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Re: Starting off at Jazz Bass

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Posted by Ed on December 10, 2001 at 13:12:03:

In Reply to: Starting off at Jazz Bass posted by Terry on December 10, 2001 at 12:19:56:

1.Check out Bob Gollihur's website (all hail Bob Gollihur) for luthiers or shops near you. Since you don't give your geographic location, it's gonna be hard for anyone to recommend someone nearby.
It's good that you have some bassists you like, that way you have a sound of what you're looking for in your head.That way you can look for the bass in your budget that will get you closest to that sound. If you can, take a bassist buddy with you when you check out basses.
2. There's some divergence of thought on this one. Classical cats like Barry Guy say starting out on cello is better than starting out on an instrument that may not be constructed well (esp 1/8th sizes)and will have an inferior sound. Others, even in the legit field, say that starting with as large a bass as feasible for the child as early as they want to (say 1/2 size rather than 1/8 size)is fine. There are a number of articles on teaching bass to young students in back issues of DOUBLE BASSIST magazine.
3. No, not that I've seen. The site has a lot of DB players and several threads on HOW TO BUY AN UPRIGHT. Also Dave Gage's website has a short article on what to look for when buying a bass.
Bottom line, carry someone who has some experience with you, deal with reputable dealers, you'll be fine. The advantages to buying from a luthier are: you're gonna have to develop a relationship with one anyway, why not start out on the right foot, Buying from a luthier, they have a vested interest in making sure the bass is sound (or letting you know about anything that needs work, if you choose to buy the bass "as is"). If Bob's website doesn't yield anything promising, find out who the bassists in the section of your local symphony/orchestra/opera company recommend.
4.You ever touched a bass? Arco aside, the physical approach to sound production is unlike anything else. You have some background in music, this is good. Hearing chords, hearing them in inversion, hearing the upper partials as melodic options, all that's great. But playing the instrument is going to be entirely different from anything else you have ever done. Developing technique and endurance on the instrument is not easy. It's not impossible either. Grab one and get going.
As far as the whole "how long" question, well who can say? It depends on what your expectations are, how much time you can devote to practice, etc etc. If you're fine with the time going to hell while you look for the right notes to play while your kids comp through AUTUMN LEAVES, well it's not going to take to long. If what you're looking for is to be able to hold the time and the form steady so that they can feel what it's like to play with a good bass player, well that may be years. Do yourself a favor, if you are at all serious about pursuing the instrument, get a teacher. An improper physical approach can be more than inconvenient, it can be damaging.
If all you want to do is to be able to accompany your kids while they play piano, but don't want to put a lot of time into the instrument, maybe try electric bass. The learning curve ain't as steep.

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