Jump to content

Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Double bassed

Michele C.

Recommended Posts

I got double bassed today. I was walking in a corridor in the music school and entered a room to greet a friend who plays guitar and was walking his way with a piano and saxophone.

He told me "please take this and I will get back on guitar".

I got into the groove, the pieces were fairly simple stuff, like Shiny Stockings and I got somewhat to terms with the scale and intonation.

I had unbelievable fun holding the thing battling with it and feeling it with my body. I found myself pushing tempo rather than holding a little back as usual.

It was tremendous fun for me, one of the few times I have been smiling for the whole session.

My fingers started to cry for help after fifteen minutes or so and now I have two big inflated blisters that I just punctured to go along.




I think I had time to get an opinion on how high I found the nut comfortable. From this quick test, I think it is such that the nut is a couple of inches above my eyes, as this seems to help keep wingers wide open in half position.

I found that playing in a much lower position than I do on the electric bass was the right thing, as seemed to be using as much open strings as I could, considering also that I did not have an amp. Trying to hit an E on the third string was difficult and felt plain wrong soundwise.

For some reason I was so happy to climb the neck as high as fourth position, but it is easy to get lost up there, so I went more melodically than usual, rather than staying mostly on chord tones and intervals. I found that not only it felt safer, it felt right.

I don't understand clearly why, but I played very differently on the URB and I liked my playing much better than usual.

Looks lika a bad case of love, just to cite one more song.

When I got home, I grabbed my fretless and tried the same song. I think I have learned a lesson and could get back some of the excitement and some of the style.

I always wanted to play a URB, but what stopped me is than an apartment with a wife and three kids and a URB do not mix very well. Yes, but ...

-- Michele Costabile (http://proxybar.net)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 5
  • Created
  • Last Reply

That height is right, eyebrow = nut is the usual but not strictly enforced measure. Just a tip (don't use the finger tip!) Use the sides of your fingers to pluck, as much as you can, to the knuckle if possible. Pull the string back and let loose-- get the skin away from the string ASAP, kind of escaping away from the body as you release. Unless you are really digging in for maximum volume and/or using a slapping technique, one can usually get a lot of play time without encountering too much digit damage.


Nice to hear of your fun! There is nothing like the mind/body meld you can get with a double bass.

1000 Upright Bass Links, Luthier Directory, Teacher Directory - http://www.gollihurmusic.com/links.cfm


[highlight] - Life is too short for bad tone - [/highlight]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Update: today I decided to get into the classroom for the lesson of rhythm section wielding my fretless and a copper pick, to spare my fingertips more damage.

I found out three things.

1) nobody noticed

2) Everybody loved the sound (round with impact)

3) I was using a few lessons I learned on the URB, namely: use more empty strings, no need to play a Bb blues on the seventh fret when you can do it in half position, run less triads, more scales.


Of course, when I say 'play with a pick' I mean Steve Swallow, rather than, say, Duff Mc Kagan. (oh, by the way I found a video of Steve with vibraphonist Gary Burton where he runs his amp into quite noticeable overdrive, but we are still far from rock tone).

(one more by the way: when I hit the first notes of Sweet child of mine, the whole classroom got into the groove without missing a beat, the teacher was having coffee).

-- Michele Costabile (http://proxybar.net)
Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...