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Re: upright rookie needs help

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Posted by Rich Laird ( on September 26, 2002 at 20:34:28:

In Reply to: upright rookie needs help posted by Matt on September 25, 2002 at 21:01:42:

: I am an electric bass player and i've recently had the good fortune to spend
: some quality time with a school upright. I'm really excited to finally play
: a "real" bass, but i'm afraid using my electric techinque isn't quite working.
: Any advice on some basic pizzicato technique, like thumb anchor spots and plucking?
: How about some basic fingering technique? Any assistance would be awesome!

Mostly, people are talking about a bass guitar when they say "electric bass". If that's what you mean, there's no reason to expect your guitar technique will be very applicable to a violin-family instrument. The strings are usually tuned the same - but the similarity pretty much ends there.

When I play a bass guitar, I try to more-or-less brush my plucking fingers across the string without too much impact. Playing an upright, you want to actually pull the string to the side before releasing it - it's almost like a bow-and-arrow effect. It's not always really obvious - especialy when you're playing faster - but that "pull-and-release" aspect is always there - at least a little bit.

You want to anchor your thumb firmly against the side of the fingerboard - use your first and second fingers independantly as much as possible (some guys actually use three). The anchor spot depends on what kind of sound you want. Like any stringed instrument, the attack will be harder and the sound a little punchier and brighter the closer to the bridge you are. It'll get a little warmer and more sustaining further away from the bridge.

There's several books that will show you the fundamentals of fingering - Simandl Book 1 is as good as any. Left hand posture is really important for beginners. You need a teacher for that, and all aspects of your technique.

If you get at all serious about this, getting a teacher will realy be worthwhile.

Welcome to the doghouse!

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