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Teaching Online (Skype)

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Ranjith Hegde, Oct 23, 2015.

  1. Ranjith Hegde

    Ranjith Hegde

    Oct 20, 2015
    I am new to TalkBass. So I am unaware if there is a separate thread where one looks for a teacher. So here I make my post.
    I am Ranjith from India. I recently got a custom made violin. It has 7 strings. Along with the standard EADG it also has C F and Bb. The low Bb being just a tritone higher than the lowest note E on a standard bass.
    I have been teaching myself to use this instrument as a bass with the lower strings. I have managed arco and left hand techniques, since its mostly similar to a violin, just fatter strings and lower register notes.
    I am also trying to play pizzicato. Trying to mimic or transfer skills from upright bass (right hand). And that is where I am stuck. I am clueless as to how to start practicing towards it. I did some looking up on tubes and other similar video sites and it did not help very much.
    So I would very much like to find an Upright Bass player and take lessons from her/him.
    And since there are a handful of upright players in India, a good portion of them switching either from cello or from electric guitar to upright, to meet the needs of the industry, they are not the ideal to go to for lessons.
    Could someone from here be willing to give me lessons on Skype?
    Please let me know.
  2. dc-upright


    Mar 31, 2013
    Fab Superlative likes this.
  3. Ranjith Hegde

    Ranjith Hegde

    Oct 20, 2015
  4. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    Fab Superlative likes this.
  5. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    How big is this "violin"? Does it have a standard violin string length of about 32cm? Is it longer like a viola? Is it held horizontally like a violin, or vertically like a cello or bass? If you are using a bow, what instrument was the bow intended to be used with? Is it an electric/amplified instrument?

    Depending on your answers you could have very mixed success with a double bassist as a teacher. If it is essentially a violin with some extra strings, the technique required would be very different than that of a double bass, and you might benefit significantly more from a violinist or violist as a teacher. If it is larger or held vertically like a cello or a bass, then a bassist could be an appropriate option. When it comes to the right hand, the string length and orientation of the instrument will have a significant impact on what would be appropriate technique and there is a possibility that double bass technique isn't your best option.

    Some lessons from the right bassist would be beneficial in discussing time feel, harmonic/melodic options when reading chord changes, and a number of other musical aspects, but without knowing a bit more I wouldn't necessarily recommend a bassist for technique.
  6. Ranjith Hegde

    Ranjith Hegde

    Oct 20, 2015
    Thanks for your post. I would definitely benefit from having lessons from a bassist to better understand time feel, building bass lines and interpreting chords the way a bass player does. As I am used to playing violin, the way I have been taught to look at those things can be very different. Or so I believe.

    The instrument is standard violin length, standard string length (32cm), wider fingerboard to accommodate 7 strings and fatter strings for the lower register. It is a solid body electric instrument.
    When I use the bow, it functions like a violin. I use a viola bow with cello rosin to bow the lower register strings. With minor tweaks and improvements in my bowing style and technique, I can play with the bow to draw out sounds nearly as rich as an electric cello or an electric upright

    When I pluck, I sit, keep the violin upright, it starts on my thigh and goes a little above my shoulders.
    I cannot hold it in a position similar to a banjo or a mandolin because plucking with my finger tips does not give any depth to the sound the way it would to a guitar etc.. and I cannot get any sustain using fingertips. Thumb can do it all but it has all the limitations of using just one finger.

