Playing up high.

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by no_poetic_devic, Dec 27, 2002.

  1. I just got my new bass and i've been playing it non stop but i have a hard time playing the high notes where the neck goes down past the top of the body (I'm not the best at explaining).
    But i have to kind of wrap my arm around the body and it makes it very difficult to play.
    Anyone have any pointers?
  2. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    Oh, they've got lots of pointers - but, I haven't figured it out yet and i've been playing for almost 3 years. Hope you have better luck.
  3. Hello,
    It is called Thumb Position. I have been playing Double Bass for a around two years now and my Teacher has not had do any of that stuff yet. There is alot of dos and donts up there. I assume you dont have a Teacher so the Best thing you can do...Trust me on this get a Good Teacher. I have played Bass for ..oh gee wiz..15 years now and the Double Bass for two and it is not the same. I understand your playing non stop with your new Bass and that is great but....If ANYTHING on your body starts to hurt...stop and relax. Take care my Man and welcome to the Dark Side..


    If the world didnt suck we would all fall off.....
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    You don't use your pinky. Your thumb becomes your first finger and the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fingers then fall into line. You probably will have to learn some body english to access that part of the bass, unless you're about 8 feet tall.

    A lot of teachers will put off learning TP, but I think students should start learning the entire bass at pretty much the same time. It's no harder than the rest of the bass (and easier for certain things), and becomes an emotional hurdle down the road if put off.

    Get a teacher if you don't have one.
  5. Don't go there. You don't belong there. If you insist on playing there without the oversight of a teacher, you are going to screw up your playing, big-time.
    Rookie enthusiasm is fun, investigate how it sounds and feels, and then get out before you set BAD HABITS that you won't be able to get rid of.
  6. SleeperMan2000


    Jul 31, 2002
    Cary NC
    After 8 months with a teacher using Simandl, I'm working on 5th position, which is right where "up high" begins as you describe it.

    Maybe I'm slow, but I'm not encouraged to move on until the etudes sound something like they should.

    I'm also bowing, so that slows things down a bit as well.

    So, after eight months of instruction, I'm just getting "up high"!!!!
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I agree, Don, except that I wouldn't differentiate between that part of the bass and any other when recommending that he get a teacher ASAP to avoid bad habits.
  8. MacDaddy


    Jan 26, 2002
    Provo, UT, USA
    TP certainly is fun, but if you have horrible technique it'll be very difficult to play in tune, as is the rest of the bass. I'm finally at the point where I have the full range of the bass under my fingers, and personally I think I have pretty good technique. My teacher no longer hounds me on it thankfully, she was brutal before. So, to echo all the others, get a teacher and stay out of TP for a while.
  9. Hello,
    Well I guess I do head up that way from time to time like practicing my scales I`ll hit the G or maybe an A but for the most part "The Teach" has me stay on the Ground for now. I too play with the Bow also. I have found that much of Classical Music does good to reach a high D so the need to spend my practice time on Thumb Position is not smart at this time in my learning....kinda the learn to walk before you run thing. From time to time when working on a walking Jazz song I`ll head up there but get that "head tilt...huh" from my teacher because of course its a little out of tune.
    I have much respect for the likes of Michael Moore that make it "look" so easy and play tune. I understand Don has/had lessons with him and I wonder what direction he go`s in with his students as far as Thumb Position. Starting out new on the Bass or waits? Thank you


    If the world didnt suck we would all fall off....
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The entire instrument is difficult to play in tune, but with the top half of the bass it's easier to hear the bad intonation as you've entered the range of human voice and our ears distinguish pitch much more clearly here.

    I strongly advocate that students get familiar with the entire bass early. I go as far as really disliking the term 'thumb position' at some level, as this helps to build the emotional boundry that so many bass players set up for themselves concerning the 'other half' of their instrument.
  11. This is so true, especially if you're playing with others or along with a recording, where the lower notes blend more easily.
    Also, because the positions get progressively closer as you move higher on the neck, a small error in placement will produce a note much further from the target than with lower positions.
  12. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    It's the notes that are real close, but out, that give me the shudders :)
  13. I've been playing for 2 1/2 years on DB after 15 years on BG and am just starting to get into the thumb position. My teacher has me working in the lower positions in Simandl, but I am stsrting to explore the upper register on my own. I would say get scales in tune in the lower regions first then slowly move up into TP. Start with C major and go two octaves with that first. Plus get Simandl book 1 and two those will help. Most important though is GET A TEACHER! Only with a teacher can you avoid the bad habits that self teaching devlops that can hurt you in the long run. Plus keep your fingers arched even in TP.
  14. Castle (a really great house):
    I have no idea how Michael Moore takes a student to thumb position. I came to him with the Simandl foundation intact, so we just started at thumb position. With new students, he teaches the Streicher method. With older players like me, he doesn't use up time converting from Simandl. My studies with Moore were 80% theory of jazz harmony, including writing something for each lesson. In the application part, I was expected to solo at length below, and then at length above, the octave.

    Ray: (By the way, people, if Ray is so smart, how come he's going to Toledo? Answer me that.)
    I'm aware of one well known teacher who starts children at the octave and works his way down (up?) to the nut. They have no fear of heights.
  15. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    That would seem an odd place to start someone, but if it works -- it works.
  16. George F. Schmidtt

    George F. Schmidtt

    Dec 21, 1999
    This is also the basis for Suzuki on Bass - Book 1 uses the awkward fingering that starts at the traditional "money" position (1st finger on D of the G string) and goes right to Thumb Position in Book 2. As some have noted, it is good to start students in this area so that they don't have fear of using the other half of the fingerboard - I teach this but for my own use prefer extended (Franck) fingering.
  17. The Gary Karr method books also start up high (this may be what Don is referring to)

    Book I starts with lots of bowing-based exercises, bow speed, position, re-taking, etc, and the only fingering thoughout most or all of Book I is harmonics - the octave, the octave-plus-a-fifth, and the second octave. Book II is out of print, and I have never seen a copy, so I don't know how he begins to introduce more fingering in the left hand, which is already fairly well there over theentire bass by Book III.

    Like Ray, I am VERY sympathetic to this approach. High positions are only harder if you think they're harder, and if by the time you try them, your body is already locked into certain habits which favour the lower positions. (I also like that this method starts introducing important bowing disciplines from the get-go, such as paying attention to bow speed and position, and learing to use the whole bow.)

    Two problems with this book, in my view, are 1) its probably not easy to find a teacher who knows how to use it, and 2) it appears to be aimed at children, and is very "nursery" in tone (the early etudes are pretty much like "hot cross buns" - instead, try Rabbath Book I for beginner etudes which are more musical).

    BTW, you HAVE got the message that you need a teacher, eh?
  18. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
    I agree with Ray's initial post. I also think that students should learn the entire bass at the same time. After going through the rigor of Simandl thumb position can be a cause of much anxiety for many students.
  19. I read that Edgar Meyer had little metal circles put on his fingerboard to help him to know where the notes are in the thumb position or "higher register", because he says that he tends to play sharp as he gets excited when going up to the higher register. I am having this problem a lot as well. Does anyone have any suggestions on this problem? Thanks.
  20. Gabe


    Jan 21, 2003
    I use a piece of scotch tape to mark the higher positions. It's really helpful for training yourself. Also, from a distance no one can tell it's marked.