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Should I or shouldn't I

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by SeaMist_au, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. SeaMist_au


    Aug 28, 2012
    I'm thinking of purchasing a double bass but I'm not sure if I am doing the right thing.
    My background:
    Many years playing the electric bass from rock & folk to jazz & fusion. But that was 24 years ago. I stopped playing because I became a TAFE teacher (that's a community college teacher) and there was no longer any time to play or to do anything else for that matter lol.
    When I stopped I was really playing Jazz & fusion and that remains my main interest to this day.
    I have now retired and last year bought an NS NXT as it seemed to be an instrument closer to a double bass than my 70s fender precision which I still adore but rarely play (it's those fret things...they get in the way). I have been relearning everything I have forgotten out of my old copies of Rufus Reid and Ray Brown and although I know the NS does not a double bass make playing it is totally different to the electric and I have tried to be faithful to the double bass fingerings foir this instrument.
    I bought a bow for arco and went to lessons pretty quickly as my playing was awful (ok it's still awful but everthing is relative lol) and he immediately latched onto my left hand like (OMG what are you doing) and I started again. There are thumb positions? Who knew? Somehow I'd totally missed that.
    So I'm slowly making progress to the point where I am wondering if if I should bite the bullet and get a proper double bass.
    I'm almost 60 years old.
    I have arthritis in both thumbs (not due to playing and playing the NXT has not made it worse....might have actually made it a bit better)
    I'm not very strong physically....like any 60 y.o. woman my body is prone to not doing what I wanted it to do lol. But I do listen to it, I don't overpractice & take plenty of breaks etc

    The thing is I love Jazz, especially latin rythms and I love that big beautiful double bass sound. But am I deluding myself that I could play "the real McCoy" without injuring myself.

    I'm seeing a Luthier next week to talk about double basses, see what they have and try few things out. That's Altier Puglisi for those in Melbourne Australia. Honestly you guys overseas are soooo spoiled for choice. We are lucky if there is one luthier available to us and they have a very limited range.

    Which gets me to two fundamantal questions.
    What should I be looking for, not so much for the bass itself but for it's playability by an ageing body and (question 2) I notice they they have a Czech Ease. I've read the reviews here and they are not entirely positive but I'm looking at it's weight.
    I would not be happy with a crap instrument period. I might be inexperienced but my musicality is quite good from past playing and a poorly playing instrument would just frustrate me.

    I guess I'm looking for something I can play, sounds great but won't kill me.

    Any advice at this point would be dearly welcomed.
  2. Hi.

    First of all, I'm a self taught hack of a DB player so take my advice that in mind :).

    If the frets are the main thing You dislike about slab basses, then a fretless would obviously be the most logical choice. Obviously ;).

    BUT, something in Your post tells me that a fretless slab wouldn't quite be what you're after, and nothing IMHO beats a DB in jazz, traditional blues, country or rock'n roll, that's for sure.

    One thing that has always baffled me with EUB's -including the NXT- is the fact that they try their darnest to be the best of both worlds, with serious shortcuts to both alternatives.

    To me it's like Gibson EB1 gets re-invented over and over again.

    The EUB's with a traditional DB neck, FB, bridge and tailpiece, but with reduced body dimensions seem to be either very rare, or unbelievably expensive. Or they look like... well... like a regular DB that had a run-in with a chainsaw ;).

    If the playability of a standard DB is to Your liking, perhaps your luthier could come up with a EUB with DB features.

    One such instrument I came across about 15 years ago on the stage I was working on, but unfortunately the brand escapes me ATM.
    The Skatalites bass player had this DB with a very slim elongated body, but with all the DB features. The tone was phenomenal, and totally free of any feedback. And they WERE LOUD.

    BTW, have You thought about other sizes than the "standard" 3/4?

    I do know that "anything less than 3/4 are for kids TB mantra" is alive and kicking, but the ease of playing and actually being able to enjoy the music should IMHO be the priority.

    The problem is that the selection of other than 3/4 sized intruments is very narrow, and their price unfortunately reflects that.

    As for Your initial question, I'd say You should.

  3. I think you should.

    You do want a 3/4, but try to find one on the small side of 3/4. Also, light weight is, in my opinion, actually a fairly good sign in a bass. Mine weighs less than 10kg, or about 14 in its gig bag, which isn't much... it's just they're so awkward to move.

    You are going to want it set up with an easy action, which is going to somewhat compromise the tone... but this is good advice for any newcomer to the instrument, you need to work up some fitness anyway.

