Violin trained Bassists

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by furiously funky, Apr 7, 2003.

  1. furiously funky

    furiously funky Guest

    Dec 28, 2002
    Any body else after Alex Johnson and Jeff Berlin come to mind?
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I'm in no way in their league, but I had 10+ years of classical violin under my belt when I switched to bass.

    I'm sure a lot of people have done the same.
  3. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Slam Stewart, the great upright player, was a violinist before he switched to bass.
  4. Shlomobaruch


    Dec 31, 2002
    Boise, ID
    Bottesini learned violin first... I'm sure there's *lots* of folks.
  5. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    According to his fabulous website, Stafford James started on violin, at age seven.
  6. Is it a great plus to be an experienced violin player as you initiate your 'bass playing career'?
  7. Not neccesarily, it just gives you a little bit of a head start, and also a different approach towards the instrument. Playing any instrument prior to learning the bass will have similar effects (to some extent). Heck, Mingus was an accomplished classical musician on his BASS before he began his jazz career...

    This however is not always the case... I guess it could just as easily tarnish ones ability to learn the bass, misleading them and holding them back rather than giving them a head start on a 'road less travelled.' It's all subjective, though a good teacher could probably make good use of previous knowledge of a different instrument.:bassist:
  8. furiously funky

    furiously funky Guest

    Dec 28, 2002
    I had been playing violin since age 7 when i picked up the bass at age 14. I have found it to be nothing but help, and both have complimented each other well. I even actually began learning to play bass on a fretless and had no problems. I didn't even own a fretted bass untill 2 &1/2 years after i started. I expect i would have had a much bigger problem with bass had i not come from a stringed instrument background allready.
    As long as you remember they are 2 different instruments it is ok.
  9. Shlomobaruch


    Dec 31, 2002
    Boise, ID
    Personally, I think violin helps tremendously with intonation and ear development as the pitches are so much easier to hear and there's less leeway between what's "in" or "out". Bass notes tend to have 10 to 15 cents of freedom before a pitch sounds off, especially in the lowest octave, which is where most methods have a student start. Violins have to be spot on, and it's easier to hear the tonal qualities that distinguishes a note (meaning a,b,c,c#, whatever) from any other note.

    The only drawback is learning a completely different left hand position and bow grip. The bow grip particularly tends to be problematic for violinists, especially since you can essentially get a sound from the bass holding the bow like a violin bow - it's just not the robust sound the instrument calls for. But this is minor compared to what a violin background contributes, and with proper instruction can certainly be overcome.
  10. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    When on summer vacation, with no room in the car for any phatgrl, I bring a violin to practice intonation and bowing, and keep the music going.
  11. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I dunno. Mingus played in a high-school jazz band with a tenor-player we've heard of named Dexter Gordon (according to the Homecoming liner).
  12. I didnt know that, thats pretty interesting. I always read and heard that he was a classically trained bassist, and studied classical works, before he began his jazz career.
  13. Josh McNutt

    Josh McNutt Guest

    Mar 10, 2003
    Denton, Texas (UNT)
    If I remember correctly, Mingus played cello until he was (I think) 17. He then switched to bass because some people he was playing with told him he couldn't play jazz on a cello.
  14. Mingus played cello and switched to jazz because they high school jazz band needed a bassist, according to Goldsby's jazz bass book. The switching from cello to bass was common among the early jazzers, but I dont know if anyone was told that they couldnt play jazz on cello back then. Also from goldsby's book, the cello was often tuned to fourths and used to solo by some bassists.

    I remember hearing the 'ya cant play jazz on cello' excuse somwhere in there, but i cant remember who it was..
  15. Mike Goodbar

    Mike Goodbar Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2001
    Charlotte, NC
    Ron Carter started on cello, too, but switched to bass when he saw the limited opportunities for African-Americans in symphony orchestras at the time.
  16. hey, i heard mingus switched to bass because it was really unlikely for orchestras to take in black players, :(

  17. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    I think both jazz legend Percy Heath and CSO principal Joe Guastafeste played violin before developing greater visions.