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Setup double check

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by RattleSnack, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. RattleSnack

    RattleSnack Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2011
    Hi everyone, I am looking for opinions considering my curent setup. I have 20 years of experience in playing and setting my bass guitars, but just 6 months playing double bass (pizz and simple 1-5 most of the time).
    I have chinese plywood double bass, checked and set by local luthier of good reputation. He gave my instrument a grade "decent", considers it OK choice for a learning and small gigs. He agreed with me that relief is too big, so he plained (flattened) fingerboard.
    But my left fretting hand got tired playing for longer than 30 minutes even after that, so I am considering asking him for even flatter fingerboard. I understand I am beginner at double bass, but have a hard time accepting this phisical barrier. I am no stranger to high tension flatwound strings on a bass guitar and have no problem playing 3 hour funk/soul gig, without break.
    At the moment, E string is Spirocore medium, A, D and G are no-name metal-core strings, possibly tensionvise equivalent of Spirocore light. Earlier there were Dominant medium, but I couldn't deal with stiffnes.
    At the nut, strings are low (thin paper barely fits under), at the end of fingerboard bottom of the strings is 7, 6, 5 and 4 mm high (or low, right?). When I press E string at the end of the fretboard and connect them, relief is about 2 mm at the most.
    I read here that for pizz jazz, fingerboard should be pretty flat. Do you think my setup and specialy relief is OK?
  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Your setup sounds good to me. If you have adjusters you could lower the bridge another mm. It takes time to develop strength and 6 months is pretty short. Maybe get a set of Spiro Weich or Zyex Light to make things easier on the hands.
  3. Sounds ok. As Eric said, six months is not much. It takes time. Remember to use open strings when you can, that will give short breaks. I too came from BG, and I wasn't used to playing open strings at all. Got tired very fast, open strings helped.
    RattleSnack, Dabndug and Rodger Bryan like this.
  4. jsf729

    jsf729 Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2014
    Central Maryland
    Setup sounds fine. Maybe try a set of Corellis. They are easy on the hands.
    RattleSnack likes this.
  5. s0707


    Jun 17, 2015
    Technique could also help. Remember not to squeeze with your hand muscles, but rather try to pull back with you upper arm (triceps?) and shoulder.
  6. John Chambliss

    John Chambliss Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2005
    Memphis, TN
    Plus one to everything already said. Focus on relaxing and technique when you perform. And be sure you're not squeezing with your thumb/left hand.
    RattleSnack and Dabndug like this.
  7. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Everyone here has made good suggestions. Do you have a teacher? Left-hand technique on DB is very different from bass guitar technique.

    Strings made for solo tuning (up a step) but tuned down to "orchestra tuning" may help too.
    RattleSnack and Dabndug like this.
  8. RattleSnack

    RattleSnack Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2011
    Thank you all for thoughts. Now I am certain my setup is OK and I just need to keep working.
    I had one entry lesson and continued working on my own, with help of youtube lessons. I had two gigs and was told my tone is OK and posture is fine. Yes, I use 1-2-5 (edit: 1-2-4) fingering. I do squeeze with my left hand thumb, so I will try using my weight more.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
  9. duckyincarnate


    Oct 18, 2005
    London, UK
    If at all possible, try to have fairly regular lessons for the first year - there is a lot of value in having someone experienced observe your playing, and giving you advice. Playing with a bow is also a great way of perfecting your left hand technique, again with the help of a teacher.
  10. I am a bit suspicious of the "no name" strings. Some people like to mix weich A-D-G Spirocores with medium E, that could be a possibility.
    unbrokenchain likes this.
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    1 2 5?
    Silevesq and unbrokenchain like this.
  12. What everybody has said. Your setup seems to be fine (the fingerboard relief, string height and the nut) even with strings which would have a stiffness which could be considered normal.

    You must remember that 6 months is not much. The left hand technique playing double bass differs from bass guitar technique, and you are using different muscles, hand positions and tendons in your your arm and wrist. It takes time to get used to it, and build the necessary stamina, and it´s something that every one must go through. There are no exceptions to this.

    Be careful not to squeeze the neck. You must learn to use the weight of your whole arm to stop the strings, it is very different than stopping the notes in a bass guitar neck. Try stopping the notes without pressing your thumb to the back of the neck at all - you will notice that it´s possible if your playing position is right and you are using the weight of your whole arm. Then gradually add thumb pressure to back of the neck, and stop before you start feeling that you are squeezing.

    If anything else does not help, you could try to play a bass with gut strings. They are easy to the left hand, but you can not just change your strings to guts with your current setup. Some like them, some don´t.
    RattleSnack likes this.
  13. If you play seated the weight of the arm might be enough to get the string in contact with the fingerboard. If you play standing with a normal endpin (not an angled one), your thumb need to help your finger to get the string on the board, but use as less muscle help as possible, so do not squeeze hard.
    Higher tension strings or a high action might also need a bit of help from the thumb, but as well as less as possible.
    And better to get the most from the fingering finger and the least from the thumb.
    RattleSnack and unbrokenchain like this.
  14. RattleSnack

    RattleSnack Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2011
    Update: after my picking hand callouses got harder, I was able to practise more and am getting the hang of "left arm weight".
    Also, I lowered the strings just a little more, and playing is much easier now.
    I was asked to bring my DB to a soul band rehersal for four jazz songs, and got positive feedback from horn section, singer, piano...
    Again, thanks for all the advice.

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