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Bought a double bass today

09 Jan 11 - 12:11 AM (#3070303)
Subject: Bought a double bass today
From: josepp

Back in the 80s I had one but my learning it was interrupted and never resumed. I saw a beautiful one the other day and I just couldn't get it out of my mind. So I went back today and bought it. Cost a small fortune but--oh, what the hell. It sounded terrible but now it's getting better--the wood is starting to break in and it's booming now. Before it was really weak.

I'm already playing it fairly well. I do intend though to take lessons. To be any good, you really have to learn from someone. I mean you can do the book thing like I did to learn blues guitar but I did that because I had no teacher. But I do know a great bassist who does teach double bass and so I fully intend to learn what I can from him.

It's an Eastman VB-80, 3/4 size, violin form with an arched back. More of a beginner's than a fully top pro model but I am a beginner. It's very nice. Lovin' it.

09 Jan 11 - 04:39 AM (#3070373)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: JohnInKansas

I got a message saying the Eastman Shop was closed when I clicked on your link.

I didn't find anything exactly like your link, but I suspect the bass you got is like the first one at Samuel Eastman Beginner Basses.

We had one, 7/8 size, for a while, that I got because "she" said she wanted one. It turned out that she only wanted one to look at, and after a few years of hauling it around and tripping over it when it was just sittin' we foisted it off on a friend who claimed she actually wanted one to play.

Aside from learning that they're about the same amount of trouble to get to a session as hauling a mother-in-law (but with a few fewer smat a** remarks about your driving), probably the most important thing we learned - from friends who had their own and actually played them - was that the strings on ours were a fairly cheap set, and even the friends with well-developed fingers complained about the pain.

We never bothered putting a good set of strings on, but comparison with similar instruments with better setup did indicate it would have been worthwhile, if there had been any realistic expectation that it would get more play.

Yours may already have better setup than ours did, but if you're really serious about practicing a lot an assessment of your setup by your instructor or a check with a decent luthier (assuming one's available) might be something to consider before the bleeding gets serious enough to hinder your enjoyment.

Lots of fun to play, but by the time we got ours my low-frequency hearing was too far gone for me to get good intonation, so I never bothered to take it away from "her that it was bought fer."


09 Jan 11 - 08:44 AM (#3070503)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: Sandra in Sydney

Double bass is my favourite instrument, & a muso I know used to carry hers in a Volkswagon!

I never saw her get it into & out of her car, dunno how she did it, especially as she is also vertically challenged!

Alas, a few years ago she replaced it with one of those modern travelling funny-looking things, still sounds the same, but ...

09 Jan 11 - 08:45 AM (#3070504)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: Sandra in Sydney

itchy typing finger

have fun with your new instrument


09 Jan 11 - 08:49 AM (#3070506)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,Bluesman James

Congratulations: All the best to you. I love the sound of upright bass or double bas. May I make some musical recommendation:
1: Josh White used Bill Lee as his accompanist and those guitar bass stuff is incredible
2: The Pen-tangle with double bassist Danny Thompson Danny is incredible and he has played with Ralph Mctell (the original Street of Longon) and the late John Martyn as well as many others.

09 Jan 11 - 11:08 AM (#3070584)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,jeff

When living in Pittsburgh I worked w/a double bassist named Erin Snyder. She was/is great. Well versed in all forms of Americana, Celtic, Jazz, etc. We did a live five song demo that still holds up after some eight years.

Once at an all night jam she slept in her gig bag! What a trooper. Presently, she's working w/an all female Bluegrass band called The Bushwackers.

Enjoy your new challenge.

09 Jan 11 - 11:20 AM (#3070590)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: josepp

///the strings on ours were a fairly cheap set, and even the friends with well-developed fingers complained about the pain.///

The setup on this one is very nice. Doesn't hurt at all. In fact, it feels very natural. Then again, I have played gass buitar since I was 19. I have a 1977 P-bass, a Hofner Beatle bass (a recent model not an early 60s) and a Schecter Studio 5-string active bass which is lined fretless. I was playing bass long before I really got into playing guitar. And I was a drummer years before I took up bass. Still am. So, I don't have any doubts I can learn to play double bass. I'm pleasantly surprised how much I can do on it already. But I see guys do stuff on them that I'm dying to do myself but I know someone's going to have to teach me---like slapping.

////Alas, a few years ago she replaced it with one of those modern travelling funny-looking things, still sounds the same, but ...////

Agreed. There's something about that doghouse. Gotta have it. Sure it's big and bulky and how you get one in a VW is totally beyond me. I drive a Prius and I can easily fit it in by dropping the backseats coming in through the hatchback. It fits easily but without that beatseat dropping, no way. I wouldn't have been able to get it home.

