Friday, October 18, 2013

My String Bass Practice Routine: It's Working!

My Calin Wultur Panormo
Carved String Bass
I have been playing my upright bass for the past 3 or 4 days, using Vince Guaraldi's Christmas album as the music to accompany.  My idea was to bring myself up to speed, physically, on the string bass so I can look for bands and gigs.

The practice routine is working.  Each day I seem stronger and can play longer before tiring out.  In fact, my progress is faster than I expected.  The first couple of days provided a blister on my right index finger -- the one used for plucking.  It's no longer sore and is becoming a callous.

Some aspects of playing an upright or string bass should be considered carefully before switching from bass guitar.  The upright bass is much more physically demanding.  You may be able to remove some of the stress by using medium or light gauge strings instead of heavy gauge.  I changed mine, and the results were quite beneficial.  Lighter gauge strings don't have as much volume, but if you are amplifying your bass with a pickup or microphone, that doesn't really matter.

Another physically demanding aspect of the upright is the neck.  Yes, it is much thicker and also much longer.  However, the length does not give you more notes.  The upright bass neck actually offers you less notes, not more.  The neck is long, but so are the half steps (what would be frets on a bass guitar) down the bass.  An upright player must use the open strings more often than is necessary on a bass guitar.

I was surprised this week to find how easily I can press the strings to play arpeggios and bass lines.  Yes, the neck is thick, but not so thick that an experienced bass guitarist can't handle it.

In short, my conquest of the string bass is easier than I expected, though it does require effort.  My next goal is to buy the best pickup for the bass that I can afford.  That will cost me around $195   Ouch.

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