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Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by peglegmeg, Apr 13, 2006.

  1. peglegmeg


    Mar 6, 2006
    Does anyone's bass sort of start to swing around everytime they try to shift upwards? It really bothes me and I'm trying to figure out how to fix this. Unless I place my right hand on the bass itself (which I need to bow), the bass sort of loses balance and it starts to move, and then I lose control of my left hand then it's freaking chaos.
  2. Have you tried sitting?
  3. appler

    appler Guest

    In my opinion, this is an issue that you should discuss with your teacher. There are a lot of amazing players and teachers on TalkBass but even considering all the great advice that you'll get I think that the physical approach to shifting is a topic for a teacher who is right there in the room with you watching you play. I had trouble getting the hang of shifting positions in the beginning (I think a lot of people do) and having someone next to me to physically show me how to do it was invaluable. How long have you been playing? Just curious. Perhaps you could fill out your profile before francois gets here. :D
  4. peglegmeg


    Mar 6, 2006
    I only have half hour bimonthly lessons (they seriously cost an arm and an leg. MY ARM AND MY LEG.), so there really isn't time to address all the issues that I would like to. I realize this isn't a quick fix sort of problem, but I've got auditions coming up next week and... well I need to fix it pretty quick.

    Generally, shifting isn't new to me. I'm a cello player, really, but shifting around for cello isn't a hassle by any means because you ground it while you're stiting down. I hate having to sort of support the bass with the inside of my left elbow when I'm shifting around high on the fingeboard. It's not THAT big of a problem, but it's just sort of uncomfortable and takes a little more energy to move quickly. Is there any way to solve this without having to consult my teacher?

    appler: I've been playing for maybe 1-2 years. I've been playing with a teacher for maybe 1-2 months.
  5. BGreaney

    BGreaney Guest

    Mar 7, 2005
    If I may a suggestion, since you have lessons relatively infrequently, have you considered recording your lessons? I find that when I'm listening to my lessons, although you obviously can't see what your teacher is demonstrating, what he/she is telling you will jog your memory and really do a lot to help you practice effectively in that time between lessons. Also, if that isn't a possibility, at the suggestion of my teacher I started taking notes on my lessons (things to remember, things to avoid doing..) while it was still fresh in my memory. In lieu of recording, this helps a lot too because you can refer back to it a week later when everything isn't so fresh in your head.

    In response to your question, I would say that there probably isn't any effective way for anyone to tell you how to fix something over the internet. There still won't be anyone there to tell you if you're still doing it incorrectly or not.

    Just out of curiosity, would you mind disclosing who you're taking lessons with? Also, how old are you?
  6. E.O.M.


    Dec 7, 2001
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I remember not being able to find a comfortable position on the bass while standing up for the longest time. Eventually, I just 'found it.' To me, it had to do with finding the position where the bass will not fall over if no hands are supporting it. Try to look for that balance point.

    Also, in the upper registers, I usually find myself supporting the neck of the bass with my left shoulder. This frees up the elbow for proper arm weight into the fingerboard.

    Other than that, only a teacher can help you since, as mentioned before, we can't see you.

    Good luck!
  7. I started out as a standing bassist, switched to sitting for about 7 years, and have now been playing standing for the past few years. All in all I have about 12 years of bass playing experience and I can tell you this problem is a toughie:p The best way of dealing with it I find is by "chambering" your left arm. That is, before you shift, set your arm the way it will be when you get below the shoulders of the instrument. This should allow for clearance of the shoulders (which is what I think causes most of the rocking) and it should minimize the turning of your hand as you switch to thumb position. Give it a shot. I'd recommend shifting from C on the G string to A above the octave harmonic slowly a few times to get the basic feel for it. After a time you'll find a more natural motion for your arm to be in and it'll get even easier. Also, try to feel the bass being pressed into your pelvis as you go into thumb position while keeping your left knee slightly behind the side of the bass. This should help with stability. Finally, keep your back straight! This is a bad habit I've been trying to break for years! Hunching over causes your shoulders to tense up which makes your motions more jerky which in turn moves the bass all over the place. You should be rockin out, not your bass! Good luck!
  8. ispider6


    Jan 30, 2005
    Everyone here makes some very valid points. It's a complicated thing getting your shifts to work properly as there are numerous factors involved when you shift.