////Congratulations: All the best to you. I love the sound of upright bass or double bas. May I make some musical recommendation:////

I've always liked Ron Carter but he's bit beyond me. He's a hometown boy so maybe he'll give me some lessons!! Not!!

Another guy I like a lot is Jimmy Hughart who has played on everything. I'm working on some of his chops and can sort of do them...almost.

09 Jan 11 - 03:15 PM (#3070731)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle

sounds to me like you're ready for gig number one! Best of luck!

09 Jan 11 - 03:28 PM (#3070738)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: fat B****rd

What Alan said.
Practice, man, practice.

09 Jan 11 - 08:48 PM (#3070953)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: josepp

Practice and lessons--that's my plan of attack.

10 Jan 11 - 02:40 AM (#3071072)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: JohnInKansas

The Beetle I had quite a few years back had the front passenger seat on a track, and with a little manipulation you could slide the seat off the front of the rails. Flipped upside down that seat would fit behind the driver's seat, leaving a nice long space from rear window to somewhere below the dashboard on the passenger side. A little additional vertical height in the rear could be gained by popping the rear bottom seat out and standing it vertical alongside the passenger seat, if you didn't need a wide cargo space.. (It had to come out easily to check the battery, so it wasn't usually too difficult).

You could almost put a small piano in there.

I doubt that a full size bass would have fit, but the 7/8 size most used in bluegrass bands, or the 3/4 size used by some, shouldn't be too hard to worm into the hole.

I heard that some (later?) models had a "full reclining" passenger seat, but I don't think I ever saw one. Some models may have had a 3/4-recline. Either of those might allow a bass of usual size to go in without (re)moving the seat, but I can't vouch for that.


10 Jan 11 - 10:58 AM (#3071337)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle

'Practice and lessons--that's my plan of attack. '

Nah forget that.

Look you got an A string, an E string. and a D.

Find yourself a drummer and a guitarist who can play in A, and start a band. you'll pick the rest up.

10 Jan 11 - 12:52 PM (#3071433)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,jeff

Ummm, I THINK there's a G string in there someplace if memory serves.

10 Jan 11 - 04:12 PM (#3071575)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle

Yeh he's right. Wear a g string. It will increase your appeal.

10 Jan 11 - 04:57 PM (#3071617)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: josepp

Alan set you up, Jeff. He was waiting for someone to say that.

26 Feb 11 - 03:21 PM (#3103176)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: josepp

I was looking inside the doghouse of my bass and realized it's not a vb-80 as I had thought--it's a vb-95. The people at the store advertized it as a vb-80 so that's why I thought it was but it is definitely not.

vb-95 bass

It is advertized as:

The Samuel Eastman model 95 bass is built with a fully carved spruce top, just like the model 90 bass but it is finished with a hand-applied shaded varnish to give it a special antique appearance.

•Fully carved solid spruce top
•Sturdy laminated back and sides
•Solid ebony fingerboard
•Solid brass tuning machines
•Special hand-applied shaded antique-style varnish
•Outfit includes Presto padded bag and K.Holtz FG bow
•Available in 3/4 size

So I have been taking lessons and my instructor learned from two bassists I've recorded in the past--Paul Keller and Danny Plisko. I'm learning from the Franz Simandl New Method for Double Bass book.

I'm playing with a French bow and getting the hand of it. I might buy a German one and see if I like that better. The French one tires out the hand but my instructor assures that once my hand adjusts to it, it will feel effortless. Man, that bass roars and throbs when you bow it. Here I was only interested in plucking and slapping it and now I just love using the bow on it.

Here's the Simandl book:

F. Simandl book

Franz Simandl was a bassist in Vienna and was also a professor of bass at the Vienna Conservatory and he wrote this book that would develop a novice into a competent bassist if he sticks with the book and gets the method down. The hand positions I-VII are the key. The fingers themselves take an arrangement my instructor calls "penguin" which is slightly different from the one Simandl teaches.

I remember taking my drum lessons as a kid (at the same place I do now) and it was such a pain--all the practice and crap when all I wanted to do was get in a band and tear it up--which I did. But now, I enjoy the lessons and look forward to them every week.

Now I'm listening incessantly to Paul Chambers. It will be a couple of months before I reach his level.

26 Feb 11 - 04:00 PM (#3103195)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: fat B****rd

To-day, Paul Chambers... June,Charlie Mingus?
Excellent role models (IMO)
Good luck to you. fB

26 Feb 11 - 04:16 PM (#3103200)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: josepp

Are these beautiful or what?

