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TONE - is the primary - "only" reason you play Double Bass?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Bruce Lindfield, Apr 25, 2006.

  1. Yes - I am a tone junkie and can't bear to listen to anything else but acoustic DB!! :hmm::hmm:

  2. Tone is the primary reason - but there are others - (please specify in thread)!

  3. It's mostly tone and "happy accident" or circumstances etc.

  4. Tone is one of the reasons but not the main one - please specify others in thread...

  5. Tone is a minor part of why I play DB.

  6. I don't care about tone at all - the instrument is irrelevant to me, I'll play anything!

  7. Tone - what's that!!??

  8. Carrots

  1. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    As a recent convert who has always loved the sound of Double Bass, but was daunted by the difficulty for 30 years - I wondered why others choose to play this difficult instrument?

    So is it just the tone - as it is for me - or are there other reasons why .....?
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Coming over from piano but also with a background in classical guitar, tone was a big part of the reason, but not all of it. Some of the other reasons:

    The role of the instrument: The longer I played piano, the more I realized the degree to which the bassist is in a position to contribute to the overall quality of the ensemble sound. If the bassist just thumps repetitive quarter note lines, that's one thing. But when the bass develops a melodic/countermelodic voice of its own in the ensemble, the group really comes alive.

    Portability (funny enough): As a pianist, I found myself more and more having to take an electronic instrument to gigs while everyone else got to take an acoustic axe. I love the sound of an acoustic ensemble, as I feel it's more "organic". You can never take an acoustic piano out to a gig. A DB, on the other hand...

    Physicality of the instrument: I love the way it feels to play the DB. It's an incredibly vibrant and sensual physical feeling to feel all those vibrations coming through the instrument, and it seems to encourage a deeper connection to the nuances of the music.

    There's more, but that's a good start.
  3. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    For me, it's an almost purely physical relationship. The tone of the instrument simply can't be replicated by anything else that I've heard, not even the best sampling on the planet captures it.
    But I'm a selfish bastard, and I love playing it because of the feel of the strings, the smell of wood coming off my fingerboard, the fact that I have to "dance" with it to play properly, shoot, I could go on for days. It's just physically self-indulgent for me to play. Kind of like standing right next to the subs at a concert, and having physical control of every minute vibration coming from them at the same time, if that makes any sense.

    Lately, though, I'm starting to notice the portability (take it out of its bag, and GO!), and I'm starting to appreciate the respect I get from playing one. EB players are looked at as a dime a dozen, but a DB player commands some respect, by which I mean appreciation and money ;)
  4. Even though I'm just starting out, I find the DB more comfortable than the EBG for a few reasons. First, the weight of the instrument is on the floor rather than on my shoulder. Second, in order to play EBG, I have to reach with my hands farther outside of my power zone to get lower on the neck. Also, the bow doesn't sound as good on an EBG :p

  5. Andy Allen

    Andy Allen "Working Bassist"

    Aug 31, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Well said - I love playing something that makes it's own sound. As a child I played piano, classical guitar and bassoon (not all at once :rolleyes: ), but when as a teen I started playing in bands there was no place for these acoustic instruments. Electric bass was a good compromise, since through a good rig you can still feel it as you play. But once I was able to invest the time and money to study DB I was really hooked. There's nothing like being able to make that great sound happen with just one's hands, a good instrument and playing skill (such that I have).
  6. Bellbass

    Bellbass Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2004
    Montreal, Canada
    After playing EB for 25 years, I needed a new start, something that could open up my horizons and keep me inspired. Being self-taught (and having played more than learn), I felt imprisoned in my bass playing. Coming mainly from a rock/fusion background I never imagined having access to classical music and maybe, if I work hard enough, playing in an orchestra. And it's so true that nothing compares to playing something that makes it's own sound. And as a side effect, DB has brought me back to a more focused playing on the electric.

    - Charles
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I don't think I chose bass at all, but rather it chose me. I love to play music and bass just happens to be my instrument. Now, that said, with the bass in my hand I have to get a good sound, play in tune, groove, be melodic and musical. On these I obsess.

