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Who invented solid-body electric bass technique?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Edword, Oct 2, 2009.

  1. Edword

    Edword Supporting Member

    Jun 23, 2005
    I am wondering if anyone in particular is credited with having invented the technique for playing a solidbody bass as shown in the Mel Bay books, or if it's just an adaptation of stand-up bass technique. Any ideas?
  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I have read that Carol Kaye wrote the first instruction book on electric bass, and in fact, the title of her book is the origin of the term "electric bass."

    I have the Mel Bay book, so I will take a look and see if it uses upright bass technique.
  3. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I just checked. I have "The Electric Bass Vol II" by Roger Filberto, published by Mel Bay in 1965. I got it in 1977, for $2.50. It uses 1-2-3-4 fingering, which is not the mainstream upright bass technique. So I would assume the technique is either adapted from guitar, or cut from whole cloth.

    It's not a bad book.
  4. Edword

    Edword Supporting Member

    Jun 23, 2005
    I've just bought the latest revision of "Mel Bay's Electric Bass Method - 1" as a new student. The text is still by Filberto, and I'm presuming the same pics have been used for many years. Just curious as to whether he developed the technique in the book, or was just demonstrating it.

  5. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification

    That pre-dates Carol Kaye's book by 4 years.
  6. i have carol's book from around 71 and it is copyright 1969........but it's a lot more fun than filibertos
  7. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Learn something new every day! Thanks, guys.
  8. asberrys


    Sep 7, 2009
    Can I be anal?
    I have this book and it says copyright 1963.
    Filberto I guess was a Nawlins session musician.

    Edit:I just noticed mine says vol.1.So you're right,I'm right.
  9. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    From the Mel Bay website:

    Given his background, I would guess that he simply adapted general purpose fretted instrument technique. There's not a lot about technique in the second volume, and I don't have the first.

    But the history of electric bass technique is an interesting subject. Adding to the historical record, The Evolving Bassist by Rufus Reid is copyright 1974. His book targets both electric and upright bass, and uses the method of Simandl.
  10. Sharko


    Jun 18, 2009
    Washington, DC
    I did.
  11. Edword

    Edword Supporting Member

    Jun 23, 2005
    Well, specifically I wanted to find out who (if anyone) is credited with inventing the alternating two-finger approach to plucking. Looks like Fender guessed wrong that most people would pluck with their thumbs (as very few bassists seem to have made use of the P/J's 'tug bars"), so someone else out there developed the "Mel Bay" technique. Just curious who it was.
  12. PBass101


    Jul 3, 2008
    It was probably many players figuring it out at the same time. I think John Entwistle helped make it popular. There's pictures of him using his right fingers to pluck the strings from 1963.
  13. i doubt that any one invented it.......alternating fingers probably occurred naturally given that you don't have to hold a bow at the same time as piz db......those tug bars may have been designed with flat picks in mind
  14. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Sure, that makes sense, but consider that upright bass players aren't taught to play using their fretting-hand ring finger very often.
  15. If I recall correctly, my Ivor Mairantz Bass Guitar Method (copyright 1963) discusses both methods (Double Bass and Guitar), but uses the "more agile" guitar fingering of 1 finger per fret.
  16. HaVIC5


    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    Two-finger pizzicato has a long history on the double bass. In Simandl book one on the chapter for pizz it's recommended that two fingers are used if the tempo is fast enough.

    Electric bass was picked up most readily by guitar players because the instrument was intended as a new member of the guitar family. In fact, original sheet music for electric bass was written in the treble clef, 2 octaves below pitch, because it was easier for guitarists to read it than learn a new clef. So it stands to reason that 1-2-3-4 was adopted early on because that's the general scheme for guitar.
  17. DeluxeRed


    Jun 2, 2009
    The earliest picture I can find of someone playing finger-style is Shifte Henry from the early '50's. Before that, it's all thumbs.

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