Here is what I’ve learned so far about how to safely change the strings on my double bass.
Watch The Video Lesson
About Changing Strings
You wouldn’t think there is much involved in simply changing the strings, but there a few things to be aware of which will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
Change one string at a time. Without the tension from all of the strings pushing on the bridge, a thing called the “sound post”, which is wedged inside the bass between the front and the back, could come loose and fall down. Any my luthier friend tells me it can be a real pain to put back in place!
Take a picture, or at least remember the string routing inside the pegbox before you begin removing strings. Try to not have strings rubbing against each other as you tune.
Now is a good time to do any cleaning necessary on your bass. A soft cloth, q-tips and a safe cleaner for fine instruments can be used. I purchased Kolstein’s Clean and Polish kit and it is awesome! Check it out: Kolstein KR-021 Clean and Polish Kit
Lubricate the bridge and nut slots with some graphite from a pencil to help the strings slide more freely over these surfaces.
When you insert the string end into the roller twist the end of the string around the part leaving the roller several times to help hold it securely.
Unless you want to spend the whole day turning the tuning machines, buy a string winder gadget. Be sure to get one made for the bass as guitar string winders are too small to do the job. Mine is the “TurboTune”: D’Addario PW-TTPW-01 Turbotune Peg Winder
Caution! Be sure to keep an eye on the bridge’s alignment. The bridge has a tendency to lean towards the fingerboard. Make sure it stays vertical and that the feet stay in the location you marked (lightly) with a pencil.
Break-in time. Strings take time to stretch out. Be patient and give them a few days to stabilize. During the first few days you will find it necessary to retune often.
Here is a short excerpt of Czardas, a tune based on a Hungarian folk dance, that our orchestra, the Evergreen Community Orchestra performed last week in our spring concert. I didn’t get the complete number recorded, just this excerpt.
Here’s what the all knowing Wikipedia has to say about Czardas:
The piece has seven different sections, each one of a different tempo and occasionally key. The first half of the piece is in D minor, then modulates to D major, back to D minor, and then finally finishes in D major. The first section is Andante – Largo, followed by a large increase in speed to Allegro vivo. This then slows down to Molto meno. The piece then slows down more to Meno, quasi lento. The piece then suddenly picks up in pace and is at Allegro vivace. It then slows down to Allegretto and finally to Molto più vivo. The tempo changes make the piece exciting and interesting, but even with all of these tempo changes, it is generally expected that there should be some rubato to add feeling to the piece. There are also many different dynamic changes in the piece, ranging from pianissimoto fortissimo.
In the Meno, quasi lento section, the violin plays stopped harmonics. This involves the violinist placing their finger down on the note and playing another note, with the finger only just touching the string 5 semitones above. This gives the effect of the violin sounding two octaves (24 semitones) higher.
First, a few questions:
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! […] Continue Reading…
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…
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…
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…