    Lots of very small women play bass, so with an appropriate physical approach you should be able to as well. It doesn't actually take big hands or huge strength.
  4. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    There are other threads that deal w/the issue of age (fear of getting hurt) and learning the DB so you could do a search and find lots of info there. I started playing DB at 47. Age is not the primary issue for injury prevention and DB playing. There are a few things that you need to take into consideration. Overall I'ld say that being physically fit benefits all aspects of ones life. There is a long link of muscles, nerves and joints that connect you to the strings of your bass, the better these work the better comfort you will have, the better your sound will be and less likely you will get injured. Next is setting reasonable goals so that you don't over practice and create a repetitive strain injury. You will need to go slow at first limiting practice time balanced w/rest. Then comes your instrument. It needs to fit your body and feel good when you hold it and play it. Depending on how tall you are a 5/8ths size bass might be better than a 3/4. The set up is really important. You probably would like light tension strings, I don't know how to advise you in this regard, the string section will be helpful. Initially you will want a lower string height, this means you don't have to work as hard w/the left hand/fingers pressing the string to the fingerboard. The bottom line is injuries can happen because we expect more than our bodies can handle - go slow and be patient. Learning to play the DB is a beautiful process
  5. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    My $0.02:

    Go for it! Get a DB-- but read THIS first.
  6. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    You're going to appreciate the sound so much. I think that'll trump all the physical considerations.
  7. SeaMist_au


    Aug 28, 2012
    Thanks guys. I think I will *grins* but I have to admit spending this ammount of money on a musical instrument is scary. Double Bass prices are much higher in Australia for some reason that totally escapes me.
  8. You should have a pm btw
  9. SeaMist_au


    Aug 28, 2012
    I had a disappointing trip to the Luthier. I'm looking for a reasonable quality bass. He had a few low quality ones (St Antonios and a Salieri SB2) but in the mid range a choice of *one*. Yes, that's one. Oh, the next price break is $10,000 AUD. Here try this $15,000 one, it should suit you....and it did lol....but yes...thanks a lot!

    Had to laugh at the $500 bass posts. I borrowed one of his bows to check out the arco sound of the *one* I did try. It was quite nice but I checked the price of the bow as I gave it back.......$800!
  10. Bass stuff IS expensive...its worth both the time and effort to find what you're looking for and the money though.
  11. SeaMist_au


    Aug 28, 2012
    Yes, I'm getting that and my budget is more flexible than ever but I was disappointed in other ways as well.
    I asked for velvet strings from a velvet string distributor but somehow that was too much trouble. I have a bow but instead of saying 'ok we'll discount the bow' I'm told "Well you can have two bows".
    It was sort of like " you will take what we give you"....everything non negotiable. I don't get this at all. Whatever happened to customer service? To be honest I have lost faith with the local luthier.
  12. gottliver


    Dec 20, 2004
    Dont give up. Seems that every city has a luthier like that. Have you done a google search for luthiers/string shops in your area? Search as well for violin shops if you haven't already. Here in Canada most carry contrabasses as well. Good luck!!
  13. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    See a doctor about your arthritis.

    Sign up for some yoga to strengthen your body.

    Talk about options for easily playable instruments with your luthier.

    Take his advice on finding you a good teacher.

    Play as long as it makes you happy.
  14. Well, there are really good bass shops in Sydney and Auckland as well... I know that's hardly next door, but at least there are direct flights.



    I've dealt with both for little things over the years.
  15. MostlyBass


    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
  16. SeaMist_au


    Aug 28, 2012
    Thanks guys,
    Please don't think I'm giving up, I'm not. Just reviewing where I might go to purchase one and upping my budget. Sydney is definitely a possibility :)
    I'm reluctant to fly all the way to America although it's been pointed out to me I might be financially better off doing that lol.


    Dec 14, 2007
    I'm not sure where you are in Australia, but Bassworks in Adelaide might be an option. They have a number of French pattern basses, at different construction / price points, which are easier to get around, and may suit you.
    They appear to stock Velvet strings, and Peter McLachlan the owner is a well respected teacher, who could assist you getting to the right bass.
    I have not dealt with the shop, but can vouch for the set up work, on a Q bass he set up that I played.
    Good luck.
  18. Speaking as a person about your age and not in particularly great health, I would warn you to make sure that that you can comfortably hold a DB in playing position. Larger individuals tend to twist and bend forward to see the fingerboard, leaving the spine in a position that can cause problems after a long practice session. I'm told that the same problem can affect large-busted women.
  19. SeaMist_au


    Aug 28, 2012
    Thanks guys. The search is over. I went back to the luthier and the treatment was totally different. I'm getting a Jay Haide with the strings I want and setup to support my ancient body.
    Not cheap but I think it's an instrument I will be happy with.
    Thanks for all your assistance :)
  20. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Woo! That was nice and quick. Congrats.