STUDENT RESOURCES:

An Introduction to the DOUBLE BASS (STRING BASS)

by Bob Shann, Music & Arts Lesson Instructor

Tools for Success

Music Stand Shop Now >

A music stand is required for proper posture. The height of the stand should be just below eye level. Also, make sure there is enough room for the bow to have access to all of the strings.

Rosin Shop Now >

Rosin is applied to the bow to help it make good contact with the strings. Rosin comes in a dark or light formula. The dark is recommended.

Metronome Shop Now >

The metronome is an electronic device that produces clicking sounds and can be adjusted to play fast or slow tempos. It is important to get one that is loud enough to hear over the sounds of the bass.

CHROMATIC TUNER Shop Now >

This is an electronic device that helps the student have the correct tuning of all the strings. Tuning is the first thing that should be done prior to every practice session. It is also important to get one that can clip on to the bridge or headstock.

Polishing Cloth Shop Now >

Use a soft polishing cloth to clean the strings and bass of rosin after every practice. Rosin build up on the strings will cause the strings to wear out faster.

NOTEBOOK

Enter details of the lesson and what to practice for the week.

PENCILS

Necessary to write fingerings on music the student is working on and to keep a practice log.

About Your String Bass

TUNING MACHINES

Tuning machines are located at the top of the bass in the peg box. These turn to tune each string to the correct pitch prior to practicing.

STRINGS Shop Now >

The string bass has four strings tuned E, A, D, G. The E sting is the lowest and thickest string.

Strings

The cello has four(4) strings. Listed in ascending order, they are: C, G, D, A. The C is the thickest and lowest sounding string. The A is the highest sounding string, and the thinnest.

Fingerboard

The fingerboard is the long black piece of wood right below the strings. The strings are pressed against the fingerboard to create different notes. It is important to keep the fingerboard clean.

Bridge Shop Now >

The bridge is the piece of wood located in between the fingerboard and the tailpiece and holds the strings up. The bridge will sometimes have adjusters on each foot and are used to raise or lower string height. Keeping the bridge in the correct position is critical. The bridge is only held on by the pressure of the tuned strings.

Sound Post

A cylindrical piece of wood located inside the bass between the front and back of the bass and under the G string side of the bridge. It is very important that the sound post is located in the correct position. It is only held in place by the pressure of the strings on the bridge. If the sound post falls detune the bass and take to the repair shop

end pin

The end pin is adjusted to raise the bass up to the correct playing position.

Sound Post

The sound post is a wooden rod located on the inside of the cello. You can usually see it by looking through the f-holes. It helps to amplify the sound of the cello, and also adds to its structural integrity.

About Your Bow

Stick

The stick is the long piece of wood or composite material.

Frog Shop Now >

The bow frog is the end part of the bow that encloses the mechanism that is responsible for tightening and loosening the bow hair.

Hair

Hair is made from horse hair or synthetic material. The hair of the bow is what makes the string vibrate to create sound when the bow is moved across the strings. Rosin is applied to the hair of the bow to help make good contact with the strings.

Screw

The screw is located at the end of the bow and is used to tighten and loosen the bow hair.

CORRECT PLAYING POSITION OF THE STRING BASS

The bass comes in different sizes. The most common size is the ¾ bass. The sizes range from 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 7/8, and 4/4 or full size. 4/4 is rare and very difficult to play because of the size. All basses play and tune the same way. Beginning age is generally 8 to 9 years old depending on height.

The correct position to play the bass starts with the player holding the bass with the left arm extended holding the neck. Then let the neck come towards your left shoulder. The corner of the back of the upper bout should come to rest on the stomach area at approximately a 25 to 30 degree inclination. The student should be standing in an upright position with his or her weight distributed evenly on both feet. Keeping a good posture is critical while playing the bass. The left hand should have “C” shape with the thump perpendicular to the floor and using the finger tips to produce the sounds of the notes. The left elbow should be keep up roughly even to slightly lower with the shoulder while playing.

PRACTICE TIME

Practice time should be the same time during the school week and consist of at least 25 minutes every day. The weekend can be at different times but the time practicing should be a little longer. A day off every now and again is okay. Not practicing for 3 days then doing an hour time will not be beneficial to learning. Your instructor will help put a plan together to have a successful practice regime.

MAINTAINING YOUR BASS

Always protect your bass from simple accidents. When not playing, lay the bass on its side with the bridge facing towards a wall out of the way of busy areas. While transporting the bass with or without the case on carry it with the neck resting on the right shoulder and the bridge facing to the left. Do not stand the bass upright against a corner. Do not put the bow in the “F” holes. Keep an eye on the bridge which should be 90 degrees to the face with the feet aligned with the notches on the “F” holes. Keep your bass humidified during the winter months or in any extremely dry environments. Keep your bass clean of rosin and dirt on the fingerboard. Make sure to loosen the bow after each use. Have you bass checked out every year or so to make sure everything stays in excellent working order.

OVERVIEW

To be successful at playing the string bass it is important to learn to read music. Because there are no frets on the string bass getting good intonation is critical. Learning the different left hand positions for all of the notes is best achieved by working with the bow. For the study of jazz, theory or understating how music works is critical. Having a good instructor is so important to learning this instrument. The string bass is a beautiful instrument and is fundamental to supplying the foundation of many music venues. A good bass player is always in demand.

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