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Who Plays Both Upright + Electric?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by christianharger, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. I'll spare you the longwinded series of events that led me to start considering buying and becoming (at least) mildly proficient on the upright..

    I suppose this question is geared more toward those working professionally as bassists, but chime in with any advice you may have ... I'm wondering, for those of you who play both, how important has your ability to also play the upright bass been in (1) getting gigs, (2) getting studio work, and (3) gaining students?
  2. Depends.

    1. Getting gigs - the majority of my calls these days are for gigs that require upright, but the ability to play upright by itself didn't lead to me getting the gig. It was the hours I've spend in the woodshed learning to play the music that is played on these gigs - mostly jazz, the occasional classical/bowed concert, some folk & singer-songwriter. Would I have gotten those calls if I didn't play upright? Probably not, but again, the difference maker was my ability to play the music, not the instrument.

    2. Studio work - personally, no.

    3. Students - yes and no. I've taught middle-school orchestra students, but again, it was my overall ability to teach and play, rather than just the instrument.

    Upright is a different animal than electric, but a lot of guys end up going down that road and really enjoying it. My recommendation would be to explore the upright because you want to play it and perform music on it, not because you want to play gigs and teach on it.

    If you decide to go forward, I'd STRONGLY recommend taking some time and exploring the Double-bass forums, especially the Basses thread. There's a lot of information in there geared towards 1st-time players.
  3. thanks for your input! maybe I phrased it weird, but having the ability to play the music is what I meant. I wasn't asking if the mere fact that I own an upright and can pluck a string would get me gigs or students, I was inquiring about the potential increase in employability if I was able to offer quality upright playing as well as electric.
  4. In that case, then yes, although I would still qualify my answer. For jazz/big band/society gigs (I.E. - get good $ for wearing a tux, loading in through the kitchen and playing "Girl From Ipanema") playing upright is a must. If you want to get work playing theater shows or pit orchestras, doubling is almost a job requirement.

    If you're a capable upright player who is stylistically diverse, then yes, that increase your potential avenues of employment. But again, it all comes down to what sort of music you want to play. If you're a straight-ahead rock guy and that's all you want to play, upright probably won't get you anywhere. If you love jazz, or dig the way the bass sounds on old Peter, Paul, and Mary tunes (which I'm learning for a few upcoming shows) then by all means, dive in to the dark side.
  5. GM60466


    May 20, 2006
    Land of Lakland
    i play both. In the early years the upright helped me get the pretty girls.
  6. haha, "the dark side."

    I'm definitely not a straight ahead rock guy.

    thanks again for your advice and sharing your personal experience - really appreciated.
  7. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    Used to, but the upright got too difficult to transport in my small car so I went electric only.
  8. I have a DB but its tragically, CRIMINALLY dusty at the moment... the slabs aren't getting enough strokeage either. Got a potential doubling-ready gig coming up.though
  9. (1) getting gigs
    - Yes, but it depends on the kinds of gigs you want. If you are looking for a metal band to go play Wacken, then an upright will not get you the gig. However, if a local duo has some good dates coming up where they want a whole band, then yes, it will help.

    (2) getting studio work
    - Nope, upright has never helped me getting studio work. Most studio stuff I get is electric, but then if a song sounds like it might benefit from the upright, then I'll mention it and see if they want it. They usually say yes.

    (3) gaining students
    - I don't teach, so n/a
  10. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    learning the double bass takes a lot- its not as easy as it seems at first, from the EB players mind. i know cause it happened to me!

    if you can play in tune with good feel, arco or pizz, it will greatly help your gig quantity and quality. if you own an upright and play it based off of your electric bass knowledge, it wont do anything for anyone.
  11. mfh


    Mar 30, 2008
    Playing both leads to more work, but it takes a lot of time to stay in shape if you want to play at a high level in many different styles. I like playing everything from orchestral music, to jazz, to rock, etc. So the investment of practice time and resulting diversity of gigging is worth it to me.
  12. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    If you do it make sure you get a bass to suit you.
    First thing is neck thickness, the variations are many, second is fingerboard type.
    each of these things can be adjusted to fit you by having access to a good Luthier that help and maintain your instrument.
    Fingerboards for example can be dressed in a number of ways from flat radius to bevelled radius depending on your over all use.
    Fingerboards can also be replaced, as can necks be thinned/reduced to suit you.
    So if you see a bass that remember you can change it to suit you if you like the look of it or the price is right to allow you to have a set-up done.

    After this it is practice, a teacher will help for sure and get you off to the right start and your own time and perseverance will be the big factor. I know a few great bassists that started then gave up because it was more work than they anticipated.....it is a different instrument and a difficult jump to make from electric to double, though not from double to electric it seems.

    Yes it can lead to more work, varied work, but only if you can master the music being played on it, you will always get the chance to be ruled out as a player to call if it goes wrong.
    Does it improve your playing?.... certainly improves your thinking about what you are playing and how you are playing.
    Does it improve your electric bass playing?...well it gives you more stamina that's for sure, better fretting and dexterity, but that comes of playing a demanding instrument and moving to a less demanding one more than anything else. :)
  13. "Petty girls" I hope they didn't look like Tom Petty! ;)
  14. OK, I read the Q's now, not just the title... Doubling as had no effect on any of the above- gigs are plentiful, time not so much, so I got what I got, regardless of gear. I don't do much studio work, and no students. I am hardly what you'd call a pro, though.. More towards *hobbyist* w/the occasional paying winery gig. I think having a DB opens up possibilities for variety in the set list, or at least adds a vibe and visual appeal(from the audiences perspective). I've played the poor thing HORRIBLY and had people just love it... :rolleyes:
  15. Dogghouse


    Jan 25, 2011
    Santa Barbara
    Bass Guy @ Seymour Duncan
    It does help to get gigs, especially country and bluegrass ones. It's been good for my strengthening of fingers as well.
  16. theworldismad


    Oct 11, 2009
    I got upright lessons in high school while playing in the Varsity Jazz band. Doubling on upright and electric was what got me gigs outside of school, it set me apart from other people who could've gotten calls (along with practice of course.) Knowing double bass along with a functional knowledge of theory can help you get anything from jazz trio gigs to country to folk. Just be aware that double bass is a completely different instrument in regards to technique and approach. I highly recommend that you take at least a few lessons to orient yourself to the new instrument, incorrect technique can lead to severe injury...
  17. Zootsuitbass


    Mar 13, 2011
    I play both, I actually practice the upright, religiously. I hardly practice the electric but I gig it WAY more.

    I learn tunes on guitar and piano.
  18. Just to follow up a bit, I went ahead and bought one! such a cool sound and vibe. I'm really excited to (eventually) be able to offer both my electric and upright abilities - I think it will add a lot to what I'm able to do in terms of gigging.

    thanks all for you input and advice.
  19. Bassmunnky


    Jul 3, 2004
    New York and Philadelphia
    Endorsing Artist: Ernie Ball MusicMan Guitars
    It will!...No matter what...Double Bass ain't an electric, I play both..and I can cover the upright gigs..that IS a plus.
  20. wellso74

    wellso74 Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2010
    Bucksport, Maine
    Simply, the more hats you can wear in this business the better off you will be!