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Scales and fingering for beginners

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by theboakster, Jul 22, 2008.


  1. I'm a terrible procrastinator and even though I've been playing the bass for about 2 years now I hardly ever practice! I'm comfortable in half and first position and can do scales of one octave up and down in these positions. But I completely get lost when I have to find notes outside this!

    I can't afford a teacher and am looking for someone to help me get out of this position and help me understand which fingers I should be using where and on what string!!! (I use 1, 2 and 4 fingering)

    So, looking major scales from the E and A strings I can do E, F, G, A, Bb no problems. C is ok but moving up to top C I find a bit tricky to make sure I'm completely in tune.
    F#, B, C# I can't really do properly. And anything beginning from the D or G strings I'm stuck on.:meh:

    Any help out there?!

    Also, should I still be concentrating on one octave scales up and down until I get comfortable with these or should I try and do more?
     
  2. ctcruiser

    ctcruiser

    Jan 16, 2005
    West Haven, CT
    I would get a copy of the Simandl book. It was very helpful for me getting started.

    But, nothing replaces a teacher. Especially starting out.
     
  3. Menacewarf

    Menacewarf

    Mar 9, 2007
    Oregon
    The book mainly offers a common language for you and the teacher(enzyme)

     
  4. I knew those two pieces of advice would be what I'd get !!! Thanks, and I know you're totally right but a) I have a copy of Simandl (but it's a bit too hard at the moment for me by myself) and b) I can't currently afford a teacher and I'm pregnant so lugging bass anywhere is just not possible.

    So.. anyone got any advice on fingering/scales?
     
  5. endorka

    endorka

    Oct 15, 2004
    Glasgow, Scotland
  6. Some lessons are better than none, surely you can afford 1 or 2 a month - most teachers will let you use their bass at lessons. You could also try to find a younger classical bass student to get you going for a little cheaper.
    If you don't practice it is doubtful that even the lower positions are working out for you.
    A good teacher can work with a shorter but daily practice schedule.
    You should also be practicing with a bow.
    Rather than thinking "too hard" about Simandl (or one of the other accepted methods), just consider it a fact and do a little at a time. Learning bass is a bit like traditional marble sculpture - it does not come all at once, instead you chip away a bit each day.
    I would suggest that you scrape together some money for a few lessons and carve out some practice time, if not maybe the double bass is not for you.
     
  7. Having just recently watched my wife endure a rough pregnancy I sympathize (as much as a man can) and applaud the fact that you would even try this while pregnant. Definitely don't try carrying a bass around! But do consider all possibilities to getting even just one or two lessons, which will give you fuel to get on to the next steps. As Damon says, most teachers will let you use their bass. They might even have a spare on hand.

    From what you say it sounds like you've got half position down. Now for 1st position (if I am naming them properly from my Simandl book). F#, B and C# can be accessed all in one position. First, find the F# by comparing it with the open E. Play the F natural in between if it helps orient you. When you find it, switch positions so that you're playing the F# with your first finger. The B will be in the exact same spot on the A string. The C# you would access with your 4th finger. Again, use the open strings as a reference for intonation.

    Watch this video, it may help a bit:


    Also check out his other lessons.
    And I second the importance of practicing with the bow, as the pitch becomes much more clear, and your intonation along with it.
     
  8. If your going to have a baby in few months, I strongly suggest you learn the upright bass as quickly as possible - you'll need something to keep you sane after the baby arrives! :)

    But seriously, I'd would try putting some dots on the edge of your fingerboard (next to the E string) to orientate yourself and help out with intonation. This is probably frowned upon by the experienced players, but I did this when I started out. I used a white out correction pen (which comes off with your fingernail very easily) to put small dots on the G and A positions on the E string as is often seen on guitars. You may want to go up to the B and octave high E when you get that far up the fingerboard later on.

    Once you have gained confidence with the dots, try playing with your eyes closed or in a totally dark room. If you're OK with that, the dots can come off.
     
  9. Thanks everyone, this is really helpful.

    Jennifer - those scale sheets are EXACTLY what I was looking for, thank you so much!

    Damon - I must stick up for myself slightly, I do practice sometimes!!! :D ...but it's more a 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there random thing and I feel if I want to progress at a better rate I should be a bit more organised with it. I know the lower positions are working for me fine, as I'm from a music background (I'm a trained jazz vocalist doing a PhD in musicology, so I have good pitch and a very strong ear). But I do agree that the odd lesson would be good and that working with the bow is also a good tactic. So thank you for your advice. I think trying to find a classical bass student is an excellent idea so I'll try that too :)

    MingusAmongUs (great name by the way!) - congratulations on your baby and thanks for the tips. I'm hoping the bass will a) keep me sane and b) inspire my young one!! Thanks for the scale info, that's brilliant, and the video. I'm ready for a good practice session now :bassist:

    Dr Piggery (another quality name!) - I'll give the dots a go, as whilst my pitch is good it may just support my confidence as I get further up the fingerboard. The dark room is a great idea too!!!

    Thanks everyone
     
  10. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I wouldn't bother with the dots. My trick has been to use the particular grain patterns on the back of the neck to get landmarks for particular notes. Otherwise pencil marks work.
     
  11. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Mar 6, 2021

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