When people first contact me about starting double bass lesson the immediate question is where should I get an instrument? Should I buy or rent? For the person just starting out I always recommend renting a bass before you spend $2000 or more on an instrument. Some places even offer a rent to own option where the money used on the rental can be applied to an upgraded instrument.
So lets say you have rented an instrument you love playing the double bass and you want to find an instrument that is your own. The most important pieces of advice I have for you are. 1. Go to a shop the specialize's in Double bass. If one is not near by then a reputable violin shop in your area will do. Either way you will be trying instruments that have been properly set up which is key to trying out instruments. 2. Have patience. You do not have to buy a bass at the first place you visit and nor should you feel pressured to. I visited the same shop a year or so apart and first there were basses I like but nothing that truly grabbed my attention. When I returned a year later I found the double bass that I still play to this day.
The next step is focusing on an instrument that fits your needs. A bass that is a great classical instrument that can be the anchor of a bass section in a symphony may not be a great jazz or bluegrass instrument. Also don’t focus on a brand of bass that doesn’t really apply all that much in the bass world. You will hear talk about how different countries bass builders have certain sounds and this does tend to be true. With Italian basses being big and dark, French basses more focused and with a brighter sound and German basses somewhere in the middle of the two. Please again go into buying an instrument with no disposition, always being open to every uniqueness of each individual bass.
Play the same piece’s of music on each bass. Start with some octave scales so you get an idea of how the instrument sounds through out it full range and how feels shifting into various positions on the bass. Next play a song or two that you have committed to memory. I like to play a nice “pretty” song as well as a fast more aggressive one. You will hopefully start to get a feel of the range of emotion that each particular instrument creates. Do this with all the basses in your price range, if you start to find one or two that you like come back to them as you explore the rest of the basses and play a few different things on them.
One very useful thing is to have a fellow bass player or two come with you. That way you can step in front of the instrument. Seeing how the instrument projects and what its tone is like from “behind the Box”. Another reason for having a friend along is they might notice something good or bad about the instrument that you might have missed. If you don’t have anyone to take with you, once you have narrowed your choices down to a few basses the salesperson should be able to play the instrument for you. But we all know a friend is always better.
Once you have found a double bass you want to take home, most stores offer a weeks trial period with a down payment via a credit card or check. This gives you the opportunity to take the bass and play it in your band or orchestra for your friends and teachers and really decide if it is the one for you.
I hope this article gives you a brief insight in to purchasing a Double Bass. I wish you luck finding the instrument that will bring you and your audience musical joy. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.
1373 Grandview Ave Suite 213 Columbus, OH 43212 (614)262-9586