"Do I need to learn to play the double bass?  

"I have been playing electric bass for a few years.  Do you think I should also learn the play the double bass?"

This is a common question from young players.  They have been told that they really should learn the double bass, particularly if they are going to enroll in college music school.

My answer to these young bassists is, "If you need to ask me this question, I suggest you do not try the double bass."  If you had a burning desire to play this big, beautiful sounding instrument you would already be doing it and not waiting for anyone to give you permission. 

 

Playing an instrument because someone says that you should is no fun and will not last.  It is vital that you play music because you love it.  If the electric bass turns you on, then master it!  Stay focused on your practice and don't splinter your time with other endeavors.  

Now, after saying all that, if you are attracted to the sound and feel of the big bass, GET AFTER IT!  You will become a better musician just by your practicing the double bass.  Your ears will grow by playing the double bass.  It will be a physical challenge.  Challenges will always introduce you to yourself, and that is a good thing.  The organic feel and sound of the double bass is nothing like the electric.  I have said in the past that the only thing the electric bass and the double bass have in common is the pitch of the four strings.  

The only reason you may "need" to learn the double bass is if you want to pursue classical, orchestral music. 

I started on guitar as a youngster.  I then moved to the electric bass.  When I went to college and heard jazz players on the double bass, that was it! I was hooked.  I spent the next twenty years playing mostly double bass, jazz and orchestral.

The main advice I would like to give if you decide to play the double bass is to get a "real" double bass.  While there are a ton of cool hybrid basses, nothing replaces that acoustic feel and sound.  Don't get a small one.  Don't get a stick.  Don''t get a metal, or carbon one.  Don''t get one with a "cut-away."  etc.  Get a normal 3/4 sized, wood, full body, double bass. 

Set up on your double bass is vital.  Take your bass to a double bass shop and have them set it up for you. No one will last while trying to play a bass that is a bear to play. 

 

The feel and natural timbre produced by a wood bass is what attracts most people to the double bass.  That is also what will cause you to fall in love with your double bass.

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