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Playin' on a stool

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by lermgalieu, Dec 18, 2002.


  1. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    On the average, how much lower would you put your bass if playing on a (bar)stool?

    Last night for the first time I was forced to play on a stool. I was horribly, abysmally out of tune most of the night (kind of got it at the end). I can't tell if I need to be still lower in regards to the bass. By the end, I had raised the bass enough where I was playing a little better, but I still am having trouble distinguishing between what is just a result of the stool in general, and what is a result of the bass being too low or high.

    Has anyone else done this transition ungracefully? I am thinking of 'manually shortening' the stool - its about standard bar stool length and I am about 6' 2". I can't raise the bass any higher cuz of the ceiling in the rehearsal space, but I also feel like I shouldn't need to, since if I went 1-2" more, it would be where I have it when standing...
     
  2. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    I actually keep my bass the same height whether I'm standing or sitting. Up until recently I had lowered it approx. 2 inches when sitting but lately it's just felt more comfortable having it a bit higher. Another thing to consider is the angle of the bass when sitting, could that be the problem? Also the height of the stool... I'm quite short, around 5'8"-ish and my stool is also quite short. Just make sure you're comfortable. Sitting does take a bit of adjustment time like anything else though, perhaps that's all you need.
     
  3. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I think so - but I guess I am going to have to seriously consider cutting the legs of the stool to lower it a bit. The reason I am using the stool at all is literally to fit in the rehearsal space, so it would be impossible to keep it at the same height I usually play. I assumed I would be able to lower it considerably, but I think I was wrong. I thin you are also right that the angle of the bass is influencing this, I definitely let it lean into me more than when standing, but I don't think this is a bad thing. Oh the other telling thing was that I had to lean a bit too much to bow in the proper place. THanks for your input...
     
  4. MacDaddy

    MacDaddy

    Jan 26, 2002
    Provo, UT, USA
    I used to play standing up oh say 5 years ago until I got my first stool and haven't gone back since. I do have a couple suggestions for ya. I would definatly lower the stool. Lowering it would allow you to either to put your bass at the maximum height or be able to lower it a bit. If you're not playing for a long time, like 3 hours or longer, then going kinda low should be ok as long as you're not in a totally awkward position. Also, you might consider getting one of those nifty bass stools that's adjustable. I got mine from Hammond Ashley of Seattle. (you can call and they'll mail you one) You can adjust the seat to pretty much any height, including a chair like height for cellists. Cool looking to, except if you weigh a bunch you might cause problems as I don't think it can take that much weight. Also, they tend to be pretty pricey, especially for a bass stool. But if you plan to play for prolonged periods of time it's a definate must.
     
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY


    I use a stool and hold the bass in something approaching a cello-like position. Before I got my notched and locking endpin, every now and then I would screw up the length of the pin and it always threw my intonation off until I noticed and fixed it. So it could be the endpin. But even with that issue aside, changing from standing to sitting or vice-versa is a pretty major adjustment if you were only used to one way - more than enough to throw your intonation out the window all by itself.
     
  6. ljazz

    ljazz

    Dec 10, 2002
    Cookeville, TN
    I tried practicing while sitting on a stool last night... it smelled horrible!

    Kidding aside, I'm not sure how you can simulate the correct position of your bass while sitting. I mean the height may be easy to mimick, but the angle is the killer. I find that when I reposition myself to make up for it, I end up very uncomfortable. I try to practice in both positions.... but maybe that just slows down my progress.
     
  7. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I think I will start practicing half on the stool half off or something, so rehearsal isn't filled with leers from my fellow musicians.
     
  8. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Macdaddy, how much did that stool set you back?
     
  9. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    nevermind - $119.95 but they are out of stock anyway. I think I spent that $119.95 on christmas presents.
     
  10. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Naw, its the low ceiling, I can't raise my bass high enough to play it standing up. That's the thing, I can't quite tell if its the same height(in relation to me) as usual cuz of the new angle of the bass.
     
  11. I used to hate playing seated until I figured out the physical proximity thing; and it's important to practice seated occassionally. I still prefer standing but that's not always possible. Some advice I received is that the stool height should be the same as your pant inseem. To accomodate this I don't pull the endpin out nearly as far as I do when I stand. Also, I believe it's fairly common practice to support the back of the bass with your left knee when seated, it sounds to like that contact with the back dampens the bass too much so I manage to keep it off my leg. My playing position isn't much different than when I stand (and sometimes my left foot is on the floor, other times the bottom rung.)
     
  12. Experiment with different heights beginning with the pin all the way in. If it's any help, I'm 6'4". When standing I play with the pin set at the 7th or 8th notch (7 or 8 inches up?), when I sit only the first or second (depending on how I'm feeling.) You should be able to position the bass so that it's relatively the same as when you stand.
     
  13. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I think I found the right spot - about 2" lower than when I stand - I was actually decently in tune last night. I need a cushion tho, without buying a $130 seat. Guess I'll bring a pillow.
     
  14. MacDaddy

    MacDaddy

    Jan 26, 2002
    Provo, UT, USA
    Ah yes the cushion issue. My old stools were these big bulky wooden ones. Man after 3 hours of playing your rear end really kills. Never did find a decent cushion that wouldn't slide. If you do let me know so I can help out others with the same problem.
     
  15. A problem I have observed with playing seated on a stool is that it invites bad use of the spine - not maintaining natural spinal alignment, rounding of the spine instead of hinging at the pelvis when reaching forward/down, general collapsing and slumping, etc.
    When I switched back to standing, Linda McKnight, my teacher, was pleased, and I felt I had more control over the bass and more options. My bowing was less arm focused and began from the spine. I feel more at one with the instrument when standing.
     
  16. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I still don't like the stool - I am using it because I have to to rehearse with my band, but after 3 hours or so, my back hurts the way it used to when I first started playing DB.

    Wah...heh...
     
  17. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    MacDaddy, a good cushioned stool is fairly easy to find. If you already have a wooden stool you are accustomed to you can use some leather, vinyl, etc. and some cushioning and use a staple gun to convert it to a cushioned stool.
     
  18. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I play standing so that I can sit on the breaks. I also like to move around quite a bit when I play -- the ol' stoic thing can get pretty fatiguing. Also, the stool means one more thing to carry.

    The intontation thing moving back and forth only bugs me for a few minutes. Getting a strong connection between ear and hand rather than hand-to-bass-to-ear will help you a lot. This is something that I've been checking out real hard in my pursuit of The Stick.

    It's easier to hear yourself acoustically when you're sitting, although you only hear the higher frequencies due to proximity.

    Bruce Saunders, guitarist, has a space in his basement with a very low ceiling. He knocked a whole, exposing a 1' 1/2" or so of the floorboards above and then put a frame around it. Works great!
     
  19. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    As long as I can correct my playing posture so it doesn't hurt my back, I can live with it for rehearsal. The intonation thing wasn't a thing at all second rehearsal, luckily. Now I just need to get a cushion...

    Its funny, between songs on the stool, I stand up to relax (and stretch the back!). Next lesson, I will have my teacher critique my seated technique...
     
  20. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Oh, and Ray, I appreciate the comment about the ear/hand connection - I think the only reason I was able to acclimate to the stool fairly quickly was my recent indocrination into the worl of the S.O.P. as well...hopefully it will be a springboard to take me out of the world of hack D.B...