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Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Bethelbass1, Nov 18, 2003.

  1. My tone is really dry and scratchy. How can I improve this besides new equipment.I can't afford anything new. It is bothering me to the point where I get frustrated and can no longer practice.
  2. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    well, then practice
  3. Yes, but what technical things need to take place in my practicing to achieve better tone?
  4. I assume since you describe the sound as scratchy that you're playing arco? If so, take a look at your bow angle; you want the bow to be close to perpendicular to the strings. Also make sure the hair is fairly flat on the string. You can try using more or less rosin or a different type of rosin. You might have a lot of old rosin built up on the strings; try cleaning them with a little rubbing alcohol. (don't get it on the bass though). It's quite possible that changing strings or getting your bow rehaired would help a lot, but you say you don't want to get any new gear, so... thats about all I can think of.
  5. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    BeatHellJass: Relax your right hand, arm, shoulder etc, practice scales drawing the entire bow across the strings with just the weight of the arm on the bow. To avoid a choked tone it's important to find a loose & relaxed bow hold; try to lift any one of your right hand fingers while playing. Make sure bow placement with respect to the bridge is adequate.
  6. I am talking about arco playing. In fact, I like my piz. tone. I do have some rosin built up on the strings. Thanks for the help.
  7. Where is the contact point of your bow in relation to the bridge? If you play too close to the fingerboard things can get dry and uneven and too close to the bridge things will be very scratchy. Make sure you're not applying too much arm weight and "choking" the string.
  8. Certain strings, such as Thomastik Spirocores, are notorious for having a scratchy, nasal arco tone. This can be somewhat overcome by technique and time (my Spiros started getting a pretty good arco tone after having been on my bass for about 4 years), but if you're really into arco, make sure you have the right strings for the job.
  9. I use D'darrio hybrids. My teacher uses them and has good tone, and I have had them for a year.
    Sometimesd I play to close to the fingreboard. My endpin slips (different problem) and My bow relationship suffers. Howerver, I still have scratchy tone when I put my bow as close to dead center and parallel to the ground as I can tell in a mirror. I do use french grip. Does that make a difference?
  10. kwd


    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley
    I was in the same boat with my arco sound. I tend to side with the people here who adhere to the "the sound is in your fingers, not the strings" school of thought, but when I replaced the hybrids things got better. It's funny, my teacher could got a good sound out of them too so I dismissed the idea of the strings being the problem. I think it's important that you have strings that are easy to bow right now. Learning arco is hard enough as it is, you don't want your strings to put you at a disadvantage. Getting the fundamental out of the E and A hybrids was difficult. My teacher saw me struggling and suggested I replace them w/something else.

    Our teachers could probably get a good sound with 4 pieces of twine stretched across the bridge so we shouldn't gauge ourselves against them.
  11. Perhaps the problom lies in your left hand; make sure that, for instance, when you finger a C on the A string, your first and middle finger are also fingering the Bb and B respectively. This would explain why your pizzacato sounds fine (according to you, i dont know if your teacher would agree) Sometimes when developing certain aspects of playing, you unintentionally neglect others. In order to get an ideal sound though, to get aligned with your "cosmic ebb and flow," all your developed area's must be working in harmony.
  12. I've never heard of that technique, Bill. What exactly does fingering the notes behind the actual note achieve? It seems to me like that would simply put addition tension and stretch on the hand, but I could be wrong.
  13. Thank you everyone.
    I need to be patient and continue to practice. When I can afford new strings I may get orchestral.However, I do play jazz so that plays a part in my string selection. I'm just an impatient fool who wants an intellectual answer that I can grasp quickly. Not everything is cut and dry. There are so many factors I gues I have to experiment and find my own sound.
  14. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    The infamous hybrids are hurting d'addario very bad: when bowed those strings have a nasty tendency to produce harmonics and overtones instead of the desired fundamental/root tone. Experienced players can deal with that, but beginners are having a rough time to get a decent sound. Those strings should not be labeled as hybrids. Maybe for D'addario they are hybrid by construction between the pizz and orchestra sets, but the end result is NOT a convenient set for someone who does both arco and pizz, classical and jazz. Toss'em away, get a set of Obligato, you'll be amazed of how easily you're able to work on your tone.
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Isn't this exactly why you have a teacher though? To ask questions like this and work on them over time?

    It's impossible for anybody here to see what you're doing exactly, but your teacher can and can show you what to do about it.
  16. E.O.M.


    Dec 7, 2001
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Thumbs up for the Obligatos! I play both pizz and arco extensively, and am amazed with how these strings sound for both techniques. Definately worth a try.

    But, if you can't spend money on new gear, talk about your tone with your teacher! It's what he's there for. I'm sure he would be able to answer your questions a hundred times better than we could, since he is right there in front of you.

    Until then, good luck on your journey to tone-happiness.