Italian gamben

Italian violin-form--note the extended neck on the E string

Italian violin-form

German gamben

German violin-form

French gamben

French Busetto

French gamben only $12,500!

Bohemian gamben

Bohemian violin-form 5-string

26 Feb 11 - 04:47 PM (#3103214)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: josepp

Roman's Contrabsom

"Romance with the Double Bass" from Anton Chekhov's story Roman's Kontrabasom made into a 1974 English short film starring John Cleese, Connie Booth and Andrew Sachs (Booth, who is Cleese's wife, and Sachs are famous for their roles as Polly and Manuel in the hilarious series Fawlty Towers which was co-written by Cleese and Booth). In the movie, Cleese plays Smychkov, a double bassist, who shows up early for a ball at a castle in honor of the rebellious Princess Constanza (Booth) and is told to disappear for a while so he decides to haul his bass in its massive case to a nearby river and go skinny-dipping. When he comes back ashore, he unexpectedly runs into Princess Constanza who was also skinny-dipping in the river. The problem is, someone has stolen their clothes and so they are stark naked. To preserve her dignity, Smychkov transports the princess back to the castle inside his double bass case. One can imagine the hilarity that ensues. The movie was noted for its "prolonged nudity." The sculpture was unveiled in 2008 on the Pushkin Embankment in downtown Taganrog in Rostov Oblast, Russia in honor of Chekhov's 150th birth anniversary. Taganrog was Chekhov's birthplace.

The sculpture enables us to visualize what Chekhov was expressing in metaphor: A beautiful woman emerging from a double bass case likens the instrument to a woman. Its curves, size and physical beauty makes it woman-like. The way the player holds the instrument is actually a romance. My instructor, in teaching me the proper way to hold the instrument by leaning it into my hip told me, "You have to get intimate with it like you're holding a woman." At another point, he told me that if I'm serious about taking up the double bass, that "this is your woman now," he said pointing to it. Another time, I was hauling the bass out to my car and a man said, "Now, that's a big instrument!" and I unwittingly responded, "It's like hauling a big, fat woman around." Despite its low pitch and power, the double bass is more female than male. When drawing the bow across its strings, it purrs delightedly. It is complex and temperamental and when it wants to be played, it wants to be played correctly and won't stand for any sloppy technique. But when played correctly, what it gives back in pleasure cannot be stated in words but only experienced.

27 Feb 11 - 06:11 AM (#3103462)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: s&r

For interest this shows the measurements for 4/4 3/4 etc


03 Mar 11 - 07:16 PM (#3106542)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: josepp

I started with a new instructor today. He learned from a guy in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and has recorded with both classical and jazz units. He's written a book on 6-string bass guitar--which he plays beautifully. I never knew a 6-string could sound so lovely. I might learn that from him too.

But this guy is really more rigid and a stickler for proper technique and I learned today just how much was wrong with my game--everything. But this is a bit more what I want in an instructor. He's literally teaching double bass from the ground up and gave me some advice on how to set the end peg and how to treat it and not treat it.

You want to learn double bass--he's going to teach you the double bass. Well, I'm devoted to learning it. This isn't just something I futz around with in my spare time. I'm determined to learn to play this instrument and this man will help me get there. He was even showing me how double bass fingering techniques work perfectly well with bass guitar. So I'm ready and raring to go.

But right now, I have to get ready for a guitar open mike set.

02 Sep 11 - 08:21 PM (#3217363)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,josepp

Haven't posted on this thread in a while. I have changed the strings and bought D'Addario medium tension hybrid steel strings. Hybrid means they take well to both plucking and bowing. Ordered them from Lemur Music online. My instructor says to get used to ordering from them because we'll be doing a lot of business--Lemur and I. He changed the strings for me and loved them and said he's thinking about re-stringing his main bass and just might buy a set. They're $117 and with shipping total out to about $126 or something.

I'm looking to order a double bass mic/pickup from Lemur but haven't quite made up my mind what I want.

I'm learning swing jazz pieces like Woodchopper's Ball and Chattanooga Choo-Choo which are great fun and very valuable for learning to swing the notes written on the paper. My plucking is pretty good and my slapping is coming along. I can double- and triple-slap a standard bass shuffle riff. It feels funny to slap that bass line and hear how cool it sounds and never thinking I'd ever be able to do that. Tremendous amount of practice though.

