Simandl? Rabbath? Vance? Reid?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Persona87, Jan 4, 2015.

  1. Persona87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    I just started playing upright about six months ago (both jazz and classical) and while I have a teacher, he's more free form and doesn't have my studying a particular method or book. I bought a copy of Simandl and Reid on my own and I've been working through Simandl, but I'm only about ten pages in. I haven't started the Reid book but I have skimmed it and it seems to be pretty jazz focused. I've also been doing some reading online about Rabbath's pivot system of fingering and Vance's modification of the Rabbath technique and infusing it with more musical etudes (which is, I have to say, a big flaw in Simandl; the etudes and exercises seem to be lacking a lot in musicality so far). I think I'd like to read more about the pivot system and maybe get a couple of the Vance books from the music store, but I thought I'd ask what the jazz world saw as generally accepted methodology. Should I finish Simandl before I give Rabbath a shot? Should I take a break and play from Reid's book for a while? Or should I just go pick up the Progressive Etudes Vol 1 by Vance tomorrow after work and five it a shot?

    In short, what is the generally accepted method book for bass players who are mostly jazz focused but have an interest in classical as well?
  2. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I think they are all sort of the same in the beginning. That is learning the basic techniques. Rabbath method 1 uses essentially the same fingering as Simandl. From method 2 and 3 the pivoting comes along but not in method 1 as I recall. I agree that the Simandl method isn't very musical but it is a good book to learn the basic positions and fingerings. From there you can go anywhere. Once learned you don't have to stick with the Simandl fingerings. You can mix it with any other system. Most jazz players are rooted in the Simandl fingerings I think. I don't know about the Vance books.
  3. I learned from Simandl at first. After I had a grasp of Simandl's positions, my Teacher introduced me to Vance's Books and pivoting. I have to say learning from Simandl helped set a solid foundation from which I can learn other methods from.

    I do have to admit while the etudes in Simandl are not that musical, it did encourage me to try and make it musical. There is this one particular etude that I grew quite fond of because I had so much fun making it musical. It was when you reached G3 with the 4th finger. That is just me though.
    threetone likes this.
  4. I started out with a teacher who was a bassist with a major orchestra. Most or all of his other students were preparing for a conservatory. We used Simandl, and my teacher was adamant that I played this curriculum only. No jazz, rock or bass guitar on the side. I thought he was very strict at the time, and that Simandl was very boring, but now I'm grateful I have this background. I know now that my teacher produced some fine jazz bassists (not me). Much later I studied with another bassist from the orchestra who was totally into Rabbath. I thought that learning Simandl first worked well and gave me a solid background.

    My first teacher was anything but freeform. Personally I would find a teacher from the local symphony orchestra if possible. I'm glad I did.
  5. PaulCannon


    Jan 24, 2002
    Frankfurt, Germany
    NS Design / AER Endorsing Artist
    The problem with any method book is that a good portion of the material will be difficult to work on without a teacher who can adequately explain and demonstrate the given concepts. This is particularly true for Rabbath's books. His best material is original and really innovative, but most teachers will be unfamiliar and possibly hostile to it.

    I don't know Rufus Reid's book, but I know he considers himself a student of Rabbath and his material probably reflects that. George Vance was also a Rabbath student. The Vance method was essentially designed as an alternative to Suzuki and is meant to lead naturally to Rabbath's first volume. Most of the songs are typical fare for young student methods, but the concepts are excellently framed and offered in bite-sized chunks.

    Don't think of any method book as some kind of textbook or user's manual. It's better to use them as a point of reference for self-study and, more importantly, a starting point for a focused lesson with an appropriate teacher.

    My advice? Find a player or teacher you respect who has the time and tools available to teach you properly. If you're interested in Rabbath, find someone who has some background with those techniques.
    robgrow likes this.
  6. I am a beginning bass player and was wondering if anyone
    I have been reading all the threads about Simandl and really appreciate all the comments and recommendations. I am self teaching myself and have found Siimandl to be a great book to practice with. I have both versions Sankey and Zimmerman do you have any recommendation of one over the other? Thanks
  7. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Vance is very musical. It also starts you in the heel of the neck, which is easier for a lot of beginners. You'll get results that are more pleasant to listen to quicker. That being said, the heavy lifting in Rabbath1/ Simandl is absolutely necessary. Note- *heavy* lifting. 1/2 position and 1st position mastery is at the core of everything we are asked to do as jazz bassists.
  8. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
    Personally, I prefer Sankey. The layout is cleaner, and the progression makes more sense to me. If I were fluent in Japanese, I'd be apt to feel differently.
  9. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    I worked through a good part of the Sankey Simandl book. My teacher edited the bowing and fingering of almost every exercise. It probably could do w/a more modern revision.