you clobber the strings with either or both hands. I note the bass is leaning quite a lot to your right as you are standing.

    If you just use the left hand pulling against the strings and try to release the thumb in some positions the bass will start to twist and gentle application of the thumb will stop this and really can't be avoided but always to be strived for.

    Lots of jazz players play sucessfully and professionally in a variety of styles and sometimes complete lack of style and can be very bad examples. You yanks have seen some of our snoooker players trying to earn a buck playing pool. You wouldn't teach anyone to play like Alex Higgins but you might like Steve Davis - who is the most exciting player and more talented - yeah - Higgins - life's like that.

    Right, now the rest might pile in and correct this with proper advice. :bag: I'm off for the weekend!
  17. spaghettiwestern

    spaghettiwestern Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Greater Boston Area
    I agree with mike about the yoga stance thing. Looking at your picture, it seems like you're leaning forward quite a bit, almost as if you're reading music off the stand of the guy next to you.

    I'd say stand with your feet parallel and knees just barely bent. Lean back a little, as if you're sitting on the edge of a very high stool (don't forget to sit up straight!). If it's too much work for your legs, bend your knees a little less. This should be comfortable. Now bring the bass towards you so it leans against your hips, and try to find a good balance point. I find this stance frees up just about everything. Hope this helps!
  18. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    A good mind set to have is to have the bass conform to you rather than the other way around.

    Just from the picture, I would say raise the endpin and inch or even two and you'll probably be in pretty good shape. Your left arm looks good, you just have to get the bass up where you have that kind of arm position without bending over to get it. To get the bass to balance right you'll have to take a partial step forward in relation to the bass.

    I'd really have to see you playing in person to analyze what's happening properly, though.
  19. Nivaca


    Jan 8, 2005
    I thank you all for your *very kind* help. :smug:
    A final question: does the bass has to stand totally straight, i.e., perpendicular to the floor? Am I inclining it too much?
  20. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Re-read my last post.

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