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The Lowdown with Dr. D - Page 4

Multi-Stop Travel With Your Bass – Part 2: Packing/Luggage/Bass

Multi-Stop Travel With Your Bass – Part 2: Packing/Luggage/Bass

Most people realize that there are special considerations when flying with your upright bass. These considerations are significantly expanded if your musical journey requires a series of planes, trains, and automobiles, before you arrive back at your home door. With this in mind, I’d like to continue my discussion from last time by talking about some of the precautions I...

Multi-Stop Travel With Your Bass – Part 1: Physical Preparation

Multi-Stop Travel With Your Bass – Part 1: Physical Preparation

Most people realize that there are special considerations when flying with your upright bass. These considerations are significantly expanded if your musical journey requires a series of planes, trains, and automobiles, before you arrive back at your home door. With this in mind, I’d like to address three subjects in this series about Multi-Stop Travel: Physical Preparation, Personal Packing (luggage)...

Introduction to Chromatic Scales

Introduction to Chromatic Scales

For many bassists, the chromatic scale is an underused resource in their practice toolkit. Properly approached, practicing chromatic scales can vastly improve our shifting, intonation and mental map of the fingerboard. Below are a few beginner exercises using the chromatic scale that I find to be useful for those just becoming more familiar with it. Single string 1 8va chromatic...

Learning a Tune “On the Spot”

Learning a Tune “On the Spot”

Last week I received a question about how to memorize a tune fast: “…For example, [bassist] playing a jazz tune you’ve never played before with a pianist as they shout out the changes for one chorus, then stop for the second. How can we develop skills to memorize these changes instantly?” No doubt the situation you describe can be stressful,...

Memorization: Tips for Bass Players

Memorization: Tips for Bass Players

I received the following question this week from a concerned double bassist: “How can I keep from having memory slips on stage?” Even experienced performers may have the occasional memory faux pas on stage. However, there are some things we can do to minimize the risk. Be prepared early. The earlier you can play something from memory in the practice...

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Preferred Scale Books for Bass Players

Preferred Scale Books for Bass Players

Recently I’ve been getting a lot of people asking for recommendations for “good” scale books for the double bassist. This is an interesting subject, as there so many books out there! Furthermore, whether a scale book is “good” or not often depends not on their content, but rather how they are applied. This is why a good teacher and a...

Avoiding Discomfort and Pain When Playing the Upright Bass

Avoiding Discomfort and Pain When Playing the Upright Bass

It should be physically easy to play the upright bass. When we experience discomfort or pain, during or after playing, it is our body’s way of telling us that we are doing something wrong. While each body is unique, there are general guidelines all bassists can follow which will reduce the potential for bass-related injury. Below are some general recommendations...

Classification of Three Types of Thumb Position on the Double Bass

Classification of Three Types of Thumb Position on the Double Bass

When we speak of thumb position on the bass we are referring to a left hand (l.h.) fingering system where the thumb is used to depress the string. The thumb is on top of the board (rather than behind the neck) and it presses the string down like any other finger. However, often telling someone to “play that in thumb...

Thumb Position Below the Half Point of the String on Double Bass

Thumb Position Below the Half Point of the String on Double Bass

Although I sometimes use a 1-2-3-4 fingering technique below the half point of the string (12th fret, if we had frets), I often find a thumb position fingering to be more efficient, easier on the hand and, most importantly, more accurate. Of course, many bass players first learn thumb position starting at the half point of the string (G harmonic...

Some Thoughts on the 1-2-3-4 Fingering System for Double Bass

Some Thoughts on the 1-2-3-4 Fingering System for Double Bass

For as long as there have been bassists, there has been debate about what fingering system to use. While most players today use a three-finger technique (1-2-4, or the Italian 1-3-4) some suggest a four-finger technique, especially in the middle positions (i.e. between D and G on the G string). One of the main arguments for using a 1-2-3-4 system...