    I chose 'Carrots' as it was as close as any other stock answer in the poll.
  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    What Ray said. The instrument picks you.
  9. RD


    Jun 17, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Yes, the tone of the URB rules! But, at times, I still hear the sound of Dunn or Jamerson in my head.
  10. Feel and the other sounds I can get out of it, such as clicks from slapping. Plus, it just feels better in my hands and I like the way it's played and the type of music I play on it.

    And I can hide bodies in the case if need be. Try getting a person into a BG bag, not happening.
  11. jtlownds


    Oct 3, 2004
    LaBelle, FL
    Even as a little kid, I was fascinated with the bottom end. I just loved the sound of the bass driving the band on radio and juke boxes. Back when I started, if you wanted to play the bass line, you had two choices. Either take up tuba or double bass. There were no slabs back then. So thats what I did.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I suppose I wasn't really asking why you started - but rather why you continue to play a difficult instrument like DB , when you could play EUB, BG etc.....?
  13. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I don't consider it difficult. It's much more difficult for me to make music on a bass guitar or an EUB. Double bass is my voice, and it found me.
  14. +1. My feelings exactly. What ultimately matters, in my opinion, is the ability to achieve a certain "connection" to the music. Good tone is certainly important, but it's only a part of a greater skill. In my personal case, the double bass is the instrument that gets the least in my way when attempting to make music. So I took the easy way out, and chose to play the double bass exclusively.
  15. Anon2962


    Aug 4, 2004
    What exactly do you mean by 'tone'? Do you mean the range of sounds of the double bass?
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yes, of course!!

    I suppose you should have ticked the last option I included - soemeone else added carrots!! ;)
  17. Anon2962


    Aug 4, 2004
    I also ticked carrots.

    Well, tone could be interpreted as a personal thing too, eg meyer vs karr - "same" instrument, different tone. Also, having 'good' vs 'bad' tone on the bass is a purely personal opinion - eg

    "Wow! edgar gets a great tone from the bass"
    "I think he doesnt use enough shape in his phrasing, I hate his tone"
    "Well screw you then."


    "i just love Steve Swallows tone!!":bag:

    When you think of it this way, what you mean when you say 'tone' isn't so clear. I guess I always liked the sound of the bass - i guess anyone who plays the bass does! But that doesn't mean i don't like other sounds. :D
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well to me it seems obvious that DB is large, cumbersome, difficult to transport and requires dedicated investment in sound technique... so there has to be some reason why you play it, as opposed to flute or bass guitar , for example...

    A I said in my first post - for me the only reason was that I loved the sound of acoustic Double Bass and that's the only reason I have taken the difficult step for me of going back to be a beginner after 30 years of playing BG etc.
  19. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    The bass is something I've always enjoyed hearing even as a child but only recently in the last 6 years have I begun learning and playing it...first the electric and then the acoustic.

    I don't know why I like it to be honest it's just something I like to play with now.
  20. JimGullen

    JimGullen orch. bassist trapped in a statistician's body...

    Oct 25, 2005
    West Bloomfield, MI

    While I love the tone of the doublebass itself, that's the destination. I enjoy the "journey" to good tone just as much.

    I enjoy hearing the progress I make as I start to learn a piece: how will I finger and play the right notes...in tune? I need to keep my bow angle correct during this passage when I start to get nervous about the quick transition into and out of TP for a strange interval. Soon, I can start thinking more about bowing and phrasing. Not long after, I can start to say what's on my mind (or in my heart) through the music....good stuff!

    Yes, the doublebass is a big, physically demanding, complicated, inconvenient, {insert whatever adjective you wish here} instrument. Those facts just make it all the sweeter when I nail a Vivaldi Sonata, or a bit of a Bach suite, or an orchestral exerpt that has stretched me just enough.

    Like many things in life, attaining something is so much more fulfilling if you've had to really work for it.

    Just some thoughts from an orchestral bassist trapped in a statistician's body!

    Best regards!

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