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Starting on Double Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Bassplayer425, Nov 13, 2010.

  1. Bassplayer425


    Nov 9, 2010
    So, I have been playing viola in orchestra for many years, my High School Orchestra. I'm in Philharmonic, which is the second highest orchestra, and recently I told my orchestra teacher I want to switch to bass, b/c I really like bass, the sound, and I've played a little bit of Electric bass, and I love its role in the orchestra as well. So basically, and I most likely can't get a double bass before Monday, my orchestra teacher is going to give me a bass on Monday, which I can only use in class, and I'm wondering, is there any way I can get ready for it? Would having some experience with viola help me play bass perhaps? And will my orchestra teacher probably give me a cheat sheet for playing that day, because I'm going to hopefully start lessons this week, so very soon?
  2. Brunot


    Oct 29, 2010
    My friend was playing violin for 8th year, then he switched to double bass at conservatory. He said that he used some knowledge from violin, however, he said it was a fresh start more ;)
  3. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Find somebody who can give you a few lessons right away. Pronto.

    But there are some significant differences in fingering and how you hold the bow. These are worth researching, but to give you a glimpse:

    You're accustomed to playing with all 4 fingers on the left hand, and altering the spacing between those fingers as needed. On bass, you only use fingers 1, 2, and 4 in the lower registers, and they are always spaced 1/2 step apart. Your hand is also more perpendicular to the neck. Learning the correct hand position is vital to avoiding injury, so it's not something you can put off.

    Bow hold is different too, but I think that at least your viola hold is survivable until you can get some instruction, even if not optimal.

    Once you get used to playing the bass, you have to be careful not to step on or otherwise damage the smaller instruments of the orchestra. Try to maintain a grim expression, except when the cellos make a mistake. And pretend to watch the conductor, as a courtesy. :D
  4. Learn the bass clef, firstly.

    Get used to playing with first, second and fourth fingers only. Try exercises like squeezing your first, second and fourth fingers in sequence while avoiding the third. Use a pencil or something else straight to do this.

    Learn how to stand. This is stupid thing to say, honestly, but it's true. Learn how to balance your weight across both feet and get used to standing for long periods of time when practicing. I stand up most of the day--walking in and out of classes, standing up and going up to the board. I may only sit down twenty minutes out of a 44 minute class, so it takes a bit to get your legs used to standing for the entirety of an orchestra rehearsal. You can always use a stool but honestly I don't like sitting when I play. I feel lazy and I play worse in consequence. This may not be a problem for you, but it was one for me when I started playing. Then again, our orchestra teacher never gave us stools until High School, so.

    Get used to moving your shoulders. The bowing on the viola and bass are done very differently, and you'll need to get used to the bass bowing technique some time or another.

    Other than that, be prepared to work. That's the most important one. Be prepared to devote a lot of time and effort into the instrument and don't get discouraged.
  5. Bassplayer425


    Nov 9, 2010
    well, I have been playing bass and taking lessons for a month now. And my teacher says I'm doing very good. I am using a german bow hold, with a German bow of course, and I am getting familiar with the notes, their positions on the staff lines, how the notes progress, etc. My question is, where do I go from here? I know keep learning of course, and taking lessons. But I have an electric bass at home. Should I learn some of that? Expand my knowledge of bass? Any suggestions would be helpful and appreciated.
  6. Learn everything you can. Do remember that electric bass is a different instrument, though. Somewhat related musically, but not technique-wise.

    Learn music theory, it's much more useful to bass players.
  7. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    To put it bluntly, if you have a good teacher, then he/she holds the answer to your question-- not a bunch of players on the other side of cyberspace. Your teacher is the one who knows you, your abilities, your progress, and where you are in the scheme of things. If, for some reason, you don't have faith in the expertise of your teacher or you find his/her instruction lacking, then find another teacher.

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