Finding Balance: Standing Techniques for Double Bass Players

This blog post provides techniques and insights for double bass players to achieve balance and comfort when playing their instrument while standing, emphasizing the importance of adjusting stance, connecting the bass with the hip bone, and utilizing whole body motion for shifting.

With Jason Heath · San Francisco, CA

As a double bass player, have you ever struggled with playing while standing? Many bassists, including myself, started sitting on a stool and lost the ability to play while standing. It can be embarrassing and frustrating. But fear not! In this blog post, I will share with you the techniques I’ve learned that unlocked the keys to standing with the bass.

Standing Techniques

When I first began experimenting with standing while playing the double bass, I was immediately confronted with a significant challenge. The weight of the instrument seemed to shift, causing an uncomfortable and unfamiliar pressure on my left thumb. This sensation was not only unnatural, but it also posed a considerable hindrance to my playing. The entire experience was disconcerting, and it felt as though I had to relearn how to handle the instrument I had become so familiar with.

However, instead of letting this setback discourage me, I used it as a motivation to explore and find solutions. This challenge propelled me into a journey of discovery, where I experimented with various techniques and adjustments. Through this process, I was able to identify different strategies that significantly helped in overcoming this issue. These solutions not only addressed the problem at hand but also enriched my understanding and control over the double bass while standing.

I – Adjusting Stance

One of the primary techniques I discovered involved adjusting my stance. Instead of standing completely upright, I found that leaning towards my bass was more beneficial. This slight tilt assisted in redistributing the weight of the instrument, thus relieving some of the pressure that was previously being exerted on my left thumb, which was an area of great discomfort for me. The redistribution of weight made the bass feel more like a part of me, making the playing experience more comfortable and natural.

However, it’s important to note that what worked for me might not work for everyone. The key here is experimentation. Try different stances, angles, and positions until you find the one that feels the most comfortable for you. It’s about finding your own balance and comfort while playing the double bass. After all, each player is unique, and what matters most is making the instrument a seamless extension of yourself.

II – Bass and Hip Bone Connection

One significant revelation that came up during my exploration was the importance of the connection between the corner of the double bass and my left hip bone. The strategic positioning of the bass against this part of my body was a game-changer. I realized that this connection allowed for greater stability, a crucial factor when dealing with an instrument as large and heavy as the double bass. It also granted me enhanced control over the instrument, something that is vitally important when trying to achieve a certain sound or execute particular techniques.

The specific technique I developed involved clamping the bass between my left hip bone and my fingers. This action allowed me to draw the weight of the bass towards my body, preventing it from falling sideways. By pulling the weight of the instrument closer to my body’s central mass, I was able to maintain a more balanced stance while playing. This approach greatly improved my stability and control over the instrument, making the whole experience of standing while playing the double bass more enjoyable and less straining.

III – Whole Body Motion for Shifting

Shifting is an absolutely essential skill for any bass player to master. It’s a fundamental part of playing the double bass and can often feel challenging, especially when standing. However, through my journey, I’ve discovered a newfound way to approach it that was indeed a game-changer for me. This involved viewing shifting not just as a hand or arm movement but as a whole-body motion. I started incorporating my entire body into the process, which added a new dimension to my playing.

Specifically, the technique I developed involved slightly bowing into the bass when going down the fingerboard. This motion engaged more of my body, and it helped me feel more connected to the instrument. On the contrary, when I was shifting up, I let my left hip bone guide the bass out. This hip movement allowed me to control the bass’s positioning more effectively and to maintain balance during the shift. This whole-body approach to shifting was immensely beneficial. It improved my shifting technique, increased my comfort while standing, and offered me a greater sense of freedom in my playing.

Leverage and Comfort

Aside from the challenges, standing while playing the bass also brought significant benefits. Here are two major advantages that made me addicted to playing in this position:

I – Leverage with the Bow

Standing allowed me to leverage the bow more effectively, improving my overall playing experience. I found that when I stood, I could optimize the contact point between the bow and the strings, getting as close as possible to my center of gravity. This made playing in different positions, including thumb position, much more comfortable and natural.

II – Sense of Freedom

Standing provided me with a sense of freedom and flow while playing. Unlike sitting, where I often felt locked into one position, standing allowed me to move around, shift my weight, and remain in a state of flow with my instrument. This freedom of movement reduced tension and enriched my playing.

Final Thoughts

Standing while playing the double bass is not only possible but can be incredibly beneficial. By experimenting with different techniques and finding what works best for you, you can unlock the keys to standing with the bass. Adjusting your stance, finding the right connection between the bass and your hip bone, and incorporating whole-body motion for shifting are essential elements to consider. Embrace the leverage and freedom that standing provides. Don’t limit yourself to a single position; instead, flow with your instrument and explore new possibilities. Whether you choose to sit or stand, the ultimate goal is to find balance in your playing.

We hope you found this blog post helpful in your journey to master standing techniques for double bass playing. Remember, practice and experimentation are key. Keep honing your skills, and enjoy the freedom that standing with the bass can bring.

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