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switching to upright


hollywood_steve

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Although it is expensive, impractical, and just a general pain in the ass, I really want to make the switch to playing upright. My main concern isn't the cost, or wondering how to transport the damn thing, but the fact that I've been playing electric for 25 years and my fingering habits are second nature by now. How the heck do you teach yourself not to use certain "wrong" fingerings when they have been part of your playing for so long?

steve

lex125@pacbell.net

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Good luck with your switch!

 

You really should take lessons.....technique is way more important on upright than it is on electric.

 

It's a very physical instrument and you want good habits so you don't hurt yourself.

 

After you try playing moveable scale fingerings using all four fingers on your left hand, you won't worry about transferring your electric bass habits.

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Yep, they are right.

 

The physical demands of the instrument preclude electric fingering. And get a teacher.

 

If you try to play an URB with electric fingering, you will be very disappointed and out of tune.

 

The tried and true book is the Simandl book; use the Carl Fisher publication (not the International.)

 

I also advise that you learn URB with the bow. Bow technique is difficult for a beginner, but you really can't hear the pizz notes well enough to learn how to play in tune.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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Sounds like you have a real desire to do it so go for it. I made the switch for real 18 years ago and have never regretted it.

 

tips

Must get good teacher

Good instrument with more importantly good setup.

Be patient and take long term view, especially in the beginning. Good luck and enjoy.

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Negatory on the Rabbath Method, good greenboy! :D

 

Maybe the Bille Method, but I really don't like it. And deprecating the Simandl? I've heard that stuff for a long time. I put it down to nothing less than fascism. Great orchestra music has been played worldwide for a century using the Simandl method (actually longer, since he only codified the current practice of his day) and is still a valuable position. A lot of guys, in an effort to solve more difficult problems (such as playing violin concertos on bass) have been advancing Rabbath.

 

The Simandl method solves the problems that the beginning bassist is likely to face. A jazz soloist could use Rabbath to great effect, handling more interesting chromatic passages than most bassists.

 

The Rabbath method doesn't teach traditional positional bass playing, rather, it makes extensive use of pivoting. It is a kind of "new wave" that is sweeping through the bass world. The method also espouses learning all the notes on the bass, teaching scales in the upper half of the fingerboard on the E string. Sounds like a good thing, right?

 

And it does work, but to play this method in tune requires 3 times the practice of the tried and true Simandl to keep it fresh. The pivoting is monumental in the lower, jazz walking positions. And unnecessary, since pivoting's main advantage seems to be speed over accuracy. There is a lot of room to cheat.

 

As far as playing the upper half of the board; it is useless for 99% of the music out there, especially jazz. The tone obtained in this region of the E string is pretty dark, useful only for special effects or rapid orchestral passages.

 

On the other hand, Simandl is so easy and reliable one could take the book and teach oneself (which I don't recommend.) There is extensive shifting, but the method enables bassists to read passages and plan shifting efficiently on the fly. It is reliably in tune.

 

I think there is value in Rabbath, but in hybrid form. If someone gets a good handle on basic technique, they could add some Rabbath concepts to get control over difficult orchestral passages.

 

My assessment seems to shared in practice by most bassists. I just gigged with a guy with a MA in Bass Performance. I had several discussions about the Rabbath method with him, and observed his fingering. He played Simandl Method for virtually all of this orchestral concert, only borrowing from Rabbath a couple of times to handle rapid passages. When I attend orchestra concerts, the bass section is also using the Simandl method.

 

(If you've read this far, but are lost: The Simandl method uses fingers 1, 2 alone. 3 and 4 are "tied together" until you get to thumb position. The Rabbath method uses all 4 fingers, but since most hands can't reach 4 chromatic notes in lower positions, you have subtle pivots or large pivots to play. There is another method which uses 1 and 4 alone, and ties together 2 and 3. This makes sense from a balanced half step POV, however, it requires overcoming the physiological problem of the banded 3/4 finger tendon. If you look at wrist physiology, the 3 and 4 fingers have both tendon sharing and banding problems that make the third finger subservient to 4.)

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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A quote from Edgar Meyer on the subject of technique:

"Over the year I've realized it's all how you hear it; it's not a mechanical thing. So your best hand position is to have 20 options. It's the same for getting around the fingerboard: Having a well-defined set of positions and way you hold the hand is a great basis for playing, but it's not how you want to end up. Ultimately you have to work with a freer hand. When people see two bassists playing in two different ways and ask me which I think is better, I almost always tell them to learn both.

 

Of course, I shudder a bit in saying this because I don't want to send pople who shouldn't be doing this to an early grave."

Back to sjp's question: Start with the Simandl book. Pick up Rufus Reid's book as well. They both espouse playing in position and using 1-2-4 fingering with shifts. Rufus has a bunch of great exercises in the beginning of the book regarding tone production with the bow. They work.

 

Get a teacher...the others are right, you will completely change how you play from a technique standpoint in both hands and will need someone to point you in the right direction. 1-2-3-4 fingering is generally impossible in the low register near the nut. You'll also have to use your shoulder and your arm to provide the force to "fret" the string. Squeezing the neck with your thumb will leave you in pain in a matter of minutes.

