Watch The Video Lesson

First, a few questions:

What’s the purpose of this bass lesson series?

These lessons are different that other lessons that you may have come across. I am presenting them as my step-by-step journal and commentary from a student’s perspective as I learn how to play the double bass. In each lesson I will cover what I have just learned, any struggles I have had and how I have grown. I welcome your comments and questions on each one.

Am I too old to start learning the bass?

Absolutely not. I have to believe this since I’m no spring chicken myself!  You’re never too old. If you are 60 instead of 16 it might take you a bit longer to master material, but again that depends on you and if you have prior musical training. My instructor told me that he thinks adult students learn better because they are more disciplined and focused.

How often do I need to practice?

It’s better to practice a little daily than a long session only once a week. Shoot for 15 minutes a day at first. You can increase it as you progress.

My fingers hurt, should I stop practicing?

It’s natural as calluses develop. If you have severe pain stop.

What strings should I use?

I chose Thomastik-Infeld Belcantos. Good for both arco and pizz. I may try some others in the future. Bass strings are not cheap.

Here are the string specs from the manufacturer, Thomastik Infeld:

  • Core: specially twisted steel rope core; settles in quickly, they intonate extremely well; exceptional tuning stability
  • Tone: dark and warm with excellent resonance; wide range of tone colors; easy to blend; pizzicato is open and free
  • Sound: outstanding projection with moderate effort; sustains better than most other arco (bowing) string brands
  • Playability: quick response to the bow; soft under your fingers; fantastic hybrid capability

Belcantos are for 3/4 size (and possibly some 7/8 or 4/4 depending on scale length) basses, with a scale length up to 110cm (43.3 inches). They have a steel rope core and are chromium wound.

Tension: G=28.25kg/62.2 lbs; D=27.75kg/63.3 lbs; A=29.25kg/64.4 lbs; E=28.75kg/63.3 lbs; Set=115kg/253.20 lbs.

What kind of rosin should I use?

Choosing rosin seems to be as individualized as choosing strings. There are many different brands and formulations of bass rosin. I started out using Pops rosin, which is a very popular rosin. It is very soft and it will literally melt if you leave it in a warm area, such as in your car in the sun. Pops gives a lot of grip, but it also leaves a lot of rosin dust on the strings and on the bass. I have also used Nyman-Harts, from Sweden. This rosin is harder than pops and leaves very little rosin dust on the strings and virtually none on the instrument. Currently I am trying Holstein’s rosin. I have both the “all weather” and the soft rosin. The all weather rosin worked well with my Holtz student bow, but I recently purchased a Pernambuco bass bow that has black horse hair and this bow seems to want a lot of rosin, so I have been trying the Kolstein soft rosin with it and so far it is working well.

How do I know when to move onto the next stage?

That’s a hard question to answer. It’s a combination of how comfortable and confident you feel personally with the material along with your instructor’s opinion, if you are studying with someone.