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Old 06-17-2008, 07:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Any Double Bassists out there?

I foolishly played an upright this weekend and discovered that I loved the sound, the feel and the difficulty of the double bass and am now in the market. Does anyone have any rules of thumb for buying one?

any recommendations for the sub-2k market (or approximately around there)?

Any cautionary tails?
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Old 06-17-2008, 08:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I only play the horizontal kind of bass. I can't get an upright because the ceilings in my apartment aren't high enough.

So I guess my warning is to make sure you have high enough ceilings.
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Old 06-17-2008, 10:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Wait... Is double bass another word for upright bass?

I thought this thread would be about drums.....
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Old 06-18-2008, 03:54 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Punk.of.Ages
Wait... Is double bass another word for upright bass?

I thought this thread would be about drums.....
Yes, think Charles Mingus, not Lars Ulrich.
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Old 06-18-2008, 10:02 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baraka_Guru
Yes, think Charles Mingus, not Lars Ulrich.
Haha. Okay. Just wanted to clarify.

I love upright basses. I've never even attempted to play one, though. I have minimal experience on the horizontal bass.
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Old 06-18-2008, 01:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I play lots of electric bass guitar, and own an electric double bass which I use to play jazz and pop gigs.

I also play double bass in the symphony orchestra at the school I teach at. I'm not very good on acoustic double bass particularly with a bow... and this from someone who's pretty good on electric bass and has played professionally for several years.
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Old 06-18-2008, 06:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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you know.........i have a few horizontal basses,acoustic,electric.......whatever.

but!!!!!!!


i do run a bow on them on ocassion,("johnny rosen up that bow......")...........and come up with some sweet sounds..........really lookin' into an upright myself.


good luck man.
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Old 06-18-2008, 10:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allaboutmusic
I play lots of electric bass guitar, and own an electric double bass which I use to play jazz and pop gigs.

I also play double bass in the symphony orchestra at the school I teach at. I'm not very good on acoustic double bass particularly with a bow... and this from someone who's pretty good on electric bass and has played professionally for several years.

Have you played any that you loved? Any that you would stay away from?

Sorry about the nomenclature. I should have thought about that.
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Old 06-19-2008, 05:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I play bass guitar in a band, but I'd love to play an upright. I'm such a guitar-oriented critter, though, I'm afraid I'd have to tune it in fourths, just to get my head around where the notes are. Is that cheating?
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:33 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratbastid
I play bass guitar in a band, but I'd love to play an upright. I'm such a guitar-oriented critter, though, I'm afraid I'd have to tune it in fourths, just to get my head around where the notes are. Is that cheating?
Upright bass is tuned in fourths.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BenChuy
Have you played any that you loved? Any that you would stay away from?
Do you want to play classical double bass, or are you interested in playing jazz, folk, bluegrass or pop upright bass?
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:17 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allaboutmusic
Upright bass is tuned in fourths.
Rilly? I thought it was tuned in fifths like the other bowed strings...

Well that would definitely help me out.
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:27 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Old 06-19-2008, 01:21 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratbastid
Rilly? I thought it was tuned in fifths like the other bowed strings...

Well that would definitely help me out.
I had to go look that up. I know a fiddler and I know she tunes E-A-D-G, so I assumed that the viol family was tuned in fourths. It turns out that wikipedia agrees with you though, and says that the double bass is the only one that's tuned the other way. It never occurred to me that she was tuning backwards -- then again, she might say the same thing about me.
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Old 06-19-2008, 03:28 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Violin and double bass are both tuned EADG, but that's high-to-low for violin and low-to-high for double bass (and 4-string electric bass). Yeah I know... but as a music teacher I pretty much know all the tunings, ranges and transpositions for all the orchestral instruments!
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Old 06-19-2008, 03:30 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Well, I am looking to do some jazz, random rock applications and bluegrass with it. A heavy dose of classical training would likely be helpful, but the previous uses are its main foci.
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Old 06-19-2008, 03:39 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allaboutmusic
Violin and double bass are both tuned EADG, but that's high-to-low for violin and low-to-high for double bass (and 4-string electric bass). Yeah I know... but as a music teacher I pretty much know all the tunings, ranges and transpositions for all the orchestral instruments!
I understand that. Likewise a fifth is an inverted fourth (and vice versa) so reversing the tuning takes it from perfect fourths to perfect fifths. My confusion came from the assumption that when my fiddler friend said that she tunes her strings E-A-D-G she meant it in the same way as a bass guitar or mandolin or (insert 4 string instrument that's not a viol here).

Unless fiddlers do it the right way 'round, which come to think of it is possible; that would put their range more in line with other string instruments that one might be likely to encounter in, say, a bluegrass band.
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Old 06-19-2008, 04:09 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martian
Unless fiddlers do it the right way 'round, which come to think of it is possible; that would put their range more in line with other string instruments that one might be likely to encounter in, say, a bluegrass band.
The fifths tuning works well with violin and viola as they have a much shorter scale which allows them to access four-note-per-string scale patterns and wide intervals without moving about much. I have seen players tuning their double basses or electric bass guitars in fifths and have tried it myself, but the longer scale makes it less comfortable for me and I'm already too used to my scale shapes now!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BenChuy
Well, I am looking to do some jazz, random rock applications and bluegrass with it. A heavy dose of classical training would likely be helpful, but the previous uses are its main foci.
My counsel would be to take a few lessons. Firstly, it is a tough instrument technically AND physically and you can easily injure yourself if you're not playing right. Secondly, after a while you're likely to get a good feel for what you want in a starter instrument, whether you want an electrified instrument (or acoustic with pickup) for playing with an amp or whether you want a solid, carved-top acoustic-only instrument for playing purely "unplugged", and a good teacher will be able to advise you specifically much better than I will. I personally like my electric upright as I can take it on the London Underground and bus much more easily than an acoustic upright... but it only works if you have amplification.
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Old 06-19-2008, 05:54 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martian
or mandolin
Bad news: mandolins are tuned in fifths like violins.

