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Question for those who play both UB & BG

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by lowphatbass, Jul 11, 2005.

  1. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Long ago when UB became my primary instrument over BG I decided it would be easier to use aspects of my UB fingering technique when playing BG as well. The taping of certain fingers together and constant badgering from my instructor may have played a role. This meant not using my 3rd finger on my left hand until I was up around or above the 12th fret(it sorta feels like the right place). At the time the sacrafice of seemed justified, just as it does today. When you get right down to it BG is pretty much a "toy" in comparison to a 4/4 UB set-up for arco work.
    I have stuck with this technique over many years even though my UB seldom makes it out of the house to a gig these days. I am getting ready to start "shedding" more on my UB. I am going to break myself all the way down and attempt to correct a couple minor flaws I had(have) in my basic technique.

    Here are my questions:
    I see UB players using all four fingers on the entire range of the neck, not just in the higher registers. Is this "legit"? anybody out there using this or have something to share about it? Should I even consider it with a 44" mensure? Should I look toward another Bass?

    I am always going to believe that any technical compromises that need to be made MUST be made on the BG side, to play UB properly you really can't compromise anything, so please don't think I am looking for any short cuts.
    I really want to hear from those who are technically sound and/or have experience trading off between UB and BG before I head-off on this challenging journey....again.
    (p.s. brutal honesty encouraged, I have no feelings for you to hurt)
  2. anonymous8547j7d7b

    anonymous8547j7d7b Guest

    Jul 1, 2005
    I remember my first bass. It was an early Boosey & Hawkes with a solid top & ply back & sides - & a 44.5" stop. I had to shift to play a fifth in 1/2 position. I do have small hands myself, but a huge handed orch/jazzer who even uses extension (ie bg 1 finger per fret) fingerings in 1/2 position told me to get rid of the bass. Quickly. Honestly, you really will notice the difference. I switched from bg as well & recall not thinking anything of the B&H @ the time. i guess I kind of expected it to be hard to play etc. I suspect you might be in the same boat, so a bass with a reasonable string length could well rekindle your love affair with the instrument.
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Why are you killing yourself with a 44" String Length. That in it self is a problem. I have one 42.5 and that's my limit. My deepest most powerful sounding Bass is 41.5" with only 7 3/8" Ribs.

    Get a Bass between 41 and 42 and use the standard fingering from Simandl. No neet to reach for the stars. Playing in tune in half and first position is not as easy as it seems.
  4. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Well, I guess I'll get my bass in for a once over and a set-up like originally planned, and also get an appraisal as well. I guess that is the first step in trying to get rid of it. :( If it were a BG I would just keep it around but this baby takes up alot of space.

    The Simandl book has been located and dusted-off for a couple weeks now. I am not looking to reach the stars anytime soon, just trying to get out of the basement and get some blue sky over my head for now.

    I am a big guy and I like a big bass, but 44" IS a bit of a tussle and I understand that "big" doesn't have to mean "long". When I get an idea of what my bass might bring in resale I'm sure I will be looking for some more answers.
    Thanks Guys!!
  5. Johnnythekid

    Johnnythekid Guest

    Dec 20, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    I was kind of wondering that myself. If you have larger hands and a normal scale bass, is it bad to use all four left hand fingers? I used to just use one finger per (what would be) "fret" on the fingerboard. I.E. I would play F 1st finger, F#2nd, G 3rd, Ab 4th on the E string. My teacher saw me do that first lesson and right away told me to use my 4th in place of the third. I've got that way down now and do as he says, but if it's not a "dirty" technique to use the ol' third finger I might slip it in on a quick run or something.
  6. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    To be honest, I find it much easier to play in tune on my 42.5" DB than the school's 41" DB -- the one I'd been playing for over six months before I even touched the one I own now! This is definitely a "personal preference" thing. I always just found myself stretching too dang far in half and first, but it's what FELT appropriate -- just didn't sound right. Always had to check myself when playing the shorter one, but on mine it's much easier to play in tune. Definitely different strokes for different folks, though.
    That said, I'd say a lot of it is also just the strings/setup -- the school's is very "stuffy" and dampened sounding. Very unclear. Mine (spiro reds, very resonant for a laminate) is very clear with a defined fundamental pitch.

    Most of the people I see doing the 4 finger technique in the lower ranges have HUGE hands -- John Clayton is the only person I've SEEN do it, and his hands are absolutely massive (and he was using Obligatos at the time, so the tension couldn't have been killing his rather well-seasoned hands.) My hands...are not. Rather average, actually.
  7. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Well, after having this bass for 15 years I feel like I was fairly comfortable playing on it and always had a difficult time intonating on shorter scale UB's and EUB's. Now that I have stepped away from it for a time I have really taken Ken's and Aaron's advise to heart. This is a great time to make a change!
    I am 6'2" with a 6'5" wingspan and although my fingers are not long for my size my hands are quite large and wide.
    I have really grown to appreciate having a bass that projects well and speaks with alot of volume and I am comfident I can find a bass of more "modern", playable dimensions that will make me happy, whether or not it will be in a comfortable price range is another story.
    I fear the difficulty is going to be finding an appropriate buyer for my bass!!
  8. jstiel

    jstiel Jim Stiel

    Jun 5, 2004
    Lake Orion, MI
    As an alternative to selling your bass, you may want to look into having a false nut installed which would shorten your scale.
  9. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The False nut will only work if the Bass will remain at about a D neck. The Bridge can't be moved to much and you don't want to move the F# up too high out of reach. It is a good way to fix SOME Long Basses but not all.
  10. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Besides the string length, this bass has other challenging physical dimensions that have allowed me to move forward(in my mind) with the seperation process. The neck is quite large, really large. The shoulders do have a bit of a slope to them, but they are also quite broad, access to the upper register is not terribly difficult, but it could be easier.
    I thought about the false nut idea, and it this was an older instrument that had more going for it I would consider it more seriously. I really think this bass should be in the (really big) hands of an orchestral student. To me the sound is very loud and deep, but still quite "closed". Tonally this bass meets my expectations. I mainly will be playing pizz/jazz so I think I am being realistic in thinking that a new bass in the $3000-$4000 range(probably hybrid) will suit my needs quite well.
    (excuse the ramble, it is mainly for me to aid in the seperation process, thanks!!)
    Question regarding false nut:
    Will moving the bridge higher change the "depth" of the sound?

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