Starting to play DB on the cheap, injury-free

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by oink, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. Not a hope!

  2. Yes but only if [advice]

  3. Probably but you’re taking chances

  4. Sure

  1. oink


    Aug 17, 2012
    Dublin, Ireland
    Good morning learned folks of TB. I need your advice.

    I want a double-bass, real bad. Plan A is to save for 3-5 years for a decent beginner one (1500$) and regular lessons, and not learn in the mean time.

    Plan B is to wait a few months, buy a bottom-of-the-barrel Thomann DB (600$), spend the rest on 5-10 lessons with a good teacher, and then learn online.

    If those 5-10 lessons are heavily focused on posture, hand position etc, do you think I will learn enough to avoid injuries while teaching myself later? Or am I dreaming?

    I doubt if you can really teach yourself to play with a bow so I guess I’ll play pizz.

    Thanks all!
  2. Dabndug

    Dabndug Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2017
    Somewhere in Oz
    Plan A all the way! The difference between a $600 bass and $1500 bass can be monumental, and you will need to spend up to have a $600 set up to be playable in any event.
    oink likes this.
  3. As you progress, new questions will arise. It is impossible to solve problems in advance for the first 5-10 lessons. Problems with posture and injuries occur even among experienced players.
    Do you want a double bass or do you want to play it? Perhaps the best plan will be C: find a teacher and spend money on their studies.
    oink likes this.
  4. rgull


    Feb 14, 2015
    NW Italy
    There is a plan D too: take lessons and rent a bass: in a few months you will be able to know if you are comfortable and want to own a bass or just leave
    Hoyt, JeffKissell, donotfret and 14 others like this.
  5. oink


    Aug 17, 2012
    Dublin, Ireland
    Thanks all, I appreciate your input. It doesn’t look like nothing much is going to happen without a bigger budget. Unless I can find a decent one to rent and spend money on lessons instead.
  6. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California

    I'd say get started while you have strong enthusiasm. And don't let DB ownership be your waiting point. A lot can happen while waiting for 3-5 years. If you're renting for 3-5 years, you can be making huge progress with lessons and with skills, and you can also be targeting yourself for the purchase of a potential life-time double bass.
    Hoyt, JeffKissell and oink like this.
  7. wjl


    Jul 18, 2017
    near Frankfurt, Germany
    endorsing nothing except maybe free and open source stuff, like Linux
    I talked to a local teacher, and her advice was: take lessons and rent a bass for at least half a year. After this you'll know if you want to proceed, and what you should invest in a good DB.
    salcott and oink like this.
  8. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    So far I'm the only one who voted "Yes, but only if [advice]."

    Perhaps it's because I never had a single lesson in double bass or bass guitar, and I've had a moderately-successful run over almost 50 years. Other than right-hand blisters, I've never injured myself from playing.
    That said, there are "holes" in my technique: This past week I had an epiphany regarding how much easier the left hand becomes when I keep my elbow up! Beginner stuff. So, subjectively, I think the issue is not so much injury as proper technique - learning it from the start so you don't have to unlearn bad habits later.

    But I came to double bass already proficient on bass guitar, so knowledge of scales and harmony was already there. You didn't say whether you already have some skills on other instruments, like guitar, bass guitar, or piano, or whether you would have to start from ground zero musically.

    I'll add my +1 for renting and lessons for awhile.
    Eric Hochberg, oink and dhergert like this.
  9. oink


    Aug 17, 2012
    Dublin, Ireland
    Thank you all. I have contacted the nearest school to see if they rent out instruments. Be still my beating heart.

    @AGCurry: I used to play guitar and bass before the kids showed up... Also, I know enough theory to annoy your average amateur rock guitarist. I’m fairly confident I’d be able to have long-term (if low-skill) fun on the double-bass if I could just dodge carpal tunnel syndrome :)
    AGCurry likes this.
  10. dan1952

    dan1952 Commercial User

    Jun 27, 2012
    Anderson IN
    Artist Endorsement with Supro Huntington Basses / Owner, Dan's Music, Inc..
    Take some lessons on a rented bass for 6 months or so. I had a Kay that I used while taking lessons, but the basses in the rehearsal room at Ball State were SO much better than the Kay I had (which also needed set up in the worst way) that I was discouraged from continuing at the time. The Hofner-built laminate bass I own now is a lot better to start with, and I've learned how to do set up work, and it plays so much better, that it's a lot more fun to play.
    BTW, the italics came on by itself, no significance there at all.
    Buy a good bass from a good shop, it's worth the money to do so.
    oink likes this.
  11. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    ... And btw, you can teach yourself to bow, but a good teacher can teach you usually much better, usually in much less time. Life is short, and btw, many teachers start with the bow, it encourages better intonation practice.
    dan1952, unbrokenchain and oink like this.
  12. unbrokenchain

