The first lesson one must learn when playing the Double Bass is how to hold and stand with the instrument. You will see people holding the bass in all sorts of crazy and wild ways. While we are all different shaped beings there are some stead fast rules that will make holding the bass a comfort and not an odyssey.
I approach holding the Upright Bass the same way you would climb up a ladder. There will always be three points of contact that are keeping the instrument upright and in position.
The purpose of these three points of contact is to eliminate our want to hold the bass up with our left hand. If you hold the bass using our left hand we place unwarranted pressure on the thumb. Using this method you will free your left hand and arm to move freely up and down the neck of the instrument.
Three Points Of Contact
- The endpin is our first and easiest point of contact. Though make sure that you have it at the proper height. The ‘F’ note on the E’ String of the bass should be at about the top of your ear.
- Your left knee and end of your femur(upper leg) will be touching the back of the bass below the bottom of the C bout on the E string side of the instrument. Your knee is the key to keeping the bass from falling forward or backwards. The knee should feel as though it is “locked in” with the lower bout.
- The back edge of the bass above the C bout will be resting against your stomach or pelvis.
In the Pictures below you see the side of my knee on the bass.
As well as the two points of contact at the knee and on the stomach
- Your feet should be positioned in a slightly separated “L” shape. Your feet should not be spaced too far apart. The feet should be securely on the ground(no heels hovering in the air)
- Ones knees should also be slightly bent not “locked”.
- The bass is also at an angle leaning in towards you. Not straight up and down. Your mantra being “Bring the bass to you, don’t bring you to the bass.”
- Make sure your shoulders are free of tension as well. Something we should all remind ourselves through out our playing.
Proper Foot Angle and Spacing
This method does take some practice for most folks. You are on the right track if the bass is falling forward instead of backwards. Eventually you will get to the point were you can let go of the bass with both hands and the instrument does not move.
Again this method should be viewed as a starting point of holding the bass. In are playing we all will move to the music. By using this approach you will always have a safe place to start from.
I hope this lesson gives you some insight into holding the Double Bass. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me. If you are in doubt about your stance don’t hesitate to contact a music teacher in your area. They will be able to quickly correct any negative posture habits that you might have developed.
Happy Bass Playing
Look Ma No Hands!
1373 Grandview Ave Suite 213 Columbus, OH 43212 (614)262-9586