Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Scratchy 1/16's

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Scot, Nov 5, 2005.


  1. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Hoping someone may have some suggestions/advice. It's very difficult to play 1/16 notes on the same string and keep the bow hairs grabbing the string enough to avoid getting a scratchy sound. Even at around 50 bpm it's very difficult (e.g., some of the open string exercises in Rufus's book). The scratchy sound I'm getting doesn't sound horrible but it bugs me because it doesn't feel like I'm getting good full notes like when I play longer tones. I'm managing getting a good sound playing through the Simandl stuff I'm working on but it's a lot of work to keep from getting a scratchy sound. I'm more of a pizz guy and have my bass setup with medium string height and Spirocore Orchestras. I'm using Carrlsons rosin and one of Bob G's German bows. Is it just going to be impossible to get the arco sound I want with the Spiros? I'm thinking of changing to a hybrid string like the Dominants. The thing is that I love the sound of the Spiros for jazz/pizz playing. Not sure if this is an Orchestra Technique thread or a Strings thread so mods please feel free to move it.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    I'm going to reccomend the switch to Dominants. IMO, while I like the pizz sound of Spiros much better alone, but in the mix, Dominants sound much better. Also, Dominants bow beautifully.

    That said, how recent is the bow? I'm no expert by any means, but the hair might not be fully broken in yet. I know it takes some weeks to fully break it in. You might need a stickier rosin -- I'm a Pops man, myself.

    However, in the end, it's probably just the Spiros.
     
  3. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Thanks for your recommendation, Aaron. I'm glad you said that because I've been curious about the pizz sound on my bass with Dominants and I'll certainly welcome any help I can get with my arco playing. I'm going to give them a shot.

    The bow is about a year old and has the original hair. I tried a fresh can of Pops a few months ago and it didn't seem to make much difference.
     
  4. ToR-Tu-Ra

    ToR-Tu-Ra

    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    I got the same problem, not only with 1/16 notes, but with 1/8's too. I play Clef guts that are not the easiest to bow out there so that could be the reason. Also, my bowing technique is not close to good, but I realized that a little "twist" in the wrist when changing bow direction helps a bit. You may already know that, just my two cents.
     
  5. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Try rubbing some rosin on your strings (in the area that you bow). I do this on my nylon wrapped Labella's and it works great.
     
  6. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Thanks for the replies! I'll try the rosin on the strings thing and the twist thing.
     

  7. The last set of Spiro I had on a bass sounded pretty damn good for arco. Of course, they'd been on the bass for about 6 years at that point....
     
  8. ToR-Tu-Ra

    ToR-Tu-Ra

    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    Another thing I noticed today is that I was squeezing the bow very hard. As soon as I relaxed my grip, things seemed to start sounding better. I think I'm finally getting the hold of this arco thing :D
     
  9. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    That usually takes care of most technical problems.
     
  10. jvillarreal

    jvillarreal

    Oct 7, 2002
    Tulsa, OK
    Hey Scot et all, here's something to try: practice your long bows without a strong attack, and making the most smooth, beautiful tone possible. When you achieve a great long bow, gradually speed up the bowing to the desired tempo while using the same arm movements you did with the long bows - just shorter, faster movements now. Don't get discouraged, or try to speed up the tempo too quickly! It really is (almost) that simple. :)

    ...and like others have said, stay relaxed.
     
  11. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I have found that the only way to get a smooth Bow tone is good equipment and good technique. Most people do not have the best Bass or Bow possible so some compromise must be made here at the least. Your Bass must be properly set up for bowing as well. Then, the cheapest fix would be the strings. The best String for bowing is Pirastro Flexocor. If you want to do some pizz as well, use the Pirastro Permanents for the E and A with Flexocor G and D. If you want as smooth as possible for a Steel string sound you can go all Flexocor but use the Stark E flex. Wanna get darker and Guttish, go with Jaegar mediums or Fortes if your Bass and hands can take the heavier Red Fortes.

    I play both Classical and Jazz but I set up each Bass to do both. I used to use Obligatos as a Spirocore substitute for my bowing needs but decided the Bowing was more important than Pizz growl that actually is mostly 'noise' instead of the fundamental note tone. After all it IS a Bass and should sound like one and not a buzzy guitar.

