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tuning and intonation

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Howard K, Dec 4, 2002.


  1. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Absolute newbie here... :)

    So far I have:
    Hired a DB.
    Got over the terrifying 'first tune up' (boy those strings are tight!)
    Played along with a few Abersold tracks...

    I'm having problems a) tuning and b) with intonation...

    I tune to a tuning fork - A, then tune the rest of the bass to that string - fine.

    I started off by putting stickers on the side of the neck where the 5th & 7th then 3rd & 9th 'fret' markers would be, should fret markers be there?!!
    I did this by knowing 5th & 7th by the open string tunings, then using octaves to find the 3rd & 9th.

    Then when I play I find that 'notes' are a lot further up the board than I expect them to be.

    Now which is more likely - a) that I put the markers in the wrong place on two different occaisions, or my ears prefer to hear notes that are intonated higher than they should be?

    Is it possible that my eats prefer to hear notes higher? - Is this a common problem when starting out a on a fretless instrument?

    Please dont nag about the dots - I did it to start with to get my head around the huge f/board, but have since changerd my midn and decided that it is easier to play without them as they through you off finding the right pitch.

    Also, any tips for tuning, as it takes me ages!!!

    ...on the plus side, I dont have any hand pains whatsoever yet. the guy I hired from showed me the ideal left hand technique - I've stuck to it as best I can and it seems to work :)
     
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Bowing melodies is the most painful (to the ear and other sensibilities) and fastest way to play in tune and learn the instrument. It also might be a little too much to get in to right from the get-go. The Stick of Pain is definitely the way to go. I use a recording (on MD) of scales and things that I work on with a piano sound that I sequence so that I can play unisons and other intervals -- like parallel scales in major thirds, if you really hate your neighbors.
     
  3. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Actually, I was considering making myself another practice CD last night. I have one already for EB which runs through I & II chords in every key - just to make myself practice in every key really - not exactly exciting.

    I'll do that, thanks. Maybe a nice tuning track 1st to get my head round the relative pitch of the open strings, then some scales. The bow is a good idea - the hire guy recommended that to me actually, but it is very loud and I live in a small terraced house with thin walls.

    The strings are so damned low that it's very difficult to hear... the bass I hired is pretty cheap too, so I guess it has a relatively muddy tone?
     
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    This is one of the things that convinced me to get my EUB - this has dot markers on the neck, so no problems about getting used to the bigger scale.

    I tried "real" basses in shops and was totally flummoxed and as you say, I couldn't really hear pitch - it just sounded muddy and I couldnt even get the instrument in tune.

    So I go from trying a £2,000 bass in Soho, which I can't get anything out of - to the Bass Centre in Wapping and a £1900 EUB which sounds great from the first time I play it!

    Sorry - I'm getting away from the topic - but I'm just suprised nobody has said yet - this is why you need a teacher!! ;)
     
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Yes, I know, I know! - I have a number I'll be calling sometime in the new year.

    I havr to admit that the dots seemed like a good idea and I swear they were in the right places until I started playing along with CDs. Weird.

    Mind you I think the fact that the action is so high makes it a little difficult to judge where the notes are sometimes.

    I shall persevere.
     
  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Another vote for playing melodies with the stick of pain. Use a tuner, play with a record - playing with other people with a bow teaches you to play in tune with them, not just a tuner. Big difference.
     
  7. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    I'm playing an acoustic without any p/ups... do they make tuners that will allow you to accurately tune a double bass via a mic?

    I think this is gonna have to be it then, use the bow as much as poss. Only thing is that I cant use it when anyone's in the house cause it sounds so goddam aweful!!! ;)
     
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Most electronic tuners nowadays, have little built-in mics which allow you to tune any instrument - mine does and it was very cheap.
     
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    in which case i feel a lunch time purchase coming on...

    to consol myself over the internal job I didnt get today :(
     
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    What - some Rosin for your bow!! ;)
     
  11. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    no, just a sandwich ;)

    ...and I thought Rosin was the singer from Moloko?
     
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Although not experienced in these arcane practices , I'm pretty sure that Rosin wouldn't taste very good in a sandwich! ;)
     
  13. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    right then... what is the lowest frequency of a DB - and is it lower than BG?

    I just to teh nearest shop and they have loads of leccy tuners with mics and a convenient 'no returns' policy. So I wann amke sur eit's gonna work as far as posible before I buy...
     
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    They're exactly the same notes - although they sound different. My tuner works on my 5-string EUB - with low B!

    A chromatic tuner would probably be useful for what you want though. I thik there is a thread somewhere about this where Bob Gollihur provides recommendations?
     
  15. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    aah good. i guess it's the scale length that makes the notes sound lower then? - weird.

    i'll go for the top-mid range proced one then :)
     
  16. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    What strings you use will make a huge difference in how your bass sounds bowed, by the way. I have has much more success with Spirocore Weichs than I had with either Heliocores or Obligatos. Of course, I am still a baby in the DB world, and a fetus in terms of bowing, but that's been my experience so far...
     
  17. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Yes, I gathered that you can get strings suited better for pizz or bowing etc?

    Well I've only had the thing 4 days so I'm not about to start changing strings for fear of massive explosion or death by poisonous gas. It's also only on hire, so if I want different strings I'll get the owner to change them for me I expect, again for the above reasons.

    Apart from that I dont think it'll make the blindest bit of difference for my playing yet! :)
     
  18. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Are they interchangable, owls and soap?
     
  19. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    Add one more vote for slow bowing. It's one of the best things you can do for intonation. Make sure your left hand is nice and round and you're playing with your fingertips. That will have an effect on intonation as well. I use a Korg chromatic tuner and it works great. It's a little slow for picking up notes with pizz but it can pick up arco notes very fast.
     
  20. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    owls and soap

    They are not interchangeable but both have similar functional relationships with me. But they are most preferable together!