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Should a upright player get experience on the bass guitar?

Discussion in 'Ask Lynn Seaton' started by Mathewmiller, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. Mathewmiller


    Jan 17, 2014

    I am a current upright student who at the moment is in collage for jazz performance. I have been playing upright for about 3 years and came from playing the bass guitar (though I never really had much experience) I was wondering if you think it is a good idea to invest some time in playing my bass guitar of keep my focus on only practicing my upright. If it is a good idea to keep on the bass guitar would you subject getting a fret less bass? Would that be easer for an upright player, if so what would you recommend. My bass guitar is a fender jazz bass. I really don't want to put time into playing the electric bass, however if it is an importing skill to have I want to start my practice now.

    Mat miller
  2. Nick303


    Jun 9, 2013
    It's a strange question to ask, but it implies you think it's important. So I think you should, yes. It would make you a very enviable addition to any ensemble. Electric bass has been a key part of the jazz story for 50 years or so, so why limit yourself?
    I'd love to get experience on an upright, but I don't know whether I could manage it. I have a fretless jazz, but it seems a world away from an upright!
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I REALLY hope you're typing with your thumbs.

    Anyway, that's a question only you can answer. Certainly as a tool of commerce, playing bass guitar as well as double bass can make pretty much every gig a viable one. and that goes for bass guitarists who are thinking about playing double bass. If you are in music because the making a living part is more important to you than the only playing music I want to play part, then it would be a smart decision to double. It would be a smarter decision to learn to play piano and sing, because then you can work as a single.

    For me, I started playing bass guitar and came to double bass much later. But DB became the predominant way I heard my "voice" in the music, so I only play that now.
    There's plenty of bassists on either instrument that make a living playing just that instrument. There's plenty who do it by playing both. Opt for what brings you the most joy.
  4. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    Most working bassists double at some point in their careers if not for the duration of their life. I started on upright but added the electric soon after so I could play different styles of music where the sound of the electric was needed and wanted. These days I focus on upright. There was a period (a long time ago) that I only gigged on electric for about a year. Being able to play both has given me opportunities to be in ensembles where they needed certain things. Having a large palette of sounds, styles, and abilities gives one the tools to fulfill the requirements of many jobs where someone needs a bassist to fulfill their vision. Sometimes we get lucky and get hired to bring our vision to the bandstand and share it. It is one thing to get a call from someone saying "I need a bassist for my gig that can do ....". It is very different to get a call from someone saying "I need YOU for my gig.." and they expect you to bring YOUR vision to the bandstand.
    If you want to do both, go for it!