    So, if you wanna Bow, use what the Bowers use and work your way back from there. Also, the best teacher you could find would be one that plays in a Professional Symphony Orchestra.
     
  12. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Thanks for the excellent advice! I guess the ideal situation would be to have 2-basses, one setup for jazz/pizz and one for arco/classical.

    I've been trying very hard to heed to all the advice on TBDB regarding relaxing, using the weight of the bow, etc. It's really helped a lot. This forum has been a great resource.
     
  13. ToR-Tu-Ra

    ToR-Tu-Ra

    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    Same thing over here! I feel I'm really improving! I think my bass is setup properly for arco, it has a nice curve at the bridge that makes transition between strings easy but keeps them separated enough. I don't think I'll be changing the guts I got for a while now, I really like the tone both arco and pizz. Besides, everytime I play one of he school basses I feel like I'm bowing spaghetti! IMHO it's a good workout. Well, I should get going now or I'll be late for class. Oh, BTW, my teacher doesn't play ina profesional orchestra but he does play classical and I think he does a good job. Thanks everyone!
     
  14. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    On Two Basses, I don't see the need at your level. If you can, get a better Bass overall. I can play either style with all my Basses including my Shen.

    On the Bow weight, that would apply to a good bow that has some weight. The Bow you have may help you to develop some bad habits, If you can, try some bows in the 3k-10k range just to see how they work. Then go back to your bow and you will understand how one must compensate to get sound out.

    At a recent Concert I played we had a Sub playing next to me on Bass. He had some type of Graphite Bow. It was a big step up he said from the cheaper wood Bow he had used before. At rehearsal I let him try my Eibert Bow (152g) and I used his for a while. I was using my Gilkes Bass and had to work hard to get the Bow to pull sound. He could not believe the difference with my Bow and commented on how much easier it was to play with it.

    You will not know a smooth ride until you have one. From there, you can work your way up as time goes on. Even a good player will work harder or easier depending on the equipment he uses.
     
  15. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Thanks, Ken. Well, after dropping 5k on this bass 8 months ago there's no chance of me getting another bass anyway unless they make one that 4 people can live in.

    I'm going to give the Dominants a whirl and will come back and report my findings with this 1/16 note thing.

    Thanks all!
     
  16. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I wasn't suggesting for you to buy another Bass. I was referring to you owning 2 Basses. In that case, just get one good one. You will better off than with two less expensive ones. What I do suggest is to maybe upgrade your Bow the next time you are gear shopping. This can make a huge difference. Good luck either way...
     
  17. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Thanks again, Ken. I really appreciate your advice. I didn't mean to imply that you were suggesting I get a second bass. I was mostly trying to clarify that I was just fantasizing along the lines of: if I hit the MegaMillions lottery I would have 2 great basses, one setup for jazz and one for classical. It's encouraging to see that you're doing both on all your basses.

    I'm going to look in to trying some higher quality bows. It would be great to test drive a Ferrari to see what it feels like, so to speak. The only bows I've tried are a very cheap fiberglass hair rental bow and now this one from Bob G.

    Thanks again!
     
  18. B. Johnson

    B. Johnson

    Apr 28, 2005
     
  19. I know this topic has been fully discussed but I had/have problems with a scratchy tone. Check your bow techinque, do you have enough weight in the string? are you bowing straight? how close are you to the bridge? being too close can give a scratchy, almost nasal tone but being to far away can make the 1/16 notes not speak well. You have to find where your bass likes to have the bow and go from there.
     
  20. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I need to emphasize the importance of bow placement. For fast passages, try using the bow a little farther from the bridge than you think you should. Perhaps sacrifice a little bit of bite and volume, in exchange for a less strident and scratchy tone.

    And use short strokes! Also, don't use too much pressure. Finally, too much rosin is no better than too little.

    There are a lot of factors playing in.. and I know the frustration when you can't get rid of the scratch, trust me I've been there. Just play around with each "parameter" of your bowing one by one and find the optimal sound.

    P.S. the spiro's certainly aren't helping you