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violist wishing to start double bass

Discussion in 'Ask Patrick Neher [Archive]' started by viola, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. viola


    Apr 13, 2009
    Hello from the Isle of Skye,
    I'm a keen amateur violist who would like to start playing the double bass, I've been offered a bass on loan, but would like to buy one of my own, but meanwhile would you be able to advise me as to which tutor books would be good to start with. I play piano to Grade 8, viola grade 5 and teach piano on Sundays.
    Thank you for your help, there are no specialist double bass teachers here, but we have a very good young peripatetic violin teacher who would be able to help. Thank you.
  2. anonymous12251111

    anonymous12251111 Banned

    Apr 6, 2007
    Have you considered the Double Bass tuned in fifths?
  3. viola


    Apr 13, 2009
    no, I thought that all double basses are tuned in 4ths?
    have seen Stentor double bass that is recommended, but that's just a UK company I think. How are most US basses tuned?
  4. quenoil


    Jan 20, 2007
    Fifths tuning is a very unusual (although maybe growing?) phenomenon, at least here in North America. The argument for you to try it would be that you already know an instrument tuned that way. The argument against it would be that there are few (if any) books to use to guide you with that tuning and that you are pretty unlikely to find many teachers able to guide you. Standard fourths tuning is probably the better way to go.

    Not sure where to direct you in terms of books to use without a teacher. The method books I use with my students (Rabbath and Vance) are really designed to be used with the guidance of an instructor. Good luck!
  5. PNeher


    Mar 31, 2005
    Bellingham, WA
    Some players do this really well: Joel Quarington, Nadia Gale, and (the late) Red Calender. It requires that you use PIVOTS a lot in your left-hand technique, which is generally thought of as a mature technique. For young hands, a bass tuned in fifths might pose quite a strain to the left hand, unless a innovative approach to left hand technique is applied: something like introducing the pivot before any shifting (a pivot is a rocking of the hand's "weight" or form on both sides of the thumb - without stretching the fingers. A shift is where the thumb moves. An extension is where the fingers stretch to "reach" a note beyond the palm width, the thumb does not move). So, I would let a player make that decision sometime after a "solid" technique is established... but you might be able to convince me that you have a way of approaching the bass which, albeit new, works for a particular student. 5ths opens up the range of the bass and allows certain pieces to actually be played more easily. Many of us use a 5th on the bottom all the time (Edgar Meyer tunes his bass a, e, b, e all the time and transposes. I use g, d, a, d for all orchestral playing and most solo). Then there are various solo tunings.
    The tuning issue for bassists has been around for centuries. Bottesini was known to have tuned his bass up as high as a fifth above normal tuning. SO: use the standards fourths for now. But being open to alternate tunings is a GOOD thing ... I believe.
    Patrick :)

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