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Rock and roll bass technique

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Gordy, Mar 4, 2002.


  1. Gordy

    Gordy

    Mar 4, 2002
    Dublin, Ireland
    I have to learn to play double bass because my band will be playing some 1950's style rockabilly.

    From listening to the songs, it sounds like the right hand is doing most of the work, slapping and popping strings etc.

    I've been playing electric bass for years (self taught though) and was wondering what tips there are for a beginner — I'm pretty much starting from scratch.
    Thanks!
     
  2. Gordy,if you haven`t done so,check out Rockabillybass.com there is some good info on there with tips etc. a good message board frequented by many slap bass players who you can ask questions and some links to other rockabilly sites.
     
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I am by no means an expert on DB. In fact I just took it up seriously. I too have played EBG for a while. 16 years actually.

    BUT, IMHO, to say that the right hand is doing most of the works is off base.

    Even when you are only working at the base of the neck, at the 1/2, 1, 2 positions, your left hand gets a heck of a workout.

    You have to develop a ton of hand strength and work continously on intonation and the learning the spacing of the longer scale.Try fingering a note at the sixth or seventh tone position (I am not sure what word to use, but knew it wasn't "fret") on the E string with your pinky and then answer which hand is doing the work.

    In my short experience, I haven't stopped rehearsing yet because of a raw right hand. Despite using the meat of the finger instead of the tip, my right hand can survive much longer while practicing than can my left.

    I squeeze a raquet ball all the way to and from work now as a feeble attempt at getting my left hand in shape for DB.

    And, I am left handed while I play both DB and EBG in what would be considered right handed.

    Chas
     
  4. some tips...
    ..plywood basses tend to amplify better and have that "sound"
    ..you can keep steel strings on the E & A but don't bother with steel on the D & G, use gut (you can order them individually from Lemur)
    ..the K&K bass max picup is hard to beat especially for this kind of music
    ..the K&K slap picup is a great addition but not necessary
    ..additional eq such as a boss bass eq pedal is essential
    ..must have a quality speaker (one that will not break up to heavy lows) with a tweeter
    ..at least 200 watt power amp
    ..wrap your cord around the tail piece a couple of times to take the pressure off the connection to the picup (this will allow you to spin the bass, etc. without the pickup flying off)
    ..I think I use 3 fingers to grab the string and pull it off the board, the thud comes when the string strikes back onto the board. That is a single slap and probably what you will use most. For a double slap- you slap your hand back on the board as you grab the string for the next note. For the triple, you slap your hand 2X before you grab. Easy.
    ..some people use high action, I prefer low. That is up to you
    ..that walk that all the songs have can be played in a single position with a half shift
    ..now wrinkle your lip (like Elvis) and gaze at the ceiling while laying down the groove :)
    ........forgive me guys :(
     
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Chasarms:

    Two thoughts struck me while reading your post.

    First, it sounds like you need to get some help on how to finger the beast.

    Second, it sound like your bass is set up more like the Brooklyn bridge than a musical instrument. Get thee to Lex Luthier.
     
  6. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    You are certainly correct on the first point. I have interviewed three teachers and plan to sign on with one this week.

    You are at least partly correct here. Although I think most of it comes from my toybass/slab/canoe paddle technique. Did I leave any of the jabs you guy take?

    Anyway, for years I have layed the action flat on the board and cranked the amp and played with a light touch.

    A decent DB player gave it a go, and said it "wasn't as bad as he has seen"

    Chas
     
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY


    CHASMS,

    You forgot, "Plank". :)



    THE DURRL GOTTA HAVE IT
     
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    'Radio' is another that I haven't heard in a long time, but was in use long ago.

    As far as string height I'm not into the testosteronal thing at all. I'd play bass with no strings if it sounded any good. If you're getting a decent sound then you're doing just fine.
     
  9. Gordy

    Gordy

    Mar 4, 2002
    Dublin, Ireland
    Thanks for all your help lads.
    Fair point Chasarm about Right hand vs Left Hand ... I guess what I was trying to say was that the extra work the right has to do came as a bit of a culture shock, though I'm sure the extra stretching my left will be doing is going to have an effect before long!

    Repetitive Strain Injury here I come!
     
  10. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Ah yes, Plank. I did forget that one. I guess you would call my EBG a plastic plank.

    I like radio, but my favorite is certainly canoe paddle. Being that my DB seems like the canoe itself. I guess I can float on one and row with the other.

    Chas
     
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Yep, that's the plan. Have you seen the pictures of my American Standard yet? It's been down the rapids a few times... can you tell from the pics?


    DURRLWIND
     
  12. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Those aren't rapids! Rapids are when a stream of water rushes over rocks. When the sewer pipe empties into the lake you have call it something else.
     
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Oh Gentle Jedi,

    I don't know the answer to this one, since the bass was like that when I got it. But rapids are a possibility: maybe that green stuff is moss?
     
  14. Andrew_S.

    Andrew_S.

    Jul 24, 2001
    Flagstaff, AZ
    I don't think the right hand gets any more work out than the left. You must remember, though, to relax your wrist. Elsewise you'll get a seriously sore wrist.
    As far as the right hand, it depends on what you're doing. If it's just root/fifth, no problemo! If you're doing walking bass lines (ala Bill Black of Presley fame), intonation is crucial. It's also more tiresome.
    I predominately do doubles and walk the bass. After a three hour set, I probably lose 5 pounds through my pores (ewwwwww). Good luck!
     
  15. Gordy

    Gordy

    Mar 4, 2002
    Dublin, Ireland
    Andrew .... three hour set ... !
    I only have to play for five songs, then I'll be switching back to the 'lectric bas — but I still want to get it right. As it will be Bill Black style, can you explain what you meant about getting the intonation right — like where I put my right hand to the string? Any tips here?
    Thanks
     


  16. I find that intonation is crucial no matter the syle I play.;)
     
  17. Andrew_S.

    Andrew_S.

    Jul 24, 2001
    Flagstaff, AZ
    Very true! I guess that didn't come across as I had intended it to.
    What I meant to imply was achieving proper intonation while doing a root/fifth progression is much easier than attaining it during walking bass lines. Hence, there is a lot more practise involved.

    Gordy,
    yeah, intonation is basically where you put your fingers on the fingerboard. Just remember though, that you're carrying the melody of the song. If you find yourself falling flat or sharp on the notes, you might want to consider the root/fifth technique. I don't know how many rehearsals you'll have before you have to perform but it's a good starting spot IMHO.