Pivots Spanning a Major 3rd

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Dogfightgiggle, Jun 22, 2021.

  1. Dogfightgiggle


    Mar 4, 2020
    Let’s say you wanted to play a C-D-E run on the G string. Would any folks here employ a 1-2-4 pivot fingering or would you tend toward more of a traditional shift instead (likely 1-1-4)? Any thoughts on what Rabbath would do?
  2. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    lermgalieu, AGCurry and SteveBassJr like this.
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    It would depend on where the line was going from there.
    BobDeRosa, lermgalieu, Joshua and 3 others like this.
  4. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    I do whole steps 1-2-4 on my 30" BG, I would do 1-1-4 on DB.
  5. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    @Lynn Seaton has a few pages that he hands out to his "newbys" about pivoting: Many scales in several locations on the DB. He'll also tell you to learn ALL of the fingerings because in jazz, you never know which note you'll want to play next. That said, based on the miniscule bit of instruction I got from Lynn, and I'm completely open to having him say that I misunderstood, I'd - I, completely pivot C to E on the G-string---- IF, I don't need to relocate my thumb for the next series of pitches. Exactly as @Chris Fitzgerald said, it all depends on what comes next. I will say that once I learned to pivot, I pivot much more than not. If I was going to play a riff of D E F G, I'd shift to D, but if I intended to return to C or Bb, I'd keep my thumb comfortable for that C.
    The real telling is in YouTube videos. Frankly, ignore much of what successful bassists say - instead, watch what they did.
  6. One of the finest players I have ever seen is Alberto Bocini on Youtube playing Bottesini's Carnival of Venice with variations. For me his is a virtuoso demonstration of a fairly orthodox technique.

    I am happy to pivot a 1/2 tone up or down without risking injury to my thumb muscles. For your example I would use 1 - 1- 4.
  7. Dogfightgiggle


    Mar 4, 2020
    Thank you to those who responded and I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer in the original post.

    I’ve begun experimenting with 5ths tuning so a lot of things that I would have played across two strings I’m now playing on one string. My question about the larger major 3rd pivot span is more just, “Is it in your toolbox?”

    So far I find the 1-2-4 major third span useful for certain quick legato lines, but the intonation gets pretty squirrelly if overused.
  8. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    One of the first demonstrations Lynn showed me and the class I was in, was to place your index finger on F# on the E string, and grab G with your middle finger and G# with your pinky. Then, pivot back towards the scroll and grab F with your index finger, back to F#, and then pivot toward the bridge, placing your pinky on A. A Major 3rd, no problem. Everyone in the class could do it.
    DaveAceofBass and Lee Moses like this.
  9. Exactly. That one extra note is rarely enough to bother with a pivot. Shifting is nothing to fear. I am not really convinced that pivots are faster - they are certainly less stable. The older I get, the less I see the point in them.
    Wasnex and neilG like this.
  10. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    Hopefully this will clarify the pivot. "Home Base" is a whole step between 1 and 4. It is possible to pivot a 1/2 step towards the nut and pivot a 1/2 step towards the bridge and still be in the same position. The thumb has rotated, but not shifted.
    If one wanted to play C-D-E in one position on the G string, consider that "Home Base" would be 1 on C# and 4 on D#. Pivot a !/2 step toward the nut with 1 on C then pivot back to home for 2 on D then Pivot to 4 on E. Yes, you could use 1 on the D.
    Another fingering using two strings in one position would be : "Home Base" with 1 on D on the G string. The C is 4th finger on the D string with a 1/2 step pivot towards the bridge. Back to "Home Base" for D and E on the G string.
    I agree with the others that what follows may dictate different choices.
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  11. PaulCannon


    Jan 24, 2002
    Frankfurt, Germany
    NS Design Endorsing Artist
    One could do that, and it’s the kind of thing you might see in a pivot exercise. I certainly have practiced that at some point in my life. But I’m struggling to think of any musical context where it would be the optimal choice. Either you shift up the G string, pivot across D+G, or use a low thumb position across two strings.

    If it’s about 5th tuning, I think that system requires you to be very comfortable with shifting. You’ll need to embrace that, rather than avoiding it.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2021
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  12. Dogfightgiggle


    Mar 4, 2020
    Damon, never fear, mostly I’m using very traditional fingerings but at the same time I’m finding that exploring pivots both large and small is helping me gain more of a panoramic view of the finger board. Certainly could be a phase though.

    Lynn, building it from the center out is a great way to think of it, thank you for that.

    Paul, the 1-2-4 M3 pivot is something I’ve practiced for about a year without finding a practical application where I could definitively say it was the best solution. But in relearning my first piece in fifths I’ve come across something that really seems well suited to this fingering.

    I’ve tried to generalize the thread up to this point but maybe I’ll put the example up later. It’s definitely a fifths only type of challenge though.

    (P.S. I love shifting)
    Chris Fitzgerald and Lynn Seaton like this.
  13. garrett2

    garrett2 Supporting Member

    May 15, 2017
  14. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Mill Valley, CA
    I'm a hack and intonation is always my #1 bugaboo, so I would always go 1 1 4. I'll leave the fancy shifts and pivots to you guys who know what you're doing :)
  15. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    Intonation is always a challenge and priority for professionals too!
    jallenbass, LaFaro01, kwd and 4 others like this.
  16. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    I've been spending some time recently on these sorts of issues, as a very conventional Simandl-trained player. I have too say that so far I'm struggling to see any real benefit in pivots, if your shifting technique is up to scratch. If it isn't, chances are your pivots won't be either! If you're in 5ths tuning, I can see there may be more of a benefit, but at my age I don't see the benefit, and at any age I'd say learn to shift!
    LaFaro01, Andy Mopley and neilG like this.
  17. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Pretty sure the three people I took lessons from all used and taught the pivot. I practiced it for a long time, but eventually abandoned it. I didn't feel it really gave me an advantage in speed, and it tended to worsen my intonation. More importantly, I felt it was hard on my hand.

    My feeling is learning to play with minimal, to no weight on the thumb is the way to go. This is not really something I was able to do as a standing player, as I held the instrument too vertical. About the same time I abandoned the pivot, I transitioned to being primarily a seated player, which made the use of arm weight and pulling from the core much more intuitive.

    Of course if you watch videos of fine Italian bassists, some of them seem to pivot continuously. Maybe if I had their skill and finesse I would have a different opinion.

    Perhaps ironically, I have noticed that I use pivots when I am playing fretted bass guitar. It is not something I developed intentionally. Also I use mostly one finger per fret on bass guitar, and have stuck with a Simandl-based system on upright.
  18. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    4-finger upright bass system, with pivots. Pretty sure he addresses the question posed in this thread during the short video.

    Reg Braithwaite likes this.
  19. PaulCannon


    Jan 24, 2002
    Frankfurt, Germany
    NS Design Endorsing Artist
    I definitely use pivots frequently, and I practice them daily. But the question was regarding the major third interval, which is a specific case where I basically would never favor using a pivot over a shift or low thumb position. When I pivot, 99% of the time it's to cover a minor third or minor sixth across strings.
  20. Dogfightgiggle


    Mar 4, 2020
    I’m curious what kind of position system you guys use.

    It seems that using larger positions and maintaining an ongoing awareness of them, as in a Rabbath or Fractal concept, is an essential part of the pivoting technique. If you mix pivots with a half step position system I don’t know if the value is as apparent.
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