Learning double bass

Learning double bass

Learning double bass    18:54 on Sunday, February 25, 2007          

(168 points)
Posted by Ruth88

I'm a bassoon student at music college. However, I'm not enjoying it now i'm under pressure to play, so i've decided to take up the double bass to try and re-spark my enthusiasm. I've always liked the bass, and love jazz music but can't stand jazz bassoon (or flute, I play that too) so would really like to play jazz with the double bass.

However, being a poor student I cant really afford double bass lessons, so i'm gonna be learning on my own out of books occasionally having a litle help for a DB friend from college, so...

Are there any tips you can give me to help me out? Any essential things i need to know?

Re: Learning double bass    10:47 on Sunday, March 11, 2007          


I don't play double bass..., yet. I really want to, however, as you said, they are expensive; so, I play electric.

My advice would be:

1. Learn the basics, of course. I'm going with the assumption that you've never played bass or, possibly, ever touched a bass at all. The tuning of each string (from thickest to thinest) is E, A, D, G. Unlike electric bass, one wants to pluck over the fingerboard using a little more finger than the tips. Chances are, you'll be told to "dig in" at least once. Also, the double bass lacks frets, so you need to have good pitch to keep in tune.

2. Learn to read music. Obviously, you already know how to read music, but it is being able to sight read and to look at the paper rather than your hands that is important. The coordination is very important. I, for one, have had to memorize a lot of my first pieces of music until I was able to read competantly. You may not have as much trouble, being a bassoon player and already being used to bass cleff, though, that is not the hard part.

3. Scales, scales, scales... and arpeggios! There are many shapes for all the scale modes and arpeggios, but every key has the same shape. It's not that much different from bassoon or flute. The better you are at scales and arpeggios and other exercises, the easier it will be to play things as you notice patterns in your music.

4. If you're going to do jazz, I'd recommend working out of books with swing or big band music when practicing.

5. Consider electric, too. It can help with playing double bass. Not only that, but if your director ever pulls out a funk piece, at least you'll be able to play on that, as well.

6. Remember, I'm an electric player with little knowledge of the double bass. So don't think you're getting advice from an expert; but I do know this: jazz bass can require very high expectations.

Gooc luck!

James Dowdy Moose

Re: Learning double bass    12:31 on Sunday, March 11, 2007          

(168 points)
Posted by Ruth88

1) I do have a beginner book that i'm working through to get the basics down (or trying to, without a bow). I've been plucking over the finger board... possibly because i'm too lazy to hold my arm further down, hehe. the fretless thing did concern me a little, but hopefully my pitch is reasonably good from playing bassoon so i shouldn't be tooooooo bad.

2) My sightreading is pretty good on the bassoon (even if nothing else is) so i'm also hoping that my pitch will help me there, along with getting used to stretching my fingers to the right places!

3)I HATE SCALES!!!!! however, i appreciate their importance, and that they're very helpful in learning how to play an instrument, blah blah blah *grumble*

4) I do really want to work out of jazz books, but a big problem is not having a clue which ones to get :s

5) I actually got an electric bass for christmas a couple of years ago, but i never really caught on with it. might take it back up when i get better with the double bass, but otherwise i'll probably sell it.

6) i know there are high expectations, but i'm not expecting to be amazing, or to play in the best jazz band ever. i just think it'd be cool to be able to do

Thank you for your help - you may not be an expert but you've still been helpful anyway


Re: Learning double bass    21:33 on Sunday, April 15, 2007          

(3 points)
Posted by heartxcore

I was lucky and got the chance to start learning bass through my public middle school, and love it.
I don't really know what advice to give you, other than when starting out to tape the finger board where your E and F sharp on your D would be...
it makes it a lot easier to start learning.
If you have questions I can probably really help?

Re: Learning double bass    14:33 on Monday, April 16, 2007          

(168 points)
Posted by Ruth88

Hey - thanks for your reply.
Luckily there were already marks kinda on the side of where the first couple of positions are, so i'm ok there (the distance between the first position thing is huuuuge!)
I dunno if i have any particular questions really... except maybe, what kinda angle are you supposed to hold the double bass at? Should the face of it be at a kinda 45 degree angle to your body?
I'd just like any(-more) tips that you could give me. Also anything that might prevent injury (eg. RSI) that I wont know about without a teacher.
What about, when using the bow, is it just practice that makes you able to play one string at once, instead of accidentally playing two? lol.
Thanks for your help
Ruth x

Re: Learning double bass    10:34 on Tuesday, April 17, 2007          

(2 points)
Posted by malik

"what kinda angle are you supposed to hold the double bass at? Should the face of it be at a kinda 45 degree angle to your body?"

i had seven years of double bass and stopped 5 years ago, now i play a bass guitar.

I learned to position my bass with the backcorner pushed to my stomach/waist(not hard just put it against it) because you put the corner in it the bass isn't frontally positioned and seems to bend to the right.
can i add pictures?


Re: Learning double bass    12:30 on Tuesday, April 17, 2007          

(3 points)
Posted by heartxcore

The last person who replied probably had it better; I hold the bass differently than anyone I know, as I have really short arms and can't bow if I hold it like everyone else. :]

Re: Learning double bass    12:34 on Tuesday, April 17, 2007          

(168 points)
Posted by Ruth88

I see... would it be the same with the electric upright bass? because i only have an electric one, and it's considerably skinnier than an acoustic bass!
Ooh, another thing i've been wondering, how high is the headstock supposed to be in comparison to the body? Cus I'm quite tall and don't know how high i should put it on the spike thing.

Re: Learning double bass    13:59 on Tuesday, April 17, 2007          

(2 points)
Posted by malik

i had a 1/2 doublebass when i was like 1.70m (meters, i'm from belgium, europe)
and when i put my hand in first position it came near the hight of my mouth i think. it's been a while since...
An electric bass is indeed skinnier, i never played one so i can't tell you

good luck

Re: Learning double bass    17:55 on Tuesday, April 17, 2007          

(3 points)
Posted by heartxcore

I've never played an electric...
just acoustic and electric bass guitar.
And it when you bow, your bow/hand should be about waist level, so that tells you kinda how high you should have it.
How high the scroll is really depends on who you are, and how long your arms are.
I'm 5'2" and my bass is way above my head, but my friend who's 6'2" is taller than his and has no problem.

Re: Learning double bass    21:07 on Friday, May 04, 2007          

(35 points)
Posted by Imabassfreak

Ive been playing bass for almost 4 years and if theres one thing you need to know about playing bass its to make sure you are in tune! Also, for the first year or so your fingers will hurt because theyre not used to the thick strings. Hand position is another big part of playing. And theres ALOT of shifting going on in Bassland...so watch out!! Scales suck because you have to shift every other note. I know from experience that going from a wind insturment to a string insturment will take some getting used to...but its way worth it!


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