Bowing, on the other hand, is just fucking tough as hell. My instructor says it's like playing under a magnifying glass--everything you can dash off pizzicato is magnified in difficulty 100-fold in arco. Pizzicato is forgiving but arco is ruthless. If you don't play it right, there's no getting around it. It not only sounds bad, it sounds utterly Shitty (note the upper case). Draw your hand back a little too soon or late and everybody hears it. Have a moment of uncertainly and the bow bounces on the string and sounds so amateur that it's depressing. You can mess up your fingering to a degree in pizzicato and get away with it. You cannot mess up in arco because you will NEVER get away with it. The bow throws even the tiniest mistakes right back in your face every single time. No let up.

I'm learning advanced bowing from a Fred Zimmerman book that takes every stroke apart and shows you how it works. It completely disassembles the strokes in a piece of classical music and lays them out in painstaking order and you have to learn them by heart.

My instructor's instructor was a Zimmerman student named Bill Gladstone who was the principal bassist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for over 30 years. "He was like a Zen master of the bass," my instructor said. He recalled once that he was in an orchestra playing a Copeland piece for Gladstone and some conductors who had come to listen. My instructor has a bass solo that consisted of nothing but the low E. So he's stroking away at the E when Gladstone yells for silence. Then he says, "Gimme that bass!!" and my instructor timidly handed it over. Then Gladstone signaled to the orchestra to start from the top and when he played the bass solo, my instructor said it sounded totally different even though it was nothing but the low E. "It boomed and boomed and filled the whole room with sound!" he said. "He was barely moving his arm and yet the bass was roaring to the rafters! I realized how weak my game was and what it was Copeland was trying to do with that bass line. I felt like a total flunkie but I realized how you have to play that instrument if you want to be any good. So make that bow grip that string!"

It's a huge challenge but I'm really enjoying it.

03 Sep 11 - 08:25 PM (#3217801)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: dick greenhaus

Back in the day, I transported a double bass in a VW Beetle. THe sunroof was a great help.

04 Sep 11 - 10:36 AM (#3218013)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,josepp

It fits in my Prius if you take the partition out, drop the back seats and push the front passenger seat forward. I've done it a few dozen times now. I'll be taking it over to my instructor's house this Tuesday. He wants to try some bass dueting and there isn't enough room at the music store we normally meet at for two basses. I bought this Prius in August of '09 and I don't know how I could have shuttled this bass around with my previous car. It would not have been possible in my opinion although a sunroof might have made it doable.

04 Sep 11 - 09:20 PM (#3218278)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,leeneia

Josepp, thanks for the interesting info and the story (the E) about bass playing. It sounds like you are coming along well. I'm glad to hear you are enjoying your instrument.

" I can double- and triple-slap a standard bass shuffle riff."

Sounds good!

I used to sing in a church choir that had a bass available, and every once in a while people would pluck a few notes. Then one day a man with a pony tale popped up and said "Can I play the bass today?" Our leader said yes, and he turned out to be the most incredible player.

Afterwards we talked to him, and it turned out he plays with a jazz band in Chicago and was on tour. We told him to play our bass anytime he came to town.

Until I had never really known how good bass playing sounds.

04 Sep 11 - 10:16 PM (#3218286)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,josepp

There's nothing like well-played double bass. Someone in your choir should learn it but it is a BIG commitment. It's a good year's worth of lessons before you can even handle the easy stuff. And it takes practice and it takes a lot of memorization.

For example, bass chords consist of a triad played consecutively and you have to know every position go up the neck in sharps and back down in flats. You have to memorize the triads because you have to know before you play the note, which note it is you're going to play and where it is. You can't do it on the spur of the moment. So you have to drill yourself constantly. Then there's the strokes with the bow. You have to memorize each and every stroke--not just the notes--like a kind of graph or flowchart in your mind. If you're even a little bit late or early with that bow, it sticks out like a sore thumb and even the most untrained ears will know you just screwed up.

So much effort has to go into good bass-playing that you wouldn't believe it. It has to be one of the hardest instruments to learn. You can pick out a little ditty here and there by yourself but to be truly good, you have be trained by someone who has already mastered it and you must know how to use that bow.

04 Sep 11 - 11:27 PM (#3218301)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,josepp

I forgot to mention that a few months back I took my bass to my instructor's house because his luthier was visiting from Muskegon. This guy built two basses for my instructor and they're beautiul in appearance and tone. I suppose one day, he'll be building one for me. So I took my bass over there and the guy looked it over and asked, "May I ask how much you paid for this?"

"Twenty-one," I replied.

"Really?" he said. "That's a damn good price for that quality. Solid top with some thickness on it. I would think that would cost more in the $2700 range."

