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  • Technique Series: Pizzicato (Plucking) Exercises

    Technique Series: Pizzicato (Plucking) Exercises

    The simple, straightforward exercises below are the best I have seen to develop and maintain right hand pizzicato (plucking) on the upright bass. They isolate the technique to focus one just one thing: your right hand technique. There is certainly room in a practice routine to work on right hand/left hand coordination, or tricky patterns,... »

  • Flying with an Upright Bass

    Flying with an Upright Bass

    Many bassists will, at some point, find it necessary to fly with their upright bass. Although a professional bassist should be able to play acceptably on any bass that is thrown at them, there are a number of reasons why we want to play our own instrument on the road. If you are doing anything... »

  • The Lowdown with Dr. D: Mastering a Difficult Passage with Repetition

    The Lowdown with Dr. D: Mastering a Difficult Passage with Repetition

    In the course of mastering a difficult passage, we will end up playing the passage many, many times. However, if we do so blindly, we just waste our time. In fact, such mindless repetition can be detrimental. Additionally, if our mind wanders, then it is unlikely that we are actually improving the passage, so again... »

  • The Lowdown with Dr. D.: “Heavy” Bows

    The Lowdown with Dr. D.: “Heavy” Bows

    Here’s a question I received recently from Miguel G., and one I hear often: Q: Someone told me you use a super-heavy bow. Is this true? Can you tell me what this is all about? A: This is a very expansive subject, but here’s a bit of an introduction to the topic. It is true... »

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  • The Treatment: Gaining Familiarity With a New Tune (Part 2 of 2)

    The Treatment: Gaining Familiarity With a New Tune (Part 2 of 2)

    My jazz students and I often work through a process we call “The Treatment.” It’s a tune-based approach and I view it as a preparation for high-level study of improvisation. Once you can navigate a tune using the Treatment, you can more easily work on musical and artistic elements of improvisation. I adjust the Treatment... »

  • The Treatment: Gaining Familiarity With a New Tune (Part 1 of 2)

    When improvising, we are freest when we have deeply internalized a song on multiple levels. Before we can improvise the “solo to end all solos,” however, we must have fully assimilated the tune. The fewer rudimentary thoughts we must hold in our mind (such as: what scale goes with this chord?, what fingering can I... »

  • Common Upright Bass Tunings (Part 2 of 2)

    This is part 2 of the Common Upright Bass Tunings series. This time, we’ll cover 5 String Tunings, C extensions and some practice suggestions. Check out Part 1. Five String Tunings As long as there have been basses, there have been basses with 5 strings. Traditionally, the extra string has been used to extend the... »

  • Common Upright Bass Tunings (Part 1 of 2)

    One of the beautiful things about upright bassists is their unwillingness to conform. When it comes to tuning, we often refuse to conform not only to the practices of other instruments in our family, but also to each other! Although 3 string basses are largely a thing of the past, there are still uprights with... »

  • Rhythm Series: Improving Your Time

    Rhythm Series: Improving Your Time

    Having good “time,” or sense of pulse, is an essential skill for all musicians and bassists in particular. So much of what we do is reliant upon having a solid, steady and accurate pulse. In fact, I find a highly developed sense of time to be as important as a highly developed sense of pitch,... »

  • The Lowdown with Dr. D.: Buying Your First Bow

    The Lowdown with Dr. D.: Buying Your First Bow

    Using the bow on an Upright Bass can open up a world of creative possibilities. Most people who get into it never get out! Before you can wow and amaze your friends, however, you will need to own a bow. When you start investigating bass bows you will find that there are two main styles... »