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The Lowdown with Dr. D - Page 2

My Double Bass Setup: Part 3 – String Spacing and String Height

My Double Bass Setup: Part 3 – String Spacing and String Height

String Spacing My string spacing at the nut is approximately 8 millimeters between each string and my string spacing at the bridge is about 22 millimeters between each string. By contrast a more traditional setup might be 10 mm at the nut and 28 mm at the bridge. Although this particular change may seem small (8 vs. 10 and 22...

My Double Bass Setup: Part 2 – Number of Strings, Tuning and Fingerboard Length

My Double Bass Setup: Part 2 – Number of Strings, Tuning and Fingerboard Length

I play a five-string bass with both a higher string and a low C, via an extension. My specific tuning is (from lowest to highest) C, B, E, A, D. The low C string can be tuned via capos (on the C extension) to any chromatic note between C and E (the more standard low string on a double bass)....

My Double Bass Setup: Part 1 – The Bow

My Double Bass Setup: Part 1 – The Bow

Usually in this column I talk about general double bass (upright bass) subjects, or answer specific questions that I think will be of benefit to the largest number of readers. Lately, however, I’ve been getting a great many questions about my personal bass setup. So, in the next few columns I’m going to go through some of the things that...

Should I Play French or German Bow?

Should I Play French or German Bow?

Q: I’m just starting out and I can’t figure out if I should play French or German bow? – Marisol G. A: One of the seemingly most controversial, yet entirely manufactured non-controversies among double bass players is whether one should play using an overhand (aka “French”) bow or an underhand (aka “German”) bow. Note: “German” and “French” are used here...

Dealing with Stamina Issues on Bass

Dealing with Stamina Issues on Bass

Q: I’ve been playing upright for the past few months, and I’m having some stamina problems in my left hand. Someone said that maybe the neck is too thick. Do you think having the neck thinned out would help with my stamina? Thanks! – Marian A: It’s great to hear you are playing upright bass these days! Welcome! Thinning out...

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Maximizing Resonance with the Bow

Maximizing Resonance with the Bow

If you play the bass long enough you’ll hear someone talking about making a “resonant” sound. When we are searching for a resonant sound we are attempting to create an unrestricted sound, one with some “depth,” where the strings and the bass itself both vibrate freely. Obviously, some basses vibrate more easily than others. These tend to be the more...

Getting Started: A Beginner’s Guide to Improvising a Bass Line

Getting Started: A Beginner’s Guide to Improvising a Bass Line

Whether you are a beginning bassist, or an accomplished musician who is simply accustomed to reading written music, it can be daunting when first asked to improvise a bass line. Some people stumble, others freeze. Some think they need to be well versed in college level theory. However, there is no reason to fear even if you know only a...

Some Thoughts on Playing at Fast Tempi

Some Thoughts on Playing at Fast Tempi

At some point, someone at the gig is going to call a tune at breakneck speed. Trying to keep solid time at a blistering pace can be physically and mentally exhausting for a bassist. We might drag, or miss a change. We can help mitigate these issues by applying a few ideas when playing an exceptionally upbeat tune. Breathe We...

Why Memorize Music?

Why Memorize Music?

Some musical situations all but require the use of printed music. For example, larger ensembles, such as a Jazz Big Band or a Symphony Orchestra, universally use printed music. This is primarily due to the complexity of the compositions/arrangements, the short rehearsal time for each work, the sometimes-enormous length of the works, etc. However, in smaller groups (i.e. jazz combos...

Working with Printed Transcriptions

Working with Printed Transcriptions

Studying transcriptions of masterful performances can provide a wealth of learning material for a musician. Musically speaking, we will gain the most by completing our own transcriptions, entirely by ear, of course. However, there is still a great deal to be gained by working from published transcriptions by other musicians, provided we approach them in the right way. Certainly there...