Buying Your First Double Bass

When people first contact me about starting double bass lesson the immediate question is where should I get an instrument?  Should I buy or rent?  For the person just starting out I always recommend renting a bass before you spend $2000 or more on an instrument.  Some places even offer a rent to own option where the money used on the rental can be applied to an upgraded instrument.


So lets say you have rented an instrument you love playing the double bass and you want to find an instrument that is your own.  The most important pieces of advice I have for you are. 1. Go to a shop the specialize's in Double bass. If one is not near by then a reputable violin shop in your area will do.  Either way you will be trying instruments that have been properly set up which is key to trying out instruments. 2.  Have patience.  You do not have to buy a bass at the first place you visit and nor should you feel pressured to.  I visited the same shop a year or so apart and first there were basses I like but nothing that truly grabbed my attention.  When I returned a year later I found the double bass that I still play to this day.


The next step is focusing on an instrument that fits your needs.  A bass that is a great classical instrument that can be the anchor of a bass section in a symphony may not be a great jazz or bluegrass instrument.  Also don’t focus on a brand of bass that doesn’t really apply all that much in the bass world.  You will hear talk about how different countries bass builders have certain sounds and this does tend to be true.  With Italian basses being big and dark, French basses more focused and with a brighter sound and German basses somewhere in the middle of the two.  Please again go into buying an instrument with no disposition, always being open to every uniqueness of each individual bass.


Play the same piece’s of music on each bass.  Start with some octave scales so you get an idea of how the instrument sounds through out it full range and how feels shifting into various positions on the bass.  Next play a song or two that you have committed to memory.  I like to play a nice “pretty” song as well as a fast more aggressive one.  You will hopefully start to get a feel of the range of emotion that each particular instrument creates.   Do this with all the basses in  your price range, if you start to find one or two that you like come back to them as you explore the rest of the basses and play a few different things on them.


One very useful thing is to have a fellow bass player or two come with you.  That way you can step in front of the instrument. Seeing how the instrument projects and what its tone is like from “behind the Box”.  Another reason for having a friend along is they might notice something good or bad about the instrument that you might have missed.   If you don’t have anyone to take with you, once you have narrowed your choices down to a few basses the salesperson should be able to play the instrument for you. But we all know a friend is always better.


Once you have found a double bass you want to take home, most stores offer a weeks trial period with a down payment via a credit card or check.  This gives you the opportunity to take the bass and play it in your band or orchestra for your friends and teachers and really decide if it is the one for you.


I hope this article gives you a brief insight in to purchasing a Double Bass.   I wish you luck finding the instrument that will bring you and your audience musical joy.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.   

Holding and Owning A Groove the art of Bass Zen Mastery

In this bass lesson I want to focus on something that is one of the fundamental roles of the bass player, holding and owning a groove or part.  What I mean by this is the ability to hold tight to the groove/bass line you have created no matter what sort of cacophony might be going on around you.  We often as bass players feel as though we need to do something more to our bass parts as the song progresses.  It needs a more notes or to vary the rhythm but more times then not the music is best served by sticking to the K.I.S.S. method.  Keep It Simple Stupid


Box Shape For Bass Guitar

In this bass guitar lesson we are going to take a look at the “Box Shape”.  This is a left hand position that is very useful in when developing a bass line’s that have a “groove” or “hook” feel to them.  Prime examples of this shape are the verse to The Temptations Get Ready, The Beatles Taxman and the blues classic Messin’ With The Kid.



Tips for Practicing With A Metronome

In this music lesson we are gonna to look at a musicians favorite and most hated friend the Metronome.  There will more than likely be points when you will want to throw said metronome against the wall but remember rhythmic timing is the black and white, right or wrong of music.

There are some music educators who are against the use of metronome and argue that we all have innate since of timing but unfortunately this is not true. When I was in college my African drumming instructor from Ghana Dr. Daniel Avorbedogr told me the following story.  In village is Gahanna everyone is giving the opportunity to be part of the tribal drumming circle from a very young age.  However it quickly becomes apparent which children can't keep time and are giving another craft to hone their skills on.

Now it’s not to say one can’t learn to keep a beat(steady rhythm) but for some this will be prove to be a monumental task.


Scales on One String For the Double Bass

In this double bass lesson we are going to look at playing our major and harmonic minor scales on one string of the double bass. As bassist’s we spend a lot of time practicing our scales with a multitude of fingerings across multiple strings.Skipping over the basic step of simply playing the G major scale up and down the G string. This is beneficial in several ways. It helps us physically see the distance of the intervals that make up the scale.  These etudes are also a great work out for our shifting and intonation.  Something all of us double bass players must constantly practice.


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