I told him that it is about 27 except it was sold to me as a VB-80 for $1900 and with tax it came out to 21 even. The VB-95 retails for about $2400 and with tax works out to around 27 or so.

He said that the best student basses he'd previously seen were the Kay basses because they used solid tops but the tops were so thin that you could put your fist through them and this Eastman has pretty much pro quality solid top and that costs so i made out pretty good.

I said I wanted something with good resale value so when I move up, I can get something for it. My instructor, however, told me I should keep if possible because if I sell it and have to put my new bass in the shop for any reason--and I should count on doing that at least once--then what do I play with in the meantime? Well, that was a good point. So I guess I'll try to hang onto this one as a standby when I move up to a better one.

In case anyone's wondering, you have to lay out some coin for a good double bass. People ask me what they can get for $600. Here's what you can get for $600: NOTHING! I mean, you can go online and buy one for that much but it's a piece of crap. You might get lucky and buy a nice one for very cheap because some guy who owned it died and his widow or kids want to get rid of it because these things DO take up some space. But how often does that happen? A cheapie that's worth practicing on is still in the $1800 range and that's for a laminated top. Just the wood for a fully pro model costs more than $600. It has to be the right type of tonewood, perfectly aged and cut. So you know that the wood on these $600 cheapies has to be shit. Those things will fall apart within a few years and probably within a few months if used heavily. It's better to save up for one that will still be playable long, long after you've stopped due to death.

I had a coworker order one for like $800. It was certainly very pretty--all solid white and all. A few weeks later, he sold it on ebay without explanation. I noticed one MAJOR MAJOR problem with it. It arrived at work because he used it as the mailing addess so I got to see it come right out of the box. The thing was, the bridge was sitting flat and wrapped in plastic. He had to install it. So what you ask?

Well, see, there's this little thing called a soundpost. It's just a wooden dowel made of spruce, I think, and it is wedged between the top and bottom plates. It restricts the vibration and keeps the top and bottom vibrating uniformly and sounding good. Without the soundpost, the acoustics just aren't there. The Italians call the soundpost "anima" or "soul" because it is the soul of the instrument. But the soundpost is only held in by string tension just like the bridge. So if you take the bridge off, there's no string tension! So what's holding the soundpost in? Glue? Or did this cheap-ass thing even have a soundpost?

My instructor told me to always change one string at a time and never taken them all off at once for that very reason--because the soundpost will fall over and it's about impossible to get it back in the way it was and so the instrument will never sound right again. You know my coworker realized the thing was a piece of crap and got rid of it to some dumb rube who didn't do his homework and thinks he's getting a deal. That's why you never order online and why you have to shell out big coin for a double bass.

05 Sep 11 - 07:06 AM (#3218408)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: Sandra in Sydney

buyer beware

05 Sep 11 - 12:45 PM (#3218547)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,josepp

Look at the up side: a decent student bass that can be used in most live situations doesn't cost any more than a brand new Martin. Less in some cases.

05 Sep 11 - 01:19 PM (#3218563)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,josepp

My bass instruction has a lineage. It starts with Franz Simandl, the first true bass pedagogue right around the middle of the 19th century at the Prague Conservatory. He had studied bass under Josef Hrabe. Among Simandl's students was guy named Ludwig Manoly who came to the conservatory to train as a choir singer but lost out because his voiced changed passing through puberty. He qualified for a bass scholarship the school was offering and studied under Simandl.

Manoly came to the US sometime around the turn of the century, I think--maybe before. Among his students was Henry Reinshagen who became the teacher of Charles Mingus. Another student of Reinshagen was Frederick Zimmerman of New York. Zimmerman is known as the foremost pedagogue of bass in the United States. Zimmerman worked on adapting classical pieces played on other instruments to double bass. He turned the bass into a soloing instrument in
American orchestras. One of Zimmerman's students was the great Eddie Gomez who played for the Bill Evans Trio. Gomez, if you've ever heard of seen him play, is one of the finest bassists alive. I watched him playing scales on one string--shooting up and down the fingerboard so fast you couldn't see his fingers moving--just a blur.

One of the hallmarks of Simandl/Zimmerman pedgogy is the use of the German bow over the French bow. The German bow was actually developed by a superb Italian bassist of the 19th century named Domenico Dragonetti. Zimmerman, however, was also an expert on the French bow. Eddie Gomez stated that when he started learning to bow, he preferred the French bow. He said Zimmerman tried to talk him out of it go with the German but Gomez said the German didn't feel right in his hand and French bow just felt more natural so Zimmerman taught Gomez bowing via the French bow but he himself preferred German and recommended German bow to all his students. Gladstone used it, he taught my instructor to use it and he is teaching me to use it even though I started off trying to the use the French one. Pretty much all Japanese bassists use German bow. They are schooled in Simandl over there. My Simandl lesson book has parallel texts in English and Japanese so we study right out of the same lesson book.