 

With the right hand: electric bass-style fingerstyle (with the leverage coming from the fingers) will sound wimpy and quiet. You'll need to turn your finger sideways (parallel with the strings) and pull with your arm to get a full sound.

 

A teacher will be able to physically show you all these things and get you on the right track. Good luck!

 

Check out Bob Golliur\'s list of double bass links for a list of bass retailers in your area. If you're in Southern California (which I'm guessing you are), I can recommend Hammond Ashley as a good dealer in San Diego.

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Sorry. I don't even play the instrument save for a few minutes here and there. But there are plenty of big name schooled players saying that Rabbath is great, and that Simandl is useful but flawed for the music of today, and keeps students in a frustrating straitjacket if they want to progress quicker into a wider range that can be used for commercial and jazz.

 

These same guys that favor Rabbath also seem to be mentioning the Rufus Reid book, BTW.

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Seems like many of them mention Vance's Rabbath-based stuff: George Vance's" "Repertoire For The Double Bass" Volumes 1-3.

 

I also pulled up some interesting anecdotes involving jazz monster Christian McBride's carpal tunnel problems because a well-known band leader who insisted on high action instead of using an amp.

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OK, now that the thread has shifted to a discussion concerning the merits of two different study methods, maybe defining my goals would help point me towards one method or the other. My switch from electric to upright at the advanced age of 45 is due to a very specific interest and my desire to play a very specific style of music. And that would be a very traditional style of jazz bass: strictly quarter note walking parts. That was always "my style" when playing electric, whether in rock, blues or anything else. The big difference now (other than switching to the doghouse) will be that I need to learn how to walk over something beyond the simple I-IV-V changes that I've spent a lifetime on. Yeah, I know, I'm limiting myself; but at my age and experience level, I know what I want to do. So, for what it's worth, which of these two "schools" that others have mentioned would be more suitable for someone with my limited (and specific) goals? To be even more specific, I don't see myself moving out of the 1st or open string position (not familiar with upright terminology); in other words, I don't plan on trips up the neck anytime soon, nor will I be slapping rockabilly style. I just want to graduate from blues walking to very traditional jazz walking.

 

And now that I've described my goals, any ideas how I might find a suitable teacher in this style?

 

Thanks.

steve

lex125@pacbell.net

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It's a little hard to recommend a teacher when we don't know where you live. :)

 

Any classical teacher will start you at the bottom of the neck.

 

The first 10 pages or so of Simandl would be a fine start.

 

It may be a little harder to find a teacher who doesn't insist that you use a bow.

 

I hear what you are talking about, though. If I were playing upright I doubt that I would want to use a bow. I hate it when jazz players pull out the bow. ;)

 

But you never know when you might get a show gig or community orchestra and you will need to saw on your bass a little.

 

The reason why they insist on the bow is that it will be very hard to hear if you are in tune when playing strictly pizzicato.

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Originally posted by greenboy:

Sorry. I don't even play the instrument save for a few minutes here and there. But there are plenty of big name schooled players saying that Rabbath is great, and that Simandl is useful but flawed for the music of today, and keeps students in a frustrating straitjacket if they want to progress quicker into a wider range that can be used for commercial and jazz.

 

These same guys that favor Rabbath also seem to be mentioning the Rufus Reid book, BTW.

And as many big name schooled players say that Rabbath leads to tuning errors.

 

There is a lot of discussion on this on TBL. Here\'s a link to one such discussion which mentions both my bass teacher (Ed Garcia) and my college (UTA).

 

Students who want to play jazz would do well to work the Rufus Book, which is straight Simandl fingering, but approaches Jazz walking technique.

 

The problem most people find with the Simandl technique is the slow "crawl" up the neck.

 

I don't (and no-one I know does) emphasize a "Simandl-only" approach. The truth is that music of the 20th Century, including jazz, was devloped by players exclusively schooled in the Simandl method. There are players out there that want to expand the role of the bass. This may mean many experiments in methodology. Go for it...it's all music.

 

Students seem to take on the prejudices of their teacher. If a teacher doesn't like Simandl, the students won't do well.

 

But to begin, to learn the music already written, the Method is pretty damn good.

 

Just Saturday, the 2 students who I've trained on the All State material in Texas made the All State Orchestra. I've now had dozens of Simandl trained students win seats in the Texas All State Orchestra over the past 20 years. It works.

 

I'm not opposed to new methods at all. I just don't like people throwing out something useful completely. Even the poster in the link above admits that Simandl has incredible utility in certain circumstances.

 

If hollywood_steve were in my studio, we'd work out of Simandl method for scale study and shifting study. We'd also work out of the Aebersold books, to start vol. I and III. I'd also have him purchase the Rufus Reid transcriptions to the Aebersold play-along tracks and begin learning the easier sections of Rufus playing on those tracks.

 

After a few months, he'd be able to make a better decision about where he needs to go.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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