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Tape on neck?

Discussion in 'Double Bass Pedagogy [DB]' started by Steve Freides, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    How do y'all feel about putting tape on the neck for new students?

    I've never done it but most of my kids who play in school come back with tape on their instruments, usually a virtual fret numbers 2, 4, 5, and 7 (notes A, B, C, and D on the first string.


  2. Not into it. I try to get rid of it when I can. I have let them keep it on D because a lot of music kids play at school needs that note.
  3. DC Bass

    DC Bass Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    Washington DC
    Great topic Steve!

    I'm not a fan, as they shouldn't be looking there (at the neck) anyway- but I have never insisted that a student remove then either. Ear training is the key to helping them realize that they don't need markers in the first place...that, and a good, solid positional based training method- I like Simandl- ymmv.

    Damon, I find it interesting that you would allow a mark at the D, as there are two really good ready references there- the neck heel break ("D" neck) and the matching harmonic- not to mention the octave of the open D... I am most likely to relax my stance for a mark to designate the G on the E string. I've found that locating the G on the E string and C on the A string can be quite challenging for some students!

    Of course, it depends on the student. I try not to be a hard ass with the youngins- I use lots of positive reinforcement and try to set them up to succeed- but I tell ya what, if all else fails and it looks like markers will help- I say, "Get out the tape!" :)

    Older students don't get as much latitude!

  4. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    I like to think of the markers as part of the ear training. Not everyone has the innate ability to sense when notes are in tune, so the markers, in a sense, train the ear by, hopefully, being in tune and re-enforcing intonation. I don't usually start raw beginners, but, like Steve says, they come from school programs with the tape on. As soon as I'm confident they're "getting it", and understand note relationships, the tape comes off.
  5. It is just for orchestra kids, they often have to play pieces in D before we can really address shifting! I have a small mark on G on the E string that I am not afraid to use!
  6. denhou1974


    Mar 6, 2008
    My daughter tried this with her piano. She taped all the notes on the keys. I took it off because I didn't want her using it as a crutch. She ended up learning faster and she spends her time looking at the music rather than the keys.
  7. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    One thing I have been doing more and more of, although not yet with my upright students, is making recordings of their pieces with a metronome playing audibly. It can be very useful to have a recording at an appropriate tempo they can practice with.

    I have taken to making these recordings during their lessons - it's for them, after all - and then converting the .wav files to .mp3 and emailing on my own time.

    Anyone else doing this?

  8. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Not yet, but sounds like a great idea.
  9. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    I started doing this because I started using rounds with my students, e.g., the very popular Christmas round, "Dona Nobis Pacem." I recorded it, sent it to their parents, with instructions to play along _with_ the recording, and then to try being part #2 to the recording's part #1. At our lessons, we'd play the recording, letting it be part #1, and I'd play part #2 with my stduents and, when that was going well, then we'd make it into a 3-part round - the recording, my student, and me.

    It's a wonderful teaching device for introducing the idea of holding your own part while listening to others - the learning curve is greatly shortened by the fact that it's a round.

    I will post a few recordings, at different tempi, and a PDF of the music for "Dona Nobis Pacem" as soon as I can make the time, hopefully within the next few days. It's very nice in the key of D, plays completely in the first position

  10. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    Here's a PDF - not completely sure I like the bowings but comments are invited.


    Attached Files:

  11. Used to have a different opinion but now that I am teaching my son I realised that tape, pencil marks, white out, even dots all good, basically whatever to get him to get a reasonably good intonation so he can enjoy jamming! It is hard work at the beginning for a pupil but well worth it! As I say to my boy be a DB player or play a plastic recorder, be plumber or concreter as long as ya don't bring no sissy slab bass guitar into my home!
  12. Just starting DB myself. (30 years on BG.) The bass I'm renting has tape on the neck, and I think I'll be removing it. As a personal choice, I'd rather concentrate on muscle memory and my ears.
  13. Art Vandelay

    Art Vandelay

    May 9, 2011
    I'd be very strongly against visual aids on the bass. What are we hoping to achieve by them? Good intonation is based on using our ears, not some kind of point-and-shoot system. Developing the accuracy of ear-hand co-ordination is key. If we don't use a method of getting around the bass with accuracy without watching the left hand, then something is very wrong with the method!

    I played for many years without a way of finding notes with accuracy after quick, long shifts, or in situations where you don't have much time to prepare a note. Once I was taught a system that worked, everything became so much easier - and tape or markings just made no sense.
  14. Basic satisfaction!! My first teacher at 13 was a hardcore nazi completely failed to acknowledge or understand that while my friends were playing football having fun I wanted to have fun too studying DB. Noticed my pencilmarks on the side of the fingerboard told me off, even ridiculed me, lucky for him that I was too young to brake his fingers I started to look for marks on the neck, like GPS, I used them for perfect intonation. As my fingers gained muscle memory after while, I didn't need to look anymore. At 14 I was playing in a rockabilly band with much older cats simple 1-4-5 and it was fun
    30 years later I am repeating that idiot telling student to use their ears and the rest of the bulldust!! Recently my boy said "stuff it, it's no fun" then I remembered my ordeal. Let the kids have fun whatever it takes at first!!! What we achieve???? They go home happy, they come back happy thinking that its not a futile exercise. If you have students but not yet understand that the first few months shouldnt be so serious then you need to sit back and reflect. My first teacher also had no clue and nearly lost me. Thank God I had the urge to play for some reason. Glad my level of understanding is better than a year ago thank to the honesty of a kid!!!!
  15. twhitedc

    twhitedc Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2011
    For, or from a slightly different perspective, I have used electrical tape on my mexi -p in the past. I was playing in a lot of basements and halls all of which were regularly dimly lit, which is an exaggeration. I found that the contrast of Black tape on the light neck was the only thing that I could see when I needed to take a look. So while I wouldn't tape a nicer instrument, I have used tape in a functional application.
  16. what the pluck

    what the pluck

    Oct 13, 2010
    Just a thought on markers. I'm wondering if something stuck on the back of the neck like the size if a thumb tack (please dont stick a thumb tack in your neck!) to make a little bump at strategic positions where the thumb should be for problem notes might be a better idea. That way there's no looking at fingers. On second thought it would limit fingering possibilities and would probably only be good in the lower positions.
  17. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    I had a friend who used those hole strengthening stickers (for looseleaf paper) for this. just big enough to feel, generally innocuous, and eventually they wore off, at which point he knew where his thumb needed to be.

  18. MostlyBass

    MostlyBass Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    This is quite the topic. I've gone back and forth over the years. I do what is right for the student to create accurate shifts that do not require corrections.

    However, many pros use markers - Edgar Meyer has dots on his fingerboard and many orchestral players have inlays on the side of the fingerboard where only they can see it.

    I currently have a few spots in thumb position marked with dark nail polish.

    For actual materials - car pinstriping works best. I've also used pencil (rubs off quickly which can be good and bad), and white-out.
  19. Guinny


    Mar 24, 2013
    I marked my neck. The G on the E string is one. The neck heel actually has a little notch which is worn out. Whenever I play another bass I miss that notch. My intonation is always off a little for the first couple of minutes when it's not my own instrument. It's like parallel parking in a car. If it's your car, you'll be fine, if it's not, you'll need to use a visual aid in your mirror to do it.
  20. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I've found that a paint pen works great to mark the fingerboard. I just had some dark colors lying around and use a blue one - better than white out. Harder to spot from a distance and it just gets you in the ballpark. Intonation by ear is still critical - it's just an aid. After a while I stop looking for it unless I'm totally off.

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