Another student of Zimmerman's was the aforementioned William Gladstone who left the New York Philharmonic to play in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra where he spent the rest of his career but he also taught at Michigan State University where my instructor became a student and he also taught the current principal bassist of the DSO--Linton Bodwin.

So that's my pedagogic lineaqe.

05 Sep 11 - 01:34 PM (#3218570)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: Dave the Gnome

I never figured out how to get it under my chin...


28 Oct 11 - 11:37 PM (#3246482)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,Josepp

I was just re-reading this and I realized I kept called Gladstone by the name of William. I must have been high on dangerous drugs at the time. His name is Robert--Robert Gladstone. William was some British guy who used to cross horns with Disraeli. I read my earlier posts and I did a double take. WHAT??? Robert Gladstone--many apologies.

I bought this book online called "The New History of the Double Bass" by Paul Brun who is an orchestral bassist himself. Cost me $129 and that was the cheapest price I could find. I guess it's a pretty rare book. But it teaches a lot about how double bass evolved and came to be THE bass of symphony orchestras. I'm learning a lot from this book.

I didn't know that bassists were the original conductors. Orchestras did not originally have a guy waving a baton. Instead, everybody listened to the main bassist. Domenico Dragonetti was said to be the best. He kept any orchestra he belonged to playing in unison. Orchestras were divided into Great Choirs and Small Choirs and, for a time, had a basso continuo but eventually did away with it. The Italians did the most to make the double bass popular.

Basses had to be played by strong young men then because they were so big and unruly that they wore older men out. While I am learning classical pieces, I knew nothing about orchestras but this book is a big help. Guys like Gladstone and Zimmerman were orchestra players--that's what they did.

It's amazing how good you have to be just to be in an orchestra playing behind some virtuoso soloist. It takes tremendous skill to back one of these people. It's not a job for a hack.

This book also referred to my teacher's teacher's teacher as Hermann Reinshagen and not Henry. I'm probably wrong on that too but I could swear other source said Henry. Henry, Hermann--whatever. Welp, time to go practice.

10 Dec 11 - 03:34 PM (#3271677)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,josepp

Recital time soon. I kept pestering my instructor for ragtime pieces. I have a book of the complete rags of Joplin in sheet music format. He showed me how to use it to construct a bass solo. So he decided why don't I appear at the next recital doing "The Entertainer." I wanted to do "Heliotrope Bouquet" but he wants me to concentrate on "The Entertainer." Right now, I'm just learning to pluck it but once I get it down, I have to learn it in arco and play it before an audience with a German bow. I try to bow it a little right now but--DAMN--that's hard! I'll get it though.

I'm also learning to write out the bass pattern for Eckstine's "Satin Doll". I said I wanted to learn it for my next jazz thing but he doesn't have the sheet music (he played with Billy in the 80s). So he said, that's another assignment: write it out myself. A good exercise in being a better sight-reader. Man, it's a chore but I'm getting down. He could do it in 5 minutes. I'm not quite that proficient.

I'm also learning out of two new books: Volume 1 of "Sturm" and a volume of Josef Hrabe etudes. I never thought I would ever learn this much about playing classical music. But you can't play this instrument well without a classical background. It's nuts.

I mentioned my bass lineage before but I'll run through it again backwards: Rich (my instructor), Robert Gladstone, Fred Zimmerman, Hermann Reinshagen, Ludwig Manoly, Franz Simandl. Simandl learned bass at the Prague Conservatory from Josef Hrabe. Hrabe took over from the conservatory's original bass pedagogue, Vaclav Hause, of whom he was also a student. It appears that Hause was also called Wenzleslas Hause and is also called Wenzel House. But I'm not clear on that.

But it would seem that in Hause's day, bass was such a hard instrument that it was necessary to play with gloves on--"fisticuffs" as it was actually called. When Hause retired, Hrabe made it mandatory to get rid of the gloves. Then this Italian dude named Dragonetti came along and started playing bass in a new way and, to keep up with him, the bass underwent some changes because guys like Beethoven wanted to write more complex bass parts after hearing what Dragonnetti could do even though he was the only guy that could do it. As a result, bass-playing was getting more innovative. Most of the innovation was going on around Vienna and that is where Simandl was teaching--the Vienna Conservatory.

