Starting off at Jazz Bass

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Posted by Terry on December 10, 2001 at 12:19:56:

I'm a jazz pianist and vocalist (tenor) thinking of taking up the double bass. I fell in love with the bass as a kid by listening to people like Ray Brown, Scott LaFaro, Paul Chambers, etc. and later--in the process of transcribing Bill Evans piano solos--also started transcribing Ray Brown and Eddie Gomez lines. I guess I liked to study the interaction between the musicians, not just their individual lines.

In any event, I'm thinking about starting off on the bass. I know I can easily find instruction by calling the musician's union and asking around. No problem. But I do have some questions I'm hoping somebody would take the time to help me with:

1) I don't have an instrument. Any advice, resources on buying one?

2) If you are starting a kid out on a string instrument what age can they begin to play the bass? Given the size of the instrument is it better off to start them, say, with a cello?

3) I know a lot about shopping for pianos. In that market there are a few respected books to help buyers of these instruments, such as Larry Fines "The Piano Book". Does such a think exist for the double bass?

4) I have a reasonably good grasp of meter, sightreading, jazz harmony, chord progressions, improvisation at the piano and at least some basic experience playing bass on the left hand of a piano. How long do you think it would take me get up to speed so I can accompany an intermediate-level jazz pianist (in this case, my children)?



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