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Upright Style - Lean Back or Straight Up

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by SimonPuleo, Jan 27, 2017.

  1. SimonPuleo


    Jan 27, 2017
    I have been experimenting with 2 different styles of playing.

    One where you play the bass almost completely vertical like one teacher instructed me on the Mendel method.

    Another, where you hold the bass out an arms length and lean it into your body.

    Supposedly, the method where you lean it into your body and balance the bass on the side provides less strain on the hands. I don't know I see pros and cons to each approach. When the bass is straight up and I find that I am less focused on trying to balance it on my body however it causes more hand strain. When I have it leaned in towards me I am somewhat focused on balancing, may hands feel a little more comfortable, yet I have this angle to deal with so it throws off my intonation a little.

    Is there a more standard way of playing Jazz bass, I am interested if others have experimented with this as well. Thanks! Simon
  2. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
  3. SimonPuleo


    Jan 27, 2017
    Sorry Franz Simandl
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2017
  4. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Of course, it is well known that the (Gregor) Mendel Method works best with a Hybrid Bass...
  5. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    How you physically approach the double bass is a series of compromises. I've tried just about every way that I could think of and still am not completely satisfied with any of them. Find the way that makes the most sense right now and know that you'll probably try a different approach later.
  6. SimonPuleo


    Jan 27, 2017
    Thanks for your support!
  7. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Your first second choiceâ„¢ Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I don't think that illustration of Franz Simandl is really representative of how he held the bass. Here is a photograph of him and you can see that the bass is not completely vertical:


    Also, he does describe inclining the bass towards the player in his method. The translation from German always struck me as a bit awkward though.

    - Steve
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2017
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    This is a common question that people have asked me over the years. To help answer it, I created a video this past summer showing how 10 different bassists hold their basses. Each player explains how they hold their bass, and why. Hope you find it useful!

  9. Chris' video is great. Actually, they all are - I've directed all my students to them since I found out about them. Thanks Chris!

    Here are my thoughts on this topic, for what it's worth... I like to lean the bass into my body for several reason.

    1. I feel like I can hear the bass better acoustically in this position as opposed to having it vertical. I guess it's because the bass top is pointing slightly more towards my head instead of straight out in front of me.
    2. I find it's easier to get into thumb position by adjusting the angle of the lean of the bass.
    3. I own a bass with big shoulders and a longish string stop. Angling the bass makes it way easier for me to get my arm over the shoulder when in thumb position.
    4. I feel like it's easier to shift my weight and vary my standing position when angling/leaning the bass into my body

    I like to sit sometimes too, but that's a whole different conversation. :)
  10. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    I agree that Chris' video is great and, IMO, demonstrates that positioning the bass is very personal. One of the teachers that I admire most discussed this at length with me on our first meeting and I continue to consider his comments years later. A lot of criteria help determine what might work best for you: do you bow? do you play in thumb position a lot? Steel strings? How high is your action? Unamplified much? How tall are you and how big is your bass? Once you answer those questions you can start to look for a position in which you have comfortable access to what you need most. There are trade-offs. A mirror and a competent teacher can help a lot in getting your initial stance. Once you have that and better understand the trade-offs then you'll fall into one of three camps: you'll experiment and change a lot, or you'll find a position that works and stick with it forever, or you'll change sometimes. I have a teacher who recently changed his stance after 30+ years. People change, and our needs change too.
  11. I think it's worth noting that Gary Karr plays with the bass in a vertical position and with the endpin quite high. I've been told that for him, it's all about the position of the bow and the bow arm. Obviously it works really well for him (duh!), but I've tried to play this way and found it put way too much bend in my left wrist and made it harder for me keep equal weight on both feet. Just my two cents, as always.
  12. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    I checked out Book I of the Mendel Method.

    It looks easy peas-y.
  13. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Effin' AWESOME!!!!!!!!
  14. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Lean back or straight up?

    Both/all. Why not?
  15. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    Observations after a few years of playing:

    I think both styles can work, and each has strengths and weaknesses. For me, i've settled on a strong lean back position. The objective, was to achieve something closer to a sitting position with regards to the left hand for a more comfortable, less tense, left hand. While i largely achieved this, it also made it hard to access the E string with a german bow grip. I recently switched to a french grip to remedy this. I am still early in my bowing, so switching was not a hard choice to make for me. I can now access all strings well with a french grip bow, and have a fairly comfortable left hand.

    My stance is close to Rufus Reid's in Chris's video, BEFORE he inserts the angled end pin. The fingerboard/neck is rather in my face.
  16. tito mangialajo

    tito mangialajo

    Feb 1, 2006
    Great video Chris!! Thanks a lot.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.

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