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Playing more like a cello makes an unbelievable difference for technique

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Libersolis, Jan 18, 2012.


  1. Libersolis

    Libersolis

    Sep 9, 2004
    Austin, TX
    I have always played sitting but with the bass standing up almost entirely straight. Ive always experienced discomfort in my left shoulder, upper back and always felt the strings were difficult to hold down.

    I use the muscles in my arm and back to pull back on the string but what ive come to understand is that when the bass is tall you experience a fundamental issue.

    You are pulling an object away and not down therefore creating the same effect as pulling a rope from a wall but having o hold it up.

    The further the bass goes to the side the less it benefits from falling naturaly into your lap, stomach etc. by allowing the bass to fall and by positiong youself behind it you are taking advantage of gravity. Simply by placing your left hand on the strings this way is almost enougj force to press them down.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    A fundamental part of Rabbath's technique aided by use of the angled endpin.
     
  3. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Let's be careful this doesn't slip into the sitting/ standing debate again, but if you really want to play like a cellist...:D
     
  4. Libersolis

    Libersolis

    Sep 9, 2004
    Austin, TX
    I also find it incredibly easy to reach all of the strings comfortably with my left hand. Im also considering raising the action a bit to improve the tone. This is something I thought I would never say.
     
  5. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Yup, this core with Rabbath. I messed around with an Eggpin and saw benefits. Before you go full into sitting down, I'd try to get yourself with an angled endpin. After messing with it a while, you can switch back and forth with a regular pin and try to bring some of the angled aspects into regular pin playing. It's not as effective as using an angled pin, but you can sorta get a hybrid technique. I didn't stick with the angled pin mainly because I couldn't get a fat pizz sound for jazz with it. I got more meat on the string with a straight pin.
     
  6. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    I fought and fought and fought with the bass standing up. When i got a stool that all went away. Its awesome.
     
  7. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Yeah, sitting down eliminates a tremendous amount of left hand tension for many, many people. It also makes the bow more comfortable for many, many people as well.
     
  8. Amen to sitting with the bass at a flatter angle to the floor¬óworks even with my odd bass. I find less left hand tension because I don't have to squeeze with my thumb. Sometimes I practice with the thumb not even touching the neck of my bass, just to get a feel for pressing down instead of squeezing.

    In youtube videos of Red Mitchell, he appears to have his bass leaning back flatter than most, so . . .
     
  9. Libersolis

    Libersolis

    Sep 9, 2004
    Austin, TX
    I have always played sitting (save a few months when I first got a bass) and I was shown how to pull back and use the muscles in my back and arms to press the string down. This is good, but still not optimal in my opinion.

    If you more upright the bass is the more you are then forced to both keep the bass balanced and stable, while pulling back. In essence this creates conflicting energy and leads to tension. By allowing the bass to fall and rest on the body, you are now able to use the arm and weight of your body to press the to pull down towards the floor.

    I came upon this by accident. Teachers have tried to show me but I never really felt it until I (ironically standing) placed the bass in front of me as a joke and played. The fingerboard suddenly felt as light and smooth as could be.
     
  10. Libersolis, so do you sit with the bass really like a cello, in between your legs? Doesn't the big body cause discomfort in the hip areas? Also, how is the jazz pizz happening, especially on the G an D strings? I can imagine a nice french bow hold in this way, but it might be less elegant for the german bow. Any pics or videos?
     
  11. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I don't think he is placing the bass entirely between his legs.
    I too play in a cello like position when bowing. But the back of the bass is still resting on my left leg.
    I too play standing sometimes (when playing jazz or fusion). The main benefits of playing sitting down is that it is much easier to go in and out of thumb position.

    how/why does the angled end pin affect your tone then?
     
  12. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    I also notice a bit of a difference with pizz playing. I seem to get more meat on the string when standing with a straight endpin, therefore a fuller sound. It also might be an illusion as the sound is projecting differently related to the bass angle and body position. Also, haven't noticed a difference in my recorded sound between the two.
     
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    You know where I stand on this (pun intended). I don't want to start a flame fest between standing and sitting players, but my body finds natural leverage most easily from the position you describe. EEMMV, as it obviously does.


    In my experience, as long as the feet are on a roughly equivalent level, this seated position tends to keep the lower spine straight, and prevents slouching from this area. Some slouching can still occur in the upper parts of the back and shoulders, but this is more the fault of the player rather than of the basic position. Here's a pic that shows one angle of the position I'm talking about:

    [​IMG]

    In my case, since I don't bow much, I simply place my right knee inside the bass side bout. On the rare occasions when i do use a bow (German), I usually drop the right leg to the floor, then curl it back up when I get back to extended pizz playing.

    Here's another from a bit further away:

    [​IMG]
     
  14. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    "There's more than one way to play this thing"
    Bill Adam, trumpet guru

    Eric- I've found the angle thing to be psychosomatic. When the top is angled more towards my face I hear the bass more clearly but yes, after years of experimenting it doesn't seem to affect recorded (or audience perceived) sound one bit.

    Side note about standing- there's also the Gary Karr school of leaning the bass into the hand, but I haven't seen a Karr disciple play jazz this way... Thoughts?
     
  15. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Because when I relax my fingers, it naturally points down along the side of the string. I can relax a tiny bit more. I like to get alot of meat on the string - almost to the point of grabbing with the larger knuckle on my index finger. Big fat, Mingus type sound esp if you do one fingered technique. Sitting down, the ergonomics for the right wrist get weird. I can't slap as well sitting down too... I throw a few hits in here and there now.

    Besides, my rhythm/time is worse sitting down. Prob a psychological thing.
     
  16. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
  17. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Great video. I sit exactly like that.
    Nice up close shots. Notice how he lets his fingers loose on the bow lots of times. Sometimes only holding the bow with thumb and index fingers.
    Most people are taught holding all fingers on the bow all the time.
     
  18. My position is more similar to Rinat's than Chris' above. As a short person I find it uncomfortable to play sitting down with both feet on the ground. It seems like taller players tend to favor having both feet on the ground.
     
  19. Very interesting thread I've been experimenting with these sitting techniques with positive results also.
    Chris,
    In the picture you posted (of you?) it looks like there's a velvet hair tie over the strings just above the nut.
    Is that some kind of mute?
    Thanks
     
  20. GrowlerBox

    GrowlerBox

    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    I think it's just where he keeps it when he uses his glasses to keep his flowing locks out of his eyes. Sorry :D

    It looks like a really comfortable playing position, though.

    Edit: in the lower photograph (with the glasses), is the trailing edge of the lower bout behind your end pin directly on the floor?
     

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