History and Information
The bass is known by many names, including the double bass, the contrabass, the stand-up bass, the upright bass, and the string bass. The electric bass guitar, while sharing the same pitch range and strings, is completely different in technique and construction. The instrument we know today originated in the 15th and 16th centuries. Although it is technically a viol and more closely related to the guitar, it is often grouped together with the other bowed stringed instruments, the violin family (which includes violin, viola, and cello). There are two different styles of bow available: French (which is the style of bow that violins, violas, and cellos use) and German (which is older and preferred by many players). There is an extensive repertoire for the bass, including classical, jazz, pop, and folk music.
When to Start
Students can start bass lessons around age 7, depending on height, fine motor skills, and hand strength. Because the instrument is so large, we do not recommended starting before then. It also requires a certain amount of care, as both the instrument and the bow are fragile. Most instructors will incorporate reading music into their lessons, so students should know at least some reading and counting fundamentals.
Getting a Bass
There are many brands and models of basses available for rent or purchase. For very young students, you may want to consider renting instruments for two reasons: 1) they will most likely grow out of instruments quickly and 2) they may lose interest (although we hope they don’t!). Most stores provide repair services for instruments that they rent out. We can give you recommendations for places near you to buy or rent your bass. Please contact us, and be sure to include your location!
[Please note: A used bass is not necessarily inferior to a new one. In fact, older instruments will often be easier to play and have a better sound quality. Watch out for any large cracks or open seams, but most wear and tear due to age will not affect the playability or sound of the instrument.]
Books and Supplies
Your instructor can tell you which books and supplies are appropriate. Most books and many supplies, including strings and rosin, are available online. We can recommend stores near you where you can purchase supplies and music for your bass, if you prefer to do so in person. Please contact us, and again, remember to tell us where you live!
**Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. We can help provide you with additional resources.**