Upright Bass Beginner

Upright Bass Beginner: Week #1

List of Goals for the week:

  • Warm Up: N/A

  • Scale: N/A

  • Technique: Unpacking the bass. Parts of the bass. Setting the endpin. Standing with correct but relaxed posture. Balancing the bass without using your hands. Pizzicato on the G, D, and A strings, with string muting. Packing the bass. Travel blessing.

  • Repertoire: Let’s Talk it Over - John Lee Hooker

  • Additional Studies:

Paragraph summary of what was covered in class

Welcome to the upright bass! This was your crash course in the world of the upright bass, and we tried to cover a lot of things, from logistics to music. Hopefully your maiden voyage back to your home with the bass went well. We talked about how to play the top 3 open strings (G, D & A) finger style or “pizzicato”, and how to get a full sound when plucking those strings.

Method for achieving correct playing position (for our current purposes, playing position changes)

  1. Start with bass laying on it’s side, G string closest to the floor ALWAYS!

  2. Adjust endpin to where we marked it in class. Make sure it’s fully clamped down!

  3. With left hand on the neck, and right hand in the top of the C-Bout, lift up bass and rotate it so that it’s on it’s now standing on the endpin.

  4. With feet shoulder width apart, and a tall but relaxed posture, hold bass on the heel of the neck with your left hand, and left arm fully extended. The bass should be standing completely vertically (90 degrees to the floor) at this point and the ribs of the bass should be parallel to your ribs! The bottom of the nut should be around as tall as the top of your forehead at this point. Go back to step number 2 if you need to correct the height.

  5. Rotate bass so that the plane of the back of the bass now points to the center of your body (ribs are no longer parallel)

  6. Take a small shuffle step (about a half a step) toward the bass, without moving the bass at all.

  7. Bring the bass into your body and lock the back of the bass into the inside corner of your pelvis. This is Playing Position #1

  8. Move around with the bass, make any adjustments until it feels comfortable.

  9. From Position #1, take a shuffle step with your right foot, and a larger step with your left foot, shift bass from inside corner of pelvis to outside corner of pelvis, and have the inside of your left knee make contact with the back of the bass. This is Playing Position #2. In this position you should be able to balance the bass completely hands free.  Either playing position is fine for Pizzicato.

Assignment for next week

Make it home and back to class with the bass successfully.

Find your correct endpin position, practice balancing the bass.

Be able to play along with Let’s Talk it Over and Crawling King Snake

How to Practice this at home

Posture and balancing practice is best if you can do it in front of a mirror. Practice going between the 2 playing positions. In playing position #2, see how long you can keep the bass balanced without using your hands.

With good speakers (louder than laptop/phone speakers) play along with Let’s Talk it Over on just the A string. Try to play along with the complete recording at least 5 times this week. Focus on your posture, your groove, and your sound. Later in the week play along with Crawling King Snake, this time try to use your ear to figure out when to play the A string or the D string.

Charts + Sheet Music + Diagrams

Parts of the upright bass

Maryruth BarnettComment