So that's the tradition I'm trying to carry on. A bit more complicated than I initially thought. Time to practice.

18 Dec 11 - 10:01 PM (#3276309)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,spm

I've read your postws with great interest. The "guy" you speak of in the lineage happens to be my great grandfather. If you ever run accross any of his compositions I would like to be able to hear them. The best of luck to you. sally

18 Dec 11 - 11:19 PM (#3276330)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,josepp

Which guy? Zimmerman? He's written books on pedagogery and transcriptions but don't know if he composed. Reinshagen, to my knowledge, did not write any pieces and neither did Manoly (they could have but I'm not aware of any). Simandl wrote some pedagogery books--he's the foundation of virtually every bassist today. I hear that Hrabe was a composer but I can't say I've heard anything he's written. Hause wrote some pedagogery books and I've ordered a 2-volume set from Germany. Don't know if he composed. Gladstone didn't write anything or my instructor would have told me. Gladstone was an ensemble player. He could do incredible stuff as a solo player but never recorded that way because he was an ensemble player and he said so.

19 Dec 11 - 01:21 AM (#3276358)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,spm

Sorry...Ludwig Manoly is my great grandfather..Anton Dvorak brought him to the USA to teach in the predicessor school to Juliard. He also played in the NY Philharmonic for 50 years. I have been doing some family history and it was mentioned in a couple of places that he had composed a few pieces.

19 Dec 11 - 07:33 AM (#3276462)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: Big Al Whittle

Did you find that guy who knows an A chord and form a band?

You could have been having hit records all this time. Come on! Put your mind to it. I want to see you on TV soon. Plus the G string!

19 Dec 11 - 11:15 AM (#3276560)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,josepp

Let me ask my instructor about Manoly and see if he knows or even has anything.

All I know about him is what I've been able to find on the internet. Below is the only photo of him that I've ever seen:

Ludwig Manoly

Ludwig Manoly was formerly a star choir singer as a boy. When his voice changed upon passing through puberty, ruining his chances to audition for the conservatory as a singer, Manoly decided to give up the choir for the bass around 1870 having qualified for a bass scholarship the school was offering.

After leaving the conservatory in 1876, Manoly emigrated to the United States where he first joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra and then became the principal bassist of what would become the New York Philharmonic. He knew many composers including Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Liszt, Verdi, Saint-Saëns and the Strausses—Richard, Johann and Eduard. Anton Dvorak appointed him bass teacher at the National Conservatory of Music in New York. One of his most influential students was Herman Reinshagen who became assistant principal bassist in the New York Philharmonic under Manoly and the principal bassist when Manoly left to join the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

20 Dec 11 - 11:09 PM (#3277549)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today

Thanks...any info is appreciated.   sally

30 Dec 11 - 04:43 PM (#3282115)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,josepp

I talked to my instructor but he knows of no Manoly pieces. He said if it's not on the internet then it's probably never been published.

01 Jan 12 - 08:09 PM (#3283142)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,spm

Thanks for checking.

09 Feb 12 - 08:52 PM (#3305140)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,josepp

According to Brun, Manoly was the one that started the German bow thing in this lineage. Not sure what Simandl used but Manoly made the German bow almost mandatory.

I bought a Wenzel Hause instruction lesson booklet from Germany. They sent me two so I gave one to my instructor. he said it has excellent bow exercises that are also great for two-finger pizzicato and he was in need of good two-finger lessons and now has them.

I now take lessons exclusively at my instructor's house and find it a far better atmosphere. BTW my recital of "The Entertainer" went well. I felt very good after it was over--that feeling you get when you pulled it off flawlessly in front of a crowd. Of course, playing the coffehouse circuit for years certainly helps overcome jitters.

I'm getting better. I can feel myself getting better. I'm doing things now that I couldn't do last year. In March, that will be my first year playing and I've learned so much but it isn't even a millionth of what there is to learn.

My instructor showed me some photos of Bob Gladstone since I couldn't find anything on the internet. I thought he was strictly a classical player. One photo showed Gladstoner in a jazz trio. I thought I knew who the pianist was. It took me a second and then I said, "Isn't that Leonard Bernstein on piano?" My instructor said yes, that when Bernstein formed his jazz ensemble, he practically begged Glastone to be his bassist.

Gladstone died back in the 90s. I asked my instructor what happened to Mr. Gladstone's bass. "Some guy on the West Coast has it. A young black guy--can't remember his name."

"Christian McBride?"

"No, he's younger than McBride. Can't remember his name but somehow he got the bass. That bass has belonged to a lot of prestigious players even before Mr. Gladstone got it. He told me once that it was worth a half-a-million dollars."

