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Intonation Archives

Getting Better Intonation on a Fretless Bass
Ask Damian Erskine

Getting Better Intonation on a Fretless Bass

Q: I’ve recently made a switch from fretted to fretless bass, and so far it’s been awesome, but here’s the thing… A couple of the fretted basses I’ve played so far were all 34-inch scale, and the fretless I now play is a 35-inch scale six-string – and it’s unlined. So stretching my fingers that wide is becoming a pain...

Challenges to Good Intonation in a Live Situation
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Challenges to Good Intonation in a Live Situation

Good intonation is a lifelong concern for every double bassist. We train our ears, we work constantly to match pitch, and we devote large sections of our individual practice sessions to improving it. Among other things, the sheer size of the instrument demands our constant attention to pitch. Sometimes though, even players who normally have impeccable intonation can have issues...

Intonation or Feel? Practicing Scales Purposefully
Ask Damian Erskine

Intonation or Feel? Practicing Scales Purposefully

Q: I was wondering what I need to pay attention to when practicing. It’s easy to learn a scale, or to play chord tones, but what should I really pay attention to hearing more? Should that be a focus on the tones, or the difference in intonation or the “feel” between them? A: The short answer is this: You have...

Strategies for Better Intonation
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Strategies for Better Intonation

If you are an upright bassist, then intonation is on your mind. I’ve talked in the past about using drones to help solidify intonation, but this is just one of seemingly innumerable strategies to improve pitch. Today we’ll touch on a few other approaches. You can do all of these exercises with music you are working on or, of course,...

Working with Drones – Introduction: Improving Intonation
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Working with Drones – Introduction: Improving Intonation

One of the best ways I know to increase one’s intonational precision is to play against a held drone note. It is excellent not only for left hand finger spacing, shifting, but also for improving one’s aural pitch discrimination. You can create your own drone note using a looper, midi program, etc. or your metronome or tuner may have the...