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When standing and bowing: keeping the pressure off your left hand

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Davidoc, Oct 15, 2003.


  1. I alwasy find myself resting the bass on my knee, but this probably isn't good technique.

    How are you supposed to hold teh bass when standing so that the pressure's off the playing fingers?
     
  2. Personally I try to situate the bass so that most all it's weight is focused into the ground through the endpin. i.e., keeping the bass fairly vertical. if anything, when I'm playing in the lower positions I might lean the bass slightly foward so that it's sort of pushing into my fingers with a bit of the weight.

    If you like supporting the weight of the instrument with your knee you might try sitting on a stool...
     
  3. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I stand, and I often try to keep the bass close to vertical. My knee is in contact with the back, right on the edge.

    Funny thing: My current teacher uses a lean-over position, but he'd never tried having the knee touching the back. Needless to say, I'm trying to do it his way, but I suspect he may sneak a peak at the vertical/knee-on posture himself.

    DavyO, I don't understand by "keeping the pressure off the playing fingers?" But I do see that you don't have a teacher listed in your profile. The oft-repeated advise around these parts is, "Find someone to work with."
     
  4. I was taught it was OK to let the back of the bass touch your left knee. I think I also let the back edge corner (usually at the transition from top bout to C bout) touch my hip.

    When you do this, combined with keeping the bass nearly vertical, it is actually easy to balance the bass without your holding it at all.

    I found that I can even bow all the open strings, without holding the bass with my left hand. You can't use alot of pressure, though, and you must be smooth.
     
  5. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    yep, Left knee on.
    Works for me, and Gary Karr!:)
    I find the knee really stablilizes the bass. I lean it into my fingers a bit, like toman. If you hold up the bass' weight with your thumb, you usually end up with a lot of wrist and hand pain.

    I think it's important to remember that there are lots of different ways to play the bass. Just pick a teacher, and you'll get one. . .
     
  6. Striecher braces the bass with his foot. Yes, with his shoe on. It ain't pretty.

    Linda McKnight (Manhattan School of Music) liked to stop me in the middle of an exercise and order me to let go of the bass. She expected it to be totally up, a la Karr.
     
  7. I tried that a few times,but it was very uncomfortable for my 6'1 frame. I think you have to be about 5'6 or shorter to make it work.
     
  8. I think in order to brace it with your foot the bass has to be right down by the ground, so yeah. About 5'6 or so... :) Streicher also has some sort of rubber half-ball device attached to the back of his bass right at the bottom. Interesting...
     
  9. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I'd guess he did it cause he thought it sounded good to play the bass without and endpin touching the floor. I can't do that Streicher's way either.

    The bent endpin/open position situation works pretty darn well too, and it does make thumb-position-below-the-harmonic tricks easier to pull off. A good number of teachers down here use the bent endpin. But I have a straight endpin and stand pretty much like everyone else is describing here. Works like a champ.
     
  10. I was a life-long "leaner-inner" (after a brief flirtation with using a stool), but I just recently have been using the "vertical-bass" method being described here. At first, I was having trouble feeling comforatable with it, then I got the bright idea to lower my endpin a notch and then it kind of clicked.

    I noticed immediately a difference in tone and easier thumb position (once I'm there). I'm still having a bit of a problem, though, getting into thumb position ie navigating the break. The bass feels like it wants to start falling away at that point.

    Always sumpthin.
     
  11. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    For "vertical" bass playing at the 5-6th position, try putting your bicep into the heel of the back of the bass neck joint. In other words, you stabilize the bass with your left knee and bicep touching the back.

    You will have to bend your wrist a bit more, but you will be free to play the notes from D-G without touching the bass with your forearm.

    LM
     
  12. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    LM I'm afraid you've lost me.

    a) Are you saying to drop your elbow way down? That's not how I play, but whatever works and doesn't hurt you . . .

    b) If the bass is actually vertical, i.e. balancing itself, you should not need to use your arm to balance it. But again, your mileage may vary etc.
     
  13. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    HI Samuel,

    Sorry to be confusing.
    I don't drop the elbow, but keep it at the same height as usual. I do however move it to my left, and I touch the button of the bass back with my bicep. This puts my arm out to the left a little further, and requires more wrist bend, but it frees up my arm and my forearm doesn't contact the bass. It's hard to describe, but if you can check out Gary Karr's method books, there are some pictures there that might be useful.

    It's important to me to bend forward from the HIPS, not allowing my neck and shoulder muscles to contract, but maintaining my postural alignment.

    I find this way of playing keeps my bow contact consistent, and allows me to put more weight into the left hand fingers.
     
  14. Bending at the waist is misuse of the spine, and is ultimately bad for you.
    You should be maintaining a long, straight spine (this includes the neck), bending at the joint of the thigh and pelvis. The pelvis moves with the spine as a unit. You look down not by bending the neck, but by pivoting the head at the atlantooccipital joint at cervical vertebra C1. There are photos of this in old issues on the ISB Mainline.
    Mike Goodbar has discovered the key to playing upper positions is not in raising the bass, but in lowering it.
     
  15. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Lowering it from where?
     
  16. From where he(Mike Goodbar)had it before he lowered it.
    From where I used to have it before I lowered mine.
     
  17. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Yes Donosaurus,

    I fixed it! Bend from the hips.

    "LMNOP"
    (Laurence Mollerup Neils-Henning Orsted Pederson)
    ;)
     
  18. FM would approve.
     
  19. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    I think he gave me that one!:cool: :)
     
  20. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Now I understand.