Incidentally, I wouldn't be surprised if "fiddling" and "playing violin" are as different in tuning as they are in most every other way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by allaboutmusic
I'm already too used to my scale shapes now!
Oh god, totally. I've been a full-time bassist in a band for the last nine months or so, and going over to a fifths-tuned instrument would be agonizing. It's bad enough when my songwriter decides to transpose songs on the fly and yells her capo position to me as the drummer is counting us in....

Last edited by ratbastid; 06-19-2008 at 05:57 PM.. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 06-19-2008, 06:17 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratbastid
Bad news: mandolins are tuned in fifths like violins.

Incidentally, I wouldn't be surprised if "fiddling" and "playing violin" are as different in tuning as they are in most every other way.


Oh god, totally. I've been a full-time bassist in a band for the last nine months or so, and going over to a fifths-tuned instrument would be agonizing. It's bad enough when my songwriter decides to transpose songs on the fly and yells her capo position to me as the drummer is counting us in....
I was not aware of that. I've never played a mandolin before. I do know that they're four courses of two strings each, but beyond that I can't say I know anything about that.

Also, your guitarist/songwriter is evil. The least she could do is give you a proper key to work with. Doing it in your head with nothing but a capo position is kind of a pain in the ass.
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:27 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratbastid
Oh god, totally. I've been a full-time bassist in a band for the last nine months or so, and going over to a fifths-tuned instrument would be agonizing. It's bad enough when my songwriter decides to transpose songs on the fly and yells her capo position to me as the drummer is counting us in....
It's fun to change tunings up once in a while. I often play around with retuning my low-E down to a C or C# and finding new funkiness.

Michael Manring takes retuning to a completely new level though...

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Old 06-20-2008, 03:06 AM   #21 (permalink)
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damn..........that dude has hip-shot tuners on every tuning peg........that's kinda neat.
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Old 06-20-2008, 06:59 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Check out the TalkBass double bass forums. Research the forums, it should give you a good idea of where to start.

I wish I had the extra money to spend on a bass and lessons. It is probably the instrument I am most obsessed with.
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Old 06-20-2008, 09:27 PM   #23 (permalink)
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picking up the instrument, be aware they are expensive.

I would suggest strongly, this from my friends who are double bassists (many of them since I'm a jazz musician and play with bassists all the time) is to get classical lessons first, just for a little while. Purpose being, proper technique with your left hand thus getting good intonation and tone.

Then if you want to hit the Jazz thing or whatever you can move onto other stuff. But the Classical lessons will really help you a lot!

And good for you, more people need to be hip to acoustic bass. To me, it's the best sound there is.
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Old 07-01-2008, 07:40 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Doubles Basses Under 2K..good luck

Quote:
Originally Posted by BenChuy
I foolishly played an upright this weekend and discovered that I loved the sound, the feel and the difficulty of the double bass and am now in the market. Does anyone have any rules of thumb for buying one?

any recommendations for the sub-2k market (or approximately around there)?

Any cautionary tails?
Hi:
Typically laminate (plywood) Double Basses only sell less than $2000.US. The better basses typically needed to get a good sound for classical or jazz are the carved ones. These basses usually start above $3k and go way on up from there, unfortunately. Beware of plywoods less than $1k. They tend not to function very well. For a beginner classical or Jazz, you might be able to find a descent plywood for around $2K (but probably a little above~$2300). I just sold a plywood Meisel for that price. It was not a bad bass for a plywood. A good link for finding basses is:
http://www.gollihurmusic.com/luthiers.cfm
or
lemurmusic.com

Bluegrass or rockabilly Basses selling around $2k or a little under are okay.
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Old 07-02-2008, 05:14 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Oh hell.

I followed that link... And there's a shop specializing in basses about three blocks from my house.

I'm in trouble, guys.
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Old 07-02-2008, 06:20 PM   #26 (permalink)
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What Luck!

I wish I lived so close to a Bass shop...then again it's probably good that I don't. It could be dangerously expensive...
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Old 07-03-2008, 07:17 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Possible good bass for $2,250 US

If you live anywhere near the Nashville area, I would also highly recommend talking to Dustin Williams of williamsfineviolins.com. He really knows Double Basses and is well respected.. He has a Samuel Shen, hybrid (part carved and part laminate) for $2,250.00 on his website . I may have played that one when I was there once. If it is the same one, it is a good lower price bass for a beginner Jazz or classical player. ( I have been playing classical for many years. One of my basses is worth about $12k, which is really not that much for fine double bass instruments. I could be wrong but I'm guessing the average price for a fulltime pro symphony player's bass is probably around $20-25k to give you an idea of what we are dealing with here.) I hope this helps....

Last edited by LifesTooShort2; 07-03-2008 at 07:19 PM.. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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