    When standing, you should be able to balance the bass in the area halfway between your crotch and your pelvis. Try leaning the bass against your body at different degrees and angles until you find the best amount of lean for you and your bass. You may or may not need your left knee to assist in supporting from behind the bass. If it is properly balanced, you will not even need your left hand to keep it from tipping. Once the equilibrium is achieved, move on to the next step.

    Try shifting without using the bow at first. Since the bass is now properly balanced, you should not have to have an iron grip on the neck when you're shifting. Keeping your elbow elevated and your shoulders relaxed, the left hand should be able to glide along the neck using just enough grip to maintain contact with the string in-between the note you're coming from and the note you're shifting to. Once you have a smooth motion going, add the bow to the equation.

    Other things to think about as well are the fluidity of your motions. There shouldn't be any jerky motions when shifting. You will eventually need to learn to move your arm, shoulder, elbow, fingers and back in a harmonious way where each component works together to create a smooth shift while maintaining the least amount of tension.

    I think I've said enough for now. Obviously, it's not a simple matter executing proper shifts. As mentioned previously, you really need someone to watch what you're doing and correct it on the spot. Unfortunately, the results you're looking for are not going to happen overnight. After a lot of guidance and practice, you'll be able to shift anywhere on the instrument with ease. Hopefully some of the things I've said are helpful in some way and good luck with your audition.
  9. Anon2962


    Aug 4, 2004
    +1 for the sitting idea. And if you sit low, you can have both feet on the ground and have the bass in a semi-cello position. Ta-daa, no more bass moving.
  10. What PegLeg is describing is not a sitting vs standing problem. Standing has nothing to do with it.

    There is no way a player should have to use any part of his left arm to stabilize the bass, even when standing.

    I suggest that the problem may be mostly from improper positioning of the bass. In other words it is not balanced properly. As pointed out, the bass can literally stand up without being held. In fact I can bow all the open strings without even holding the bass with my left hand.

    But as was also said this must be addressed in person. I sugest that PegLeg spend some of the valuable lesson time, getting the basics straight.

    PegLeg, I can't believe you have been playing this long and have not addressed this issue.
  11. jmpiwonka


    Jun 11, 2002
    i pretty much only play standing. i let the basses bass side upper bout lean against my waist/hip/pelvis so it is nice and stable. if i go up to TP then the basses neck is usually leaning on my shouder just a tiny bit....the key is having hte bass lean into you so that if you take your left hand off the bass is still balanced because it is pretty much trapped in your arms and leaning on your waist or stomach or wherever is comfortable.
    i didn't do this at first and my teacher never really told me about it except when he said that the neck can rest on your shoulder if you are up in TP, i figured all this out through practice and it just kinda happened naturally.
    it works for me.
  12. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Learning to balance the bass was a tremendous help to me. Once you're comfortable with that, a lot of the other problems just seem to disappear; you automatically keep the bass upright and balanced, and sort of move arund it.
  13. EliMarcusBass


    Jul 14, 2006
    You could try sitting but I have no experience with sitting, I've been a stander since the beginning and will forever be one!!

    If your bass moves while you shift, it's probably a balance issue. In Rufus Reid's book the Evolving Bassist, he spends time discussing the importance of having balance and shows how when not being played, the bass should be balanced on its own resting against your body with no help from your hands.

    When sitting, the bass does seem to have more support but being a french bow player, sitting tends to be a little awkward.

    If you practice shifting as part of your daily practice routine your problems may be clear up because of spending individual time on that certain issue

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