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DB-2 What kind of bass should I get?


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  1. If you are in school use the school’s bass to get started learning the basics.
  1. When you’re ready for your own, you can RENT or BUY. (Take an expert with you: Your teacher or a friend who plays bass.)
  1. Local music instrument stores: Entry level and intermediate basses
  1. Larger cities should have a violin shop with some basses, or there might even be a bass specialty store.
  1. Classified ads.  Caveat emptor!

Carved or laminated or both?

This is a deeply personal decision with many choices to make. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I do share my thought process as I made my decisions. In general, there are three construction methods to choose from: A bass that is fully carved which is supposed to have a richer, more complex tone, one that is made of all laminated wood which is supposed to be more durable and for some genres of music where standing on or beating the bass is part of the act this could be a wise choice, or one that uses both carved and laminated wood which is supposed to give you both durability and a better tone than a completely laminated model. After that, you need to choose between new and used and from what country and manufacturer.

My bass is a Samuel Eastman VB-90 hybrid bass. You can watch the video of my review of the Eastman bass in the YouTube clip below.


 

 


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DB-1 Frequently Asked Questions About My Bass Lessons


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What’s the purpose of this bass lesson series?

These lessons are different that other lessons that you may have come across. I am presenting them as my step-by-step journal and commentary from a student’s perspective as I learn how to play the double bass. In each lesson I will cover what I have just learned, any struggles I have had and how I have grown. I welcome your comments and questions on each one.

Am I too old to start learning the bass?

Absolutely not. I have to believe this since I’m no spring chicken myself!  You’re never too old. If you are 60 instead of 16 it might take you a bit longer to master material, but again that depends on you and if you have prior musical training. My instructor told me that he thinks adult students learn better because they are more disciplined and focused.

How often do I need to practice?

It’s better to practice a little daily than a long session only once a week. Shoot for 15 minutes a day at first. You can increase it as you progress.

My fingers hurt, should I stop practicing?

It’s natural as calluses develop. If you have severe pain stop.

What strings should I use?

I chose Thomastik-Infeld Belcantos. Good for both arco and pizz. I may try some others in the future. Bass strings are not cheap.

Here are the string specs from the manufacturer, Thomastik Infeld:

  • Core: specially twisted steel rope core; settles in quickly, they intonate extremely well; exceptional tuning stability
  • Tone: dark and warm with excellent resonance; wide range of tone colors; easy to blend; pizzicato is open and free
  • Sound: outstanding projection with moderate effort; sustains better than most other arco (bowing) string brands
  • Playability: quick response to the bow; soft under your fingers; fantastic hybrid capability

Belcantos are for 3/4 size (and possibly some 7/8 or 4/4 depending on scale length) basses, with a scale length up to 110cm (43.3 inches). They have a steel rope core and are chromium wound.

Tension: G=28.25kg/62.2 lbs; D=27.75kg/63.3 lbs; A=29.25kg/64.4 lbs; E=28.75kg/63.3 lbs; Set=115kg/253.20 lbs.

What kind of rosin should I use?

Choosing rosin seems to be as individualized as choosing strings. There are many different brands and formulations of bass rosin. I started out using Pops rosin, which is a very popular rosin. It is very soft and it will literally melt if you leave it in a warm area, such as in your car in the sun. Pops gives a lot of grip, but it also leaves a lot of rosin dust on the strings and on the bass. I have also used Nyman-Harts, from Sweden. This rosin is harder than pops and leaves very little rosin dust on the strings and virtually none on the instrument. Currently I am trying Holstein’s rosin. I have both the “all weather” and the soft rosin. The all weather rosin worked well with my Holtz student bow, but I recently purchased a Pernambuco bass bow that has black horse hair and this bow seems to want a lot of rosin, so I have been trying the Kolstein soft rosin with it and so far it is working well.

How do I know when to move onto the next stage?

That’s a hard question to answer. It’s a combination of how comfortable and confident you feel personally with the material along with your instructor’s opinion, if you are studying with someone.

Here is the Camelot Orchestra

This was the first time I have played in an orchestra for a musical (aka a pit orchestra), and it was probably the most challenging playing I have done so far.  We played in the dark (with stand lights).  There were many key, tempo and meter changes. There were many “cuts” from the original score, which made reading the music a bit messy.  There were over 60 pages of music to learn.  The music and the cast must be in sync every moment, so watching the director constantly was a must.  So, all in all, it was a great […] Continue Reading…

April Update

With a lot of other distractions going on, not to mention the little time suckers of Twitter and Facebook, I haven’t blogged in a while.  I have mostly been preoccupied with Camelot.  In early March I was invited to play in an orchestra playing for the musical Camelot, written by Lerner and Lowe.  We began rehearsals in March, which accelerated towards the end of April and we had the show opening this weekend.  It has been a LOT of work, but a lot of fun as well.  It was the first musical theater orchestra that I have played in […] Continue Reading…

Thoughts on Success

In my new journey of discovering and learning the upright bass, or string bass, or double bass, or bass fiddle, or whatever you want to call it, I came across a gentleman by the name of John Clayton.  John is a grammy nominated bassist, composer and conductor who as a teenager studied bass with the legendary Ray Brown.  On John’s website I discovered a booklet that he has made available called the “self management book”, which I think is awesome as I know that I need an ongoing dose of self-managment to keep me on track.  If you are interested […] Continue Reading…

Puget Sound

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Here is one glimpse of why I am in love with Puget Sound.

FLAC and all that Jazz

I added some new information to my music store page explaining the lossless audio format that my songs are available in called FLAC.

If you are interested in FLAC, but don’t have a clue yet whether it is something fighter aircraft try to avoid or the latest Starbucks drink concoction, you can read all about FLAC at this Wikipedia article that explains everything you ever wanted to know about FLAC.  And, those nice wiki folks have even compiled a list of list of hardware and software that supports FLAC.

How to Open a CD Case in Three Easy Steps

Have you gotten frustrated trying to open a new CD?  Do you end up cracking the jewel case or leaving parts of the adhesive label on the case?  Here is how to open it up quickly and easily.

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Handel’s “Messiah”

We spent the afternoon today enjoying the wonderful sounds of George Fredric Handel’s “Messiah” filling the air of the Linda M. Byrnes Performing Arts Center in Arlington, Washington.  The chorus and the orchestra were led by Lyle Forde and composed of all volunteer community members.  Besides the community choir, the program features the Overman Family Musicians who also composed a large percentage of the orchestra with a family member in almost every section.  For a suggested admission fee of $5.00, we received a lot of bang (as in timpani) for the buck.  Besides the complete Messiah there were also performances […] Continue Reading…

6th String Root Jazz Chords

Continuing on from the last post, here are three Major 7 and Major 6 type chords with the root note on the 6th string, or low E string on the guitar.  Major 7 chords do have a distinctive “jazzy” sound, so they will make you sound cool instantly.  Be sure to notice that you must mute the 5th string with the tip of your first finger and the 1st string with either a finger or part of your hand .  The Major 6 chord requires that you bar the notes on the 4th and 5th strings with your 3rd finger.  And the […] Continue Reading…