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Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Georgia Watt, Mar 13, 2002.

  1. Georgia Watt

    Georgia Watt Guest

    Mar 2, 2002
    Unfortunately, at this point in time financing a new double bass is slightly out of the question, but I'm keen to get playing.

    My question is...would it be worth my time and effort to perhaps buy an electric bass and learn some fingering?

    I hope I'm correct in assuming it's the same on both URB and EB. Also, if you think it is wise to get cracking on an EB, would it be better again to look into perhaps a fretless bass? Consider me a complete notice. HELP!

  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    While some things can be learned on EBG and transferred to string bass, the fingerings typcially used are different in significant ways and there would be considerable re-learning involved.

    You can get into an entry-level string bass for about $700. Any EBG you buy will be money you could have put towards a string bass...plus you need an amp, too! Figure a $200 absolute minimum investment.

    I'd suggest trying to get into a rent-to-buy program or time payment deal with a local store if you're really tight on money.

    Be creative! One guy I know was able to talk the local high school into loaning him an unused bass they had in storage :cool:
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I prefer that my students spend about 6 months on the fretted Slab before they start into the Bass, and then continue thereafter to work things out on the electric as they learn new tools. It's good for a number of reasons. Slab is faster, so you get your brain used to working a bit more quickly, you get used to hearing yourself in tune, and since it a lot less physical you can put more quality time in on the music rather than getting distracted with fatigue...
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    What bad tech/approach from Slab? I'm curious.
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I don't think any of that has to do with the Slab, it's more a function of the way you initially learned.
  6. Georgia Watt

    Georgia Watt Guest

    Mar 2, 2002
    So...whats the verdict?
  7. The verdict is,there will always be a difference of opinion.
    In my experience(very limited),having never played any form of musical instrument in my then 46years,but desperate to join my brothers band(they must have been desperate for a bass player) I took up bass.Initially this was with a BG,and I was just learning basic stuff to play along to the current set.After three months of that,they decided that DB was the route to take,thanks guys!,and that is what I have concentrated on since(2 years).
    However,after searching unsuccessfully for a teacher for some time I have recently taken up BG lessons.I figure i am at least learning something.
    The theory knowledge at least should translate,no?
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    My money's on 'get a Slab'.
  9. I learned bad habits from EB too - and maybe it was instead as Ray suggests just how I learned. I had a crappy piano teacher who taught me only to read music and memorize things (rather than teaching me the why of things) and then I taught myself EB. I think part of what my trouble was is that EB was so comparatively easy to play, it was easy to learn a few basic patterns and not only get by, but be the best bassist in a 10 mile radius (which isn't saying much because it was RURAL). But then I got bored and realized the error of my ways, and I am still playing catch up - luckily the Double Bass forced me to play catch up because the learning curve was so steep.
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The learning curve on Bass doesn't have to be so steep, which is why I start students on the Slab. If you're already playing some bass, then putting it on the big fiddle isn't as tough. The first year or so of playing The Bass is spent just trying to get your strength up and some kind of reasonable tone out of the thing. If you're at zero musically when you start out on Bass, then it can be seriously overwhelming. After 20 years of playing I still go to the electric (or guitar and sometimes piano. Sometimes piano because I don't have one around) to work out new things. I also find that practicing fast things on faster instruments increases the speed of my hands as well as my mind when I get to The Bass. Remember, the entire undertaking of Bass is purely technical. Music, if learned correctly, is transferable to any instrument (or handy piece of paper).
  11. Amen to that. My mental block is that I *still* habitually try to memorize patterns - I think some of the music I perform is conducive to this - but it is definitely a crutch. The DB is in a way just a mentally different space/opportunity for me to think about music differently. Piano now too, since I took about 10 years off before I got one of my own.
  12. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I have been playing BG for about sixteen years or so (fretless BG for about eight), and I just got my first bass violin a few weeks ago.

    I would say the BG experience is a huge asset. As Ray mentioned, I have 16 years of ear training, so it is much easier to develop good intonation.

    Secondly, I "know" where the notes are. Of course, I don't hit them every time, at a least I know the right place to look for them.

    And I already have a decent understanding of theory.

    IMO, Ray is right on, my practice time with UB is exhausting. I can't imagine trying to absorb the science at the same time. It could be overwhelming.

    As for developing good and bad habits, well if you know where you want to eventually go, I think you can get there.

    The trick is to develop good BG technique. Sloppy habits on BG will kill you on upright while good habits can be adapted.

    For the last few years, the work I have been going on BG has really forced me to work on left hand technique, including proper wrist and thumb positioning and shifts. I even went back for BG essons after 12 years of playing.

    While this doesn't immediately transpose to DB, after two lessons with my new upright teacher, she is reasonably impressed with my left hand.

    It is my right hand that is all wrong for DB because of playing bass guitar. NOTHING at all like playing upright. I have spent much more time working on this than I have left hand.

    I must, and wish, to continue playing electric bass as well as acoustic guitar, I don't have any issues with working hard to be the best I can be on each.