    unbrokenchain Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Black Mountain, NC
    I'm mostly self taught, had two semesters of lessons in college that were challenging, and a few one-offs since then, but honestly never really had instruction in body posture and hand technique beyond 1-2-4, also zero arco. Never thought I would need or want to play with a bow. I did end up with a left hand injury from bad technique and it was a real bummer. Managed to get past it and learned better technique for myself, and now am absolutely loving playing with the bow, it's 95% of what I do at home (though like 1% of what I do professionally..). I'm happy to be where I'm at, but I'm absolutely sure I'd be further along if I had gotten more formal training in the fundamentals instead of having to undo bad habits.
    oink, dhergert, marcox and 1 other person like this.
  13. unbrokenchain

    unbrokenchain Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Black Mountain, NC
    Also, it's not a path for everyone, but if you have the motor skills, attention span, and access to tools to learn to repair and setup your instrument properly, you can save a lot of money. Cheap basses can be good learning tools in that way. It's also a great way of gaining an understanding of how the instrument works and allowed me to get into an instrument when I was a totally broke college student and just wanted something that wasn't owned by the school. Condino's words when I got it were something like "it's not a great bass, but it can pay for your next bass.." Wise words.
    oink likes this.
  14. sean_on_bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    This is what i would choose. Rent a bass and take lessons. Alot of shops will let you build store credit with the monthly rental fee that can eventually go toward your own bass. As for playing pain free, lessons will help, but it requires life long reinforcement. You may find yourself going back for lessons from time to time as you run into brick walls with your playing.
  15. ctrlzjones


    Jul 11, 2013
    ... depending on where you want to go there may be a lot of stuff one can deal with in order to move (a lot) faster later on - ear training, functional harmony, rhythm ... You may want to get a keyboard ...
    oink likes this.
  16. Stewie

    Stewie Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    My cheap, piece of junk Chinese no name bass sounds great, but it isn't loud. If you buy a cheapie, you can sell it quick when you upgrade. So far, I'm hanging onto mine because I kinda like it, and it's handy to have one in the basement and one in the living room
    oink likes this.
  17. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    I vote for renting and taking lessons. Find the teacher, ask them French or German, and get a cheap bow with the rental. Take standard lessons using a standard method. Yes, yes, yes, we all know about so-and-so the famous player who's totally self-taught, but there's a reason the standard methods and standard instruction are standard; they work fast and effectively to give beginners a basic solid grounding in the mechanics of playing the instrument. As someone who is formally trained on three instruments (piano, flute, and double bass) and self-taught on one (saxophone) - trust me, you will go much further much faster with traditional methods.

    At this point, you have absolutely no clue what you want or like in a double bass instrument. You will need to be able to play the bass before you can make that choice. It is not like guitar where you can go to Guitar Center and buy a $250 Yamaha acoustic dreadnought and be pretty well assured it's a reasonable quality instrument that will be suitable.
    oink likes this.
  18. DaDo625

    DaDo625 Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2017
    Subscribed to this thread...
    And a shout out and thank you to the OP and all of the responders.
    I have been thinking and researching this topic over the last few weeks.
    Playing EB for three years, late in life start.

    Watching TV with the better half a few weeks ago and when a DB is on she says: "you could do that, right? and you don't have to have the amp?"
    My response was:
    I would like to try it..
    Yes it is a Bass, but it is not the same as EB - you play the piano, can you play an accordion?

    And for the record, I am going down the "rent one and take lessons" path. I started EB with an instructor and it went well.
    oink, AGCurry and dhergert like this.
  19. s0707


    Jun 17, 2015
    One more suggestion: if you don't have one, buy a tall mirror. That way you can observe your posture, your arm, your wrist, your plucking hand, etc. while you play. I'm also a beginner and getting a mirror was really good for me. Recording yourself is another good idea (with a smart phone, for example).
    oink, DaDo625, AGCurry and 1 other person like this.
  20. wjl


    Jul 18, 2017
    near Frankfurt, Germany
    endorsing nothing except maybe free and open source stuff, like Linux
    Or with a decent large diaphragm condenser mic into your audio interface and DAW with a little bit of compression. :)

    Of course your listeners won't have the vibes that *you* can feel from the instrument, but they'll still melt away for that heavy, deep, dark, wooden sound...

    Sorry, got carried away - this was about posture. Well a camera on a tripod and said microphone would do a nice job me thinks... :thumbsup:
    oink likes this.