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Taking up the bass at 60


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Hi there,

 

I'm thinking of getting a double bass again at the age of 60 - for practice at home mostly at the moment. I learned the upright a little bit as a kid and had an electric bass for a while as a young man and had a few lessons (with Andy Crowdy!) before I gave up through laziness. I'd like to play jazz and a maybe a bit of folk. I've been looking on Gumtree and am wondering about an EUB such as this:

 

https://www.gumtree.com/p/double-bass/the-warwick-rockbass-triumph-lite-4-string-electric-double-bass-black/1412413340

 

Or there's this 3/4 1940s Italian job:

https://www.gumtree.com/p/double-bass/1940s-italian-3-4-double-bass/1409357419

 

Or this cheaper Gear4 Music 3/4 one:

https://www.gumtree.com/p/double-bass/3-4-double-bass-with-french-bow-stand-soft-case-and-scores/1411894555

 

I'm a complete newbie and not that musical so would appreciate any advice anyone has.

 

Many thanks, Simon.

 

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The Gumtree bass looks like potentially a nice deal, though it's very unlikely to be Italian - I'd suggest German or Czech. But it looks to be coming from a player and has decent strings already, so would probably get you going without needing much. If you can find a bass playing friend to come and look at it with you, it would certainly be worth checking out.

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Good for you!

I switched to upright at 69 and started with a Stagg and then moved up to a Yamaha SLB 200 which is a wonderful instrument and I use it for band rehearsals( two bands) and at gigs where space is very tight. In 2018 I travelled to England and attended the BC Double Bass Bash and three months later I bought a double bass and just a few weeks ago I traded for a better DB.

I bought both DB's used and so far so good. I have been using DB for gigs and it is a lot of fun to play but it took a while to get anywhere near decent on it, a totally different beast compared to EB.

If I were starting again I would go straight to DB, although the EUB can be a good choice provided it is similar to a DB in terms of neck, set up and strings, including string length.

Good luck finding a suitable instrument but be warned, DB is seriously addictive! 😊 

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9 hours ago, Beer of the Bass said:

The Gumtree bass looks like potentially a nice deal, though it's very unlikely to be Italian - I'd suggest German or Czech. But it looks to be coming from a player and has decent strings already, so would probably get you going without needing much. If you can find a bass playing friend to come and look at it with you, it would certainly be worth checking out.

Thanks so much for your replies and encouragement everyone. The owner of the EUB has confirmed it is not an ideal starter because the pickup is so sensitive and so your fretting has to be precise, which mine won't! The owner of the 1940s so called Italian one (a Berini?) is a musician himself and said it was his starter bass and so I might have to go and look at that. He has recommended the strings be changed though as they are old and also brand that's known to be tough on the fingers. I'll let you know what I decide!

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11 hours ago, simonrwarner said:

The owner of the EUB has confirmed it is not an ideal starter because the pickup is so sensitive and so your fretting has to be precise, which mine won't!

 

Not sure why the sensitivity of the pickup would be an issue ... if your intonation is out (which is will be to start with) then the last thing you'd want is to have that 'disguised'.

 

In truth, it doesn't really matter that much what your first DB is. If you take to the instrument, then chances are you'll be planning your first upgrade within a few months. 😂

 

My first was a £300 no-name Chinese DB (3/4 size). I had an introductory lesson with @Jake Bass to make sure that I had the basics right - how to hold it, what height to set it to, how to press the strings without straining my wrist, how to pluck properly, etc. - and played my first two DB gigs on it at local festivals with a steampunk folk outfit.

 

Before the Summer was out, I had traded up to a £1000 Zeller which (10 years later) I still gig regularly with my rockabilly band. If you're anywhere near Burnham (Slough) tonight, come along and have a chat. We start at 7:30pm.

 

 

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On 19/08/2021 at 12:33, simonrwarner said:

 I've been looking on Gumtree and am wondering about an EUB such as this:

 

https://www.gumtree.com/p/double-bass/the-warwick-rockbass-triumph-lite-4-string-electric-double-bass-black/1412413340

 

 

I've got one of these and used it to learn DB technique, when I got an acoustic bass after 8 months I found that the transition was very easy. It's still useful for rehearsals.

Beware that the end pin is quite short so it may not be useful if you're 6' or more; I used a copper pipe slipped over it to increase the height. Due to using BG tuners DB strings don't fit very well, but Warwick offer replacement strings.

N.B. the Triumph has an Eb neck.

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I don’t really see the point in starting on EUB, especially as you’ve mentioned you’re into jazz and folk (the latter especially relies on the sound of an acoustic bass). I guess they’re a bit physically easier, but the older gumtree bass you’ve linked to looks a great bet. As someone else mentioned, it’ll probably well set-up and ready to go.

 

If double bass is the instrument you want to play then I’d suggest getting one rather than something that’s not quite the same.

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