  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Patterns aren't all bad. As music is very mathematical, patterns are prevelant and useful. As an example, the major scale is just a pattern. Knowing the permutations of that pattern gives you wealth of information for getting through any tune in any key. You have to carry through on the work and make sure that you know what the pattern gives you as you move it between keys. I'm being maybe a bit cloudy, so here's a better example:

    In a major key, you know that there are seven modes, or inversions, to the scale.

    I - Ionian, and a major seventh chord. Traditionally the tonic of a key. Two easy exceptions are minor keys and Lydian stuff. But you can accept that most tunes will resolve to this chord.

    II - Dorian, and a minor seventh chord. Often found just before a V chord. It was popular in the 60's in the jazz world to base entire compositions on the chord resultant from this mode. You have a minor scale with a major 6th -- a neat sound.

    III - Phrygian, and a minor seventh chord. Used often as a weak replacement for a I chord so as to leave a cadence unresolved. With the addition of the major third you can play Spanish sounding things :)

    IV - Lydian, and a major seventh chord. A static chord, like the I chord. When extended gives you the sharp 11th.

    V - Mixolydian, and a dominant seventh chord. The workhorse of western music. A very unsettled chord that really makes you want to hear the I chord. Sing to yourself 'Shave and a Haircut' and leave off the last note and you'll have a great idea of what the V chord does.

    VI - Aolean, and a minor seventh chord. Not a terribly strong chord. Used a lot to fill space more than anything.

    VII - Locrian, and a half diminished (minor seventh, flat 5) chord. Not used a lot in the major key, but becomes real active in the relative minor key.

    Ok. Now, we can take the above and put it more simply:

    Chords of the major key:

    I - major seventh
    II - minor seventh
    III - minor seventh
    IV - major seventh
    V - dominant seventh
    VI - minor seventh
    VII - half diminshed

    This little pattern is incredibly handy. Learn what the chords sound like and how they related and interact with each other. With this information, you'll always have easy access to good notes and be able to 'hear' your way through things.

    Now, take this pattern and plug it into some keys:

    Ab Scale:

    Ab Bb C Db EB F G (Ab)


    Ab Maj 7
    Db Maj 7

    C Scale:

    C D E F G A B (C)


    C Maj 7
    F Maj 7

    Point made? Patterns can be your friend. String instruments, like ours, are great for this kind of thing. The way our instruments are laid out makes them kind of a musical slide rule. The important thing that I would note from above is; Learn the pattern, and then learn what the pattern gives you. If you don't do the work and rely soley on a pattern and how it lays on your (string) instrument, then you haven't really learned the material. 'Pattern' playing, I might add, is a disease of string instruments. All of the other instruments have different fingerings for each scale, making digesting the material imperative to access it. We can access the information instantly but have to slow down and really learn what it is that we're doing....
  14. Yes, I know all them there patterns, but thanks. Anyway, to me the important thing is not that these things are 'patterns' since the pattern used to play them is different on each instrument, but rather how they fit together - ie knowing that if I am hitting a B7b5 i might be in C is knowledge you have not because of a pattern but rather an understanding of scales and chords and how they all fit together. Right? Or take the circle of fifths, sure you use a pattern to get around it, but that's just a mnemonic tool to help you understand the larger theory behind it, eh?

    However, I, as you point out, it is a struggle to make the brain always think about the big picture, at least at some point. Even though you know it conceptually, alot of it is much easier on the pianer, as you also point out, than on strings.
  15. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Nope, I think I missed getting the real point across. Music is the pattern, mathematically. The patterns are identical in all keys. Learn, love, live these patterns. The patterns are reflected physically on our instrument, which can be both a handy crutch and a big mill-stone around your neck, depending on how you use this feature.
  16. The only value I see in being exposed to the bass guitar before the string bass is that the frets make it easy to see how the notes line up and lay across the fingerboard. I don't use bass guitar fingerings on the string bass. I don't pick-up the bass guitar to work things out before playing them on the string bass, I don't have to.

    When I started playing the string bass I wished I hadn't played the bass guitar first. I felt like that was a big obstacle to overcome.
  17. Hey Ray - ok, got it, but we were talking about physical patterns on the neck at the beginning. I see your point about mathematical patterns too though, but then again even the patterns you describe are just crutches to get us to the point where we can instantly hear all those relationships eh?
  18. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Right on both counts. The Slab will give you a scale model of the terrain on which war will be waged. The mathematical studies (read: Music Theory) describe to you consumable chunks that you can put into your ear and then access later. The math can also suggest possibilities that your ear might not have found otherwise.
  19. Georgia Watt

    Georgia Watt Guest

    Mar 2, 2002
    Out of curiosity...what's a 'slab'? *ignoramus question no doubt*

    Oh, and for the record, I ended up forking out for a double bass :D Won't eat for a month now, but hey! I got ma beast!
  20. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    No such thing as a stupid question. Slab=Electric, chest mounted bass device.

    Welcome to the fold!

    Wrong, but I'm exhausted of trying to explain it.

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