Hi, it's Geoff Chalmers here. I'm the founder of DiscoverDoubleBass.com.
It's an online educational resource for double bass players. There's loads
of free video lessons, and if you haven't had a look, maybe you want to
check them out at the end of this lesson.
In this lesson we're looking at two things. How to set the height
correctly for the double bass and how to stand correctly with a double
bass. We're looking at issues with posture. There's also a follow-on
lesson that you might want to have a look at after this lesson, which
covers how to sit correctly. So let's get started and look at how you can
achieve a really comfortable natural standing position.
The double bass is such a large instrument that if you aren't standing
correctly, or sitting correctly or the height is not right you won't be
able to allow your arms in the right way and hands in the right way to
achieve good technique. So if you're new to the bass, or if you just want
to make sure that you're building everything you do on great foundations,
this is a good lesson to watch.
Now one thing I just want to mention to you is there are a lot of different
ways to play the double bass. And the area that we cover today is quite
subjective. I've looked at this in detail and this is my way of showing
you. This is my suggested method. I think it's the easiest method. I
think it's the one that will help you the most and the easiest to
understand, but of course you will find double bass players who are playing
with different posture and techniques, but I think it's certainly worth
considering this one first.
Okay, so let's have a look at how to set the height of the bass. First of
all extend your end pin a couple of inches, and bring the bass upright,
stand pretty much vertically next to it. Not really in a playing position,
just a long side the bass. And let's have a look and see where the Nut is.
This is the reference point that we use to make sure that we have the
correct height for the bass, and is should be roughly in lined with your
head, the top of your head.
Now we're not in playing position so let's move back into playing position.
I'm going to take a step backwards. I'm just going to check that I'm
vertical, I'm upright and vertical and so is the bass. So there's not a
kind of angle, we're both up right, at arms length, and that will be the
correct way to bring the bass towards you, and it should lower it down and
hopefully, let's have a look. Yeah, it's somewhere about in line with the
top of my eyebrows.
It could be just above the eyebrows, it's just if I turn and look directly
at the neck it will be slightly out of my line of vision. We don't want it
to be too high, we don't want it with our hair line because one of the
problems is that you'll end up having to raise your left hand above your
head and for me, I think that causes problems. Your hands will go numb, it
makes the whole thing a lot harder.
As I said earlier, people do do it a different way, I think that this is
the easiest. So how did you bring the bass towards you then? Let's have a
look. I'm using the palm of my hand against the heel of then neck, just
grabbing the bass like that. And again pushing it out, you probably have
to move around a bit, here we are. Okay, I've got to the point where my
arms just nice and relaxed. I'm upright, and the bass is upright. As I
said earlier, you pull it back into you to align the Nut. So the bass is
on an angle leaning towards you. It's really important to get that right.
Now let's have a look at what part of the bass is touching what part the
body. It's this part here, this is the corner where the back meets the
rib. And mine's pretty worn away here, where it's been resting against my
body. You'll notice that it's not flat like this. And this is what all
sort of anyone who picks a double bass who isn't a bass player will do.
They'll stand with it and kind of behind like this and, this is great.
What you want to do is actually have it resting against you on this angle,
so it's balancing against your body. That's the key thing to remember.
It's not flat against it, it's balancing there, and it moves as you play.
We'll have a look at it in just a second.
We've got the corner of the bass here. What part of the body is it resting
against? Well it's somewhere from the center to the side. For me it's in
between those two points and it's just above the belt line. My belt's
here, and it rests against my stomach in between the two points, in the
middle of the body to the side of the body.
Now what's to stop the bass from falling over either to the right, or to
the left. It can't go forward because it's leaning into us. Well the
left, it's a left hand, we don't support the weight of the bass with the
left hand, but if the bass is moving in that direction, that's the way that
we stop it.
How do we do it in this direction? That's with your left knee. Now we'll
notice I've been standing with my legs... I've just stood normally,
essentially. But if I want to control the bass with my knee, I just have
to move my left knee forward and you can see here it's touching the bottom
Bout, this area of the bass, the back of the bass here.
I can actually balance the bass like this. This stops it from moving away
from me to my right if it went back to my left I'd have to grab hold of it
with my hand. So it's a great thing to do just practice standing with the
bass, because the better that you can balance the bass the less that you'll
be grabbing hold of it.
Okay, now I said to you earlier about how we don't hold the bass and
support it in position with our hands. But conveniently for jazz musicians
particularly there is an action that we do in performance that also helps
balance the bass. If I get comfortable a second. And that's playing back
chords and strings with the right hand. That movement naturally sort of
keeps the bass in place. And if with the left hand, the movement... I'm
not pushing down, and forcing my hand into the finger board. I'm using my
arm weight which is something that we talk about in the left-hand lesson.
The actual process of playing the strings, actually pushes slightly in this
direction, just to help support the bass. Again, we're not holding it with
our hand, but the actual motion of play... will help keep the bass in the
correct alignment. Okay, just have a look at a couple of more general
points about the way that you stood. Maybe you're making a few mistakes
here that we need to correct. I always recommend practicing in front of
the mirror. This is really useful. You can't monitor what you're doing
unless you can see yourself. So make sure that you're practicing in front
of a mirror.
Check that you're not doing any of these things, that you're not balancing
your weight onto your right leg. I used to do this a lot, and particularly
when I was doing the corrective stance and you end up putting all of your
weight on your right leg and it causes issues further down the line.
Check that you're not reacting that the scroll isn't in your zone by moving
away and putting your head at an angle. I've had a lot of students who I've
talked to and they're doing this all the time. So try and maintain
alignment in your body. Keep your shoulders nice and relaxed. Keep
everything nice and even, and you should get really comfortable with the
instrument quite quickly.
Another problem that I see students do a lot is that they don't bring the
bass towards them. And if they do, they end up with the bass really
vertical. Now I can think of one or two really good professional players
who play this way, but as I say, I would recommend not doing so. One of
the main reasons is, if the bass is completely up right, it can move away
from you in that direction. Which I think you can appreciate poses a lot
of practical problems, one of which is you will have to hold it to stop it
from doing so.
So make sure the bass is about an arms length away and bring it back
towards your body. And make sure that you're aligned carefully with the
Nut. You should also be able to comfortably be able to reach the end of
the finger board with your right hand.
I really hope that you've enjoyed the lesson today. If you have you can
rate, comment subscribe on YouTube, and if you want some more beginner
double bass lessons, you can head on over to DiscoverDoubleBass.com.