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  • Dealing with Awkward Keys when Transposing on Bass

    Dealing with Awkward Keys when Transposing on Bass

    Q: I’ve been asked to play Billy Ocean’s “When The Going Gets Tough” transposed down to B, which is down in the murky depths of the B string, and I feel it takes away from the bass line. Going up an octave makes it seem thin. Any advice on how I could remedy this issue,... »

  • Isolating Your Right Hand: Exercises for Bassists

    Isolating Your Right Hand: Exercises for Bassists

    When confronted with a difficult passage that just isn’t getting any better, most of us will isolate the left hand to improve our accuracy. We may change from arco to pizzicato to isolate the left hand. We may “shadow bow” the passage. Perhaps we may finger the strings in the left hand alone, completely taking... »

  • Singing and Playing: A How-To Guide for Independence for Bass Players

    Singing and Playing: A How-To Guide for Independence for Bass Players

    Q: I have great vocal chops, which I exercise frequently in my alter ego solo acoustic guitarist thing. I play bass in a blues/R&B band and have the best vocal talent in the band. But I can’t sing over a bass line to save my behind. Can this be learned? Any tips? A: Keep in... »

  • Developing Speed on the Bass: Take Your Time

    Developing Speed on the Bass: Take Your Time

    Q: I have been playing upright for about a year and wanted to know what I can do about developing speed. I mostly play jazz and at the college I go to it seems like everyone wants to play uptempo tunes (Charlie Parker, Rhythm Changes, etc.) I feel as though I’m falling behind trying to... »

  • More Forked Fingering Techniques: Using the Thumb

    More Forked Fingering Techniques: Using the Thumb

    Last time we talked about playing fourths across strings using two adjacent fingers, a concept sometimes called “forked fingering.” For example: We can, of course, use the same exact concept in the upper registers of the bass, or thumb position. For example: As mentioned before, this can be easier to execute effectively in the upper... »

  • Forked Fingering: A Guide to Comfortable Double Stops for Bassists

    Forked Fingering: A Guide to Comfortable Double Stops for Bassists

    Playing fourths across strings on the upright bass can be fraught with problems, especially when we are playing double stops. Sometimes it is appropriate to “bar” the notes using the same finger like this: However, this can create a clamping of the hand and needless tension, which in turn limits our facility and ability to... »

  • Thumb Position: Major Scale Fingering for Bass

    Thumb Position: Major Scale Fingering for Bass

    There are a multitude of fingerings for any particular scale, and no single fingering is appropriate for every situation. In fact, the most effective fingering for any specific passage will be related to musical issues, not technical ones. Some scale fingerings, however, prove to be useful in a great many situations and are worth having... »

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  • Expanding Your Voice on Bass: Inflections and Articulations

    Expanding Your Voice on Bass: Inflections and Articulations

    Q: I notice bassists adding what I would call a “slur”, but I think the correct term would be trill at the end of lines and phrases. I really dig the effect, but my hands and mind are not naturally inclined to do this. What would you recommend to help me work on this? A:... »

  • Bass Technique: Shifting and the Feeling of Lightness

    Bass Technique: Shifting and the Feeling of Lightness

    Accurate shifting is extremely important on an upright bass. It may even be the one technique we use the most often. Most other string instruments can play a few two-octave scales without shifting, while we can play a grand total of zero, even if we “pivot.” Despite how often we must execute flawless shift, for... »

  • Improving Clarity: Left Hand/Right Hand Coordination

    Improving Clarity: Left Hand/Right Hand Coordination

    There are several reasons why a passage may sound sloppy. One of the more prevalent ones, however, is incorrect coordination between the two hands during passages of separate (i.e. not slurred) notes. For such passages, the fingers must completely stop the string before the right hand, or bow, articulates. While studying violin pedagogy with Mimi... »