0-9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

The upright bass

johnny [staff]
Posts: 437

Does anyone play or had a chance to play at some point the upright bass (or double bass, contrabass)?

I only tried it once and I pretty much sucked, but it was really fun playing it. I will get one someday if I get a big enough apartment to put it in
I'm a dude that looks frequently at the fretboard. I tremble at the thought of there being no frets to tell me where I am..arrghh!..No!
I would love to play a Cello! ala Echo and The Bunnymen.
I went to see a John Williams orchestra last weekend, the 1st chair cello played beautifully throughout the concert. Then the Cantina Band piece came up and he walked to the other side of the stage, leaving his bow behind and started playing with his fingers at crazy speeds. His hand was going up and down the 2 and 1/2 foot fretboard at lightning speeds.
I only wish there were some lefty ones.
stand the other side of it
i have never had a chance. double basses are hard to find.
im saving up for one
im saving up for one
YEAH ABOUT 700 for a used one. AT LEAST!
The double bass might have the same amount of strings as a bass guitar. They may even be tuned the exact same. But everything you know about playing the bass guitar can not be applied to the upright in any way.
For example for a one octave scale on the bass guitar starting on A on the E string you would usually use a moveable scale.

fingering: 2 4 1 2 4 1 3 4

On the upright one must realize that the distance between tones is relatively the same distance if you put your first finger on your eyebrow and your fourth finger on your chin. Double bass players seldom use their 3rd fingers as the distance between the notes are so far apart.

Playing the same A scale on the upright will look like this:

fingering: 0 1 4 0 1 4 -1 2

The “-1” is what we call a change in position. This is where the hand moves one semitone up to the nut.

Different qualities of tone can be used by bowing (arco) plucking (pizzicato) and striking the strings with the wooden part of the bow (con legno). When playing fingerstyle on the bass guitar your plucking fingers with be at a 90 degree angle to the strings. On the upright when you pluck the strings your fingers are roughly parallel with the strings and you actually pluck the strings with your first knuckle and not your finger tips. To pull the weight of the powerful strings there is no pickup to rest your thumb on. All you do is lock your thumb beside the fingerboard and pluck over it. You wouldn't pizzicato between the fingerboard and the bridge because its too sticky with left over rosin from the bow.
I forgot to mention:
When you are playing your bass guitar you won't really hear yourself. It might be due to the rest of the band blasting away or that the dumbass sound technician put you through the wrong monitor. Just by glancing occasionally you can double check that your fingers are on the right frets.

With the upright there are no frets. Much to the horror of bass guitarists that would like to try out this mama. One good thing however is that the instrument is right beside your ear. This makes it easier to hear if you are at the correct pitch so that you can adjust quickly if you are not.

When the upright is adjusted to its correct hight the first position will be by your eye. So if you have to change positions and travel back to first position it would be like touching your eye.

At a beginner's stage we teach players to be able to do this. Hours of practicing goes into landing on the right positions.

This is an example of a beginner stage D major scale. This is what they have to be able to do even before they reach grade 1 of Double bass playing. Just note that -2 and -1 are position changes.

fingering 0 1 4 0 1 4 -2 4 2 -4 1 0 4 1

The strings have incredible weight and sometimes you will use fingers 3 and 4 together to help keep the strings down. Some teachers wont approve of this at all.

This might seem way too strange but it is relatively the only way to manage this instrument.
I had a chance to play one(From what I heard, the one I was playing was a lower end bass). It was pretty fun but obviously very different from my Fender P Bass!
Its all in the bowing.

Reply to this thread