"So how did this guy on the West Coast get it then?"

"I don't know how he managed it. The bass didn't end up with me, that's all I know,"

How does that happen?

05 Apr 12 - 10:54 PM (#3334318)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,josepp

A luthier who makes my instructor's basses came by a few days ago. I had him fix my bass. The bridge has height adjustment wheels that couldn't be turned. My strings were in dire need of being raised but I had no way to do it and it was driving me crazy. He loosed the strings and removed the bridge (which is only held on by string tension). He disassembled it, retapped it with a 1/4-20 and lubed up the threaded ends with bar soap. He reassembled it and then checked inside the bass and said my soundpost was way off.

He used a special tool I'd seen online but didn't know how it was used. I do now for at least some purposes. He used to pull the soundpost towards him and get it close to where he said it neeeded to be. Then he put the bridge back in place and I tighted the strings and then tuned them up and started playing. WOW, what a difference!!! Sounds like a whole new instrument and much easier to play.

The whole operation took 20 minutes. I paid the guy $40 although he did not ask for money. It's worth it. How long would I have to leave it in a shop to get the same thing done? How much would it have cost? Would have been as good a job? Probably would have taken a good 2 weeks and cost at least $100.

06 Apr 12 - 10:31 AM (#3334488)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,leeneia

Congratulations on both counts, Josepp - that you are enjoying your instrument and that it's been adjusted to play just right.

I've enjoyed reading about how you are getting on.

06 Apr 12 - 02:17 PM (#3334629)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,josepp

I was falling asleep posting this last night and went right to bed as soon as I was done. Rereading it today, it makes me laugh. "Tighted"?

But, yeah, my instructor is impressed with the bass now. He said he thought it was kind of a piece of junk and couldn't believe the transformation. He was playing it and says, "Wow, listen to it growl! That's what a bass should do. I can't believe it's the same bass." Just shows you what a couple of little adjustments can do by someone who knows what he's doing. I raised the strings a little more and it sounds even better now and--oh--how nice it is to be able to turn those adjuster wheels!

Man, this bass is happening now! I'm terribly excited.

06 Apr 12 - 02:51 PM (#3334647)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: jimmyt

Congrats on your instrument. Don't ya just love playing a bass? I had a "beater" for a while, played it lefthanded and it was not set up for a lefty. I changed the strings but sound post was never moved. I finally went to Upton Bass in Mystic Connecticut and got a beautiful blonde model built left handed from the git go. I absolutely love the sound of the instrument but it is a 4/4 and I really wish I had gotten a 3/4 or 7/8. It is a beast, but sounds terrific.

06 Apr 12 - 09:56 PM (#3334789)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: GUEST,josepp

I've seen the Upton site many times and it looks like they have a lot of basses. It's a good bass resource website with lots of useful info. If you play left-handed then it has to be set up for left-handed play. Not only does the soundpost have to be moved to the other side but so does the bassbar. They kind of change places, in fact. And those are either glued on or sometimes even carved out of the top as a single piece of wood. So you have to take the bass apart to get that done or even get a new top and it sounds like way more trouble than it's worth.

I didn't know anybody still played 4/4s. 3/4 is kind of the unofficial standard. Mine's a 3/4. 7/8 is the biggest I've seen. I see a lot of guys use smaller ones like 5/8, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 etc. The reason is that you can do fast runs and get up and down the neck way quicker. You just can't do it with a 4/4 or a 7/8. Plus smaller-bodied basses are lighter and easier to store.

Yes, I love playing the bass. People who don't have no idea what they are missing. It's a joy and a challenge. There's so many secrets it has and it is a joy discovering them and learning to use them. In a week, you're doing stuff you never thought you could do. Last March I could only make a scratching sound with a bow. "Mary Had a Little Lamb" was out of my league but now I'm playing "The Entertainer" with a bow in front of an audience. It's a lot of sweat and practice but that's why it's worth doing. If any ol' hack could do it without breaking a sweat, I wouldn't bother learning it. Personally, I think it's the greatest instrument ever made.

07 Apr 12 - 09:43 AM (#3334909)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: jimmyt

mine was made lefty at the factory,and it is amazing the sound I get when the soundpost and bass bar are where they belong!

22 Oct 17 - 12:54 PM (#3883878)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today

Any idea where you got this picture from josepp? I bought this bass about nine years ago and was just curious who owned it before.

Bohemian Gamben

23 Oct 17 - 07:51 AM (#3884043)
Subject: RE: Bought a double bass today
From: Mo the caller

You could sing that thread title to a beatles tune