Transition from Electric Bass to Double Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by catduo, Mar 14, 2010.

  1. catduo


    Oct 12, 2009
    So i've had the desire to check out double bass after hearing Espernaza Spalding.

    I was thinking it was a good idea to get a fretless lined electric, then transition to fretless no lines, and then eventually upright. Do you guys think this would be a good idea? Is learning the correct intonation positions on the fretless bass the same as double bass?

  2. mmjazzbass


    Jan 24, 2010
    I would just get the upright and not use fretless electric as a transition. I started with fretted electric, then went to upright, and now I'm learning fretless electric, and the hand shaping and intonation technique is entirely different between fretless and upright.
    All the fretless electric will do is improve your hand shape on electric bass, but it won't really help you for upright bass technique.
  3. oren


    Aug 7, 2007
    Salem, OR
    I agree with MM. It's best to treat upright as a different instrument - the relationship between the body and the instrument is entirely different than bass guitar, and the left hand fingering is also quite different.

    With upright I think it's important to start with a good teacher. As my teacher (Doug Miller, a wonderful teacher and jazz bassist in Seattle) told me when I started: Double bass is a big instrument, and it will hurt you if you don't approach it correctly. Fortunately there's 200 years of experience you can take advantage of.

    Have fun!
  4. synaesthesia


    Apr 13, 2004

    It's a different instrument altogether. Play the DB if you want to play one.
    You don't start on a ukelele to play the violin eventually just because it has four strings and is roughly the same size.
  5. Bass


    Nov 10, 2003
    No. I bought a fretless electric before doublebass, thinking the same as you. Total waste of money.
  6. oldfretless

    oldfretless Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 28, 2007
    SoYo County,PA
    A total waste of money is a bit extreme. The electric is a cool axe that augments the bass experience, opens you up to more work, and the folks that protest it the most on this forum would probably be really great slab players if they could get past hating it. Mcbride said Ray Brown was a monster on a slab. What if Coltrane never played a soprano because it wasn't a tenor? It's not better, just a little different, and I would not quit one, or the other.
  7. PsychoScout


    Mar 18, 2008

    and totally not... :rollno:

    it's better to start on the DB right away.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think you have missed the point in that - if the OP is only buying 2 fretless basses to enable the transition - then that is certainly a waste of money!

    So - in the case in question - already having an electric bass - then there is absolutely no point in buying two additional fretless basses - as they are not going to help in any way beyond what he already has! :eyebrow:

    I agree with everybody else - just go from what you have, straight to DB and don't bother with the others!
  9. tomshepp

    tomshepp Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2006
    Maynard MA
    Because the scale length is longer on DB, say 41.5" as opposed to 34" on a standard fretless BG, the feel will be very different. This will become evident in how you intonate your notes when playing on one or the other. In that regard, Fretless BG will not be of much help in starting on DB.
    Best to get a teacher who can demonstrate all aspects of playing DB. You can play both, but will need to adjust to the scale length when you move from one to the other. Your ear will tell you how your intonation is.
  10. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    If you want to paint your house red, you should go ahead and paint it red. Painting it blue, then green and then eventually red doesn't really make much sense, does it?
  12. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    +1 X 3 :)
  13. Bass


    Nov 10, 2003
    Did you buy a fretless e-bass to transition from slab to upright? I did. And in my experience it was a total waste of money. It didn't help one bit. How did you transition from e-bass to doublebass?

    I'm not debating the merits of e-bass, that is not at question here.

    I now have a fretless e-bass that I have played perhaps 3 times. And it is sitting in a closet collecting dust. That is a total waste in my opinion.

    In the future, I may be able to make value out of the asset by replacing the neck (or is this just pouring good money after bad?). I already have 2 p-basses, I don't really need a third. Maybe I should just sell the bass and recover some of my loss. Nice looking bass anyhow:

  14. oldfretless

    oldfretless Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 28, 2007
    SoYo County,PA
    I started on EB, but had a DB before my first fretless EB. I simply lost the desire to play anything fretted in 1976. You can use your DB fingerings on EB. Also, theres a big difference between buying 2 $300 EB's compared to 2 $4000 Rob Allens. I prefer DB, and everyone is right, if you want a DB, get a DB.Just say'in, a fretless is another tool, just like bowing, or truing flywheels.
  15. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    I guess it's been said, but upright is a different instrument from the electric bass. Fretless electric will not really help at all.
  16. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    Will have to agree with the above comments regarding the "stairstep" approach. Dive into upright with a good teacher if that's your goal. I went from elec. to upright in the 70's, but kept both going all along. In the early 90's, I got a nice lined fretless and had a good fingering technique to bring to the instrument by then for better intonation. Something with no frets and a 34" scale needs some special attention to keep it in tune.

  17. Ike makes a good point, I think, maybe without even realizing it. A stepping stone approach to the transition will not help much.

    But, conversely, starting out on DB and switching to or picking up the bass guitar is a cakewalk by comparison. I switched from guitar straight to DB, and then years later, picked up a Fender P, and while I don't play it much and could certainly stand to do some shedding on it, I didn't find it difficult to make that adjustment at all.
  18. I agree with what seems to be the consensus above. About a year ago I got an upright and a teacher I really like, and here I am gigging frequently with the upright. It's very different from a fretless BG (which I also have one of). Scale length, muscle memory for intonation, body position etc. all different.

    The teacher is probably the most important component IMO.
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I have experienced that at Jazz jams - so there are BGers who think they're going to be the next Jaco and so will play fretless bass without putting in the work and their intonation can be horrible and actually stands out a lot more on BG than it would on DB.

    So I can remember other musicians asking me why a particular bass player always sounded so bad although he looked as though he knew what he was doing and I had to explain about poor intonation...:meh:
  20. Tom Howland

    Tom Howland Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003

    As everyone has said.
    Different animal all together.
    Much harder on hands.
    Get a good bass, set up right. ( they are expensive)
    It's better to play some upright. (maybe a friend has one)
    Before buying one.
    Good luck?
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