    Plucking with the side of my fingers similar to upright is the only way I have discovered so far that can produce a decent and grounded tone with some sustain. I have to be careful in optimising my arm weight while plucking as higher weight can distort the sound or buzz way more than whats considered desirable.
    Hence I thought going to an upright bass player might be appropriate. I believe a lot of adjustments will have to be made to the DB technique to work on my instrument but it could probably be worked out in time.
  7. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    One of the reasons I encourage bassists to pursue a harmonic instrument and a melody instrument or an instrument that can do both such as piano or guitar, is so they can see how everyone else approaches the music. If you play a harmonic instrument especially in genres without written parts, how you voice chords plays a large part in how you shape the music you are playing. Likewise, the rhythm you use to convey those chords can have a very large impact. If you play a melody instrument, a lot of what you do is "above" the harmony so you can play off of it instead of establishing it. When a horn player takes a solo, they have bass and rhythm behind them. When a bassist takes a solo in jazz, he's lucky to have the high hats still going. It sounds like this instrument has the possibility of playing a few different roles, and given that it is unconventional by nature you aren't necessarily going to be confined to any one in particular.

    With it essentially being an extended range violin under the bow, your modified violin technique is going to be your best bet there. Some 5 string violin players use viola bows or find the rare in between bow that's around 65 grams. Some violists in pit orchestras where space is an issue use light cello bows, which might be another option. If you've got something that works for you, then stick with it.

    Pizz/Pluck technique is going to be a challenge. While electric basses function quite well with the fingertips, they also have a significantly longer string length to work with. The U-bass also works that way and would be similar in scale, but the strings would be completely different. You might find that you actually have some luck with a pick, as a company called Wedgie makes a rubber guitar pick that has the benefit of a fatter attack.

    Many beginning double bass students, or people who come to double bass from different instruments often find that they have to play much harder than anticipated on double bass. A strong attack on an electric bass is pretty wimpy on a double bass for example. That might not be the case with your instrument, especially if you are experiencing distortion and buzz. More contact with the string can give a different sound as you are discovering with the side of your finger.

    Do you adjust the EQ/amplifier between playing with the bow and playing pizz? Some electric instruments have a "arco/pizz" switch that alters the EQ settings to give something more desirable for one or the other. Some electric players use a pre-amp that they can adjust the settings on, an EQ pedal they can preset two separate tones in, or a volume pedal. You might find that a bump in volume from what you need for the bow helps to give a better pizz sound, or you need to roll out a problematic frequency.

    deVah quartet The Devah Quartet is an electric string quartet from Toronto, Canada. Two of them play 5 string violins, and they have really done a lot of work experimenting with various effects and amplification combinations. I know they have done workshops with school strings programs in the past and they are all exceptionally well trained classical musicians as well. I would try getting in touch with them and seeing if one of them would be interested in teaching Skype lessons, or if they would have some suggestions for the electronics side of things which is likely a significant part of obtaining the sound you are looking for. A bassist could offer some great advice on a few different fronts, but this could give you another piece or two of the puzzle as well.
    Fab Superlative and Tom Lane like this.
  8. Ranjith Hegde

    Ranjith Hegde

    Oct 20, 2015
    You are right about the instrument being able to play many different roles. I have previously practiced many forms of voicing on keyboards, but the challenge is finding the appropriate chordal voicings that work well on this instrument both technically and musically. Since its tuned in fifths its hard to voice extended harmonies.
    I previously had the luxury of making fancy voicings by leaving the roots and/or fifths to the bass player and playing "above" the harmony as you mentioned. But now that I am starting to learn/construct bass lines its hard to stop avoid the tendency to play the upper harmonies or melodies.

    The smaller length of the strings is nearly not effecting as much as I had previously thought it would. Windings on the lower strings are too thick .Hence using a pick is giving me volume but not the tone I get from the side of the fingers. I believe it is just a matter of balancing the pressure and force accordingly, which might probably take years to find the sweet spot. The bridge is slightly higher than on the regular violin, so the strings are much higher from the fingerboard, which gives me room to pluck away.

    I am very new to amplifiers and equalisers and electric instrument gear in general. I am slowly figuring out the different settings in gain for bowing and plucking. I have been able to find and attenuate some problematic higher mid range frequencies but it will be a while before I can make any usable changes towards tone shaping through EQ.

    Thanks for suggesting deVah quartet. I will also try to reach them for some advice on the electronic side of the instrument. I have found an upright bass player who is willing to see if we can work something out.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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