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Jazz Bass Lessons: Standing and Sitting Position

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It's very important to get our posture and
our position standing and
sitting with the instrument settled so
that we are able to address
the instrument without
being tempted to bear weight too much
with our thumb and our left hand.
So in other words, I have the instrument
resting against, This is one way to do it
anyway, I have it resting against my
stomach a little bit so it's pretty
much resting there and I don't have to
bear weight with my hands and my arms.
They're there to just direct a little bit.
This is one way to do it.
I'll show you a couple
different ways to do it.
So we'd like to have the instrument
resting against us so
that we can have a straight
line with our left hand, see?
Like this and moving up and down the
instrument without having to stress out or
have any weird break in the wrist over
here, just like this, so we have access.
This little thing is called a nut,
this piece of wood that goes
across the strings where the strings
go across it on it's way to the tuners.
If our eyes are around the level of the
nut at the beginning of the scroll there,
then we've got a pretty good position.
Now everybody's different,
people's arms are different.
You want to have the bass resting against
you and the height of the end pin,
which we'll show you the end pin in a
little bit, the height of the end pin has
to be such that we can touch the bass and
use our right arm like this.
It's down towards the end of the
fingerboard but not off the fingerboard.
Right down here is the sweet spot for
pulling a sound, and
we let the weight, see how we're
letting the weight of our right arm.
Thinking of the weight of
the whole arm to be able to be
that energy to be able to be transferred
to the top of the bass to make it vibrate.
So, notice what I'm doing here, I'm
letting the weight of my entire arm and
the wrist is able to bend
a little bit there and
the forearm is bringing down the weight.
I'm thinking of the weight really coming
from all the way at the top of my
shoulder down and
pulling the sound on the instrument.
I can do that because the instrument is
comfortably resting against me,
I'm standing straight up, okay, and
my feet are planted.
This is incredibly important because
if we're balanced in such a way where
our feet are not really equally
balanced, we start developing bad habits.
We start leaning different ways.
We start trying to adjust for
the fact that we can't really support
the weight of the instrument
with our body position and
we start to try to do it with our arms and
our hands and that's how we get hurt.
So try to get the weight
distribution right.
Look, that's a balanced
hand position right there.
The thumb is behind the neck,
behind the second finger and
we hold our hands there and
we've got a nice situation where we can
pull a nice sound.
Now, this is for standing.
Some people distribute their weight.
Ludwig Streicher, famous German virtuoso,
he had his students put their
knee behind the bass and
let the weight sort of rest there but
that's up to you, that's discretionary.
I like to have both legs planted more.
For me, that's a better position but
that is something some people do.
They have it like this,
they have the left leg
from the knee down, kind of bracing the
back of the bass and holding it like that.
See I have it like that now.
That's another way but then your foots
kind of off the ground a little bit,
it can be and I'm not as in favor
of that one but it's a possibility.
So, now let's do the sitting position.
What you want to have is still retain the
idea that your feet have to be planted.
Get the stool situated in such a way where
you can sit on the end of the stool,
have your feet planted, and
you address the base like this.
Again, the base is leaning against you,
you can have your hand,
you can play at the end of the fingerboard
and get that big sound using the weight,
see how my arm drops?
Relaxed weight, you pull a sound.
So again, the left hand
addresses the bass straight
across the elbow, does not collapse,
the elbow comes straight across like this.
Your hand set up, you hold your
fingers in that kind of make a C
with your left hand,
then you have a straight line there.
There's a whole step here
and it's divided into equal half steps.
We'll talk more about this in
a little bit but this is an A flat.
The open strings are E, A, D, G.
So this A flat here is
the first note you can finger.
There's an A and a B flat right together.
So those three, you have to be able
to play those evenly with the thumb
behind without pressing into the neck too
much, it should be a relaxed position.
Again, the arm is as much in
a straight line as possible.
So this is the sitting position.
Later on,
once you get into thumb position,
you can really just lean over the bass and
So you have the whole bass at your
disposal and
that's a good sitting position.