In this video lesson I answer a question from a member of the Discover Double Bass Study Group. Sid asked about a problem he was having balancing the double bass and using arm weight. This happens to be an issue that I’ve seen a lot recently and it’s really important to address. If you haven’t balanced the instrument correctly it can be harder to use left hand/arm weight to help keep the strings down and play with less effort. Just using the muscles in the left hand can lead to squeezing with the thumb causing fatigue and soreness. These can also be caused by poor left hand technique, or even a badly set up instrument, but without getting the correct posture and using arm/hand weight, all aspects of your playing will be harder.
Before you check out the lesson here’s a quick caveat, you will see other bassists using a different posture to the one I recommend. However, the method I describe in this lesson allows the use of arm weight in the left hand, which I consider essential to play for long periods of time in comfort and without fatigue, so I recommend you try it to see if you can use all or part of the technique. It also very easy to understand, but hard to do, so allow plenty of time for it to become second nature.
If you are having problems here’s some of the most common questions I get on this topic:
Is it all arm/hand weight, or am I actually using my arm muscles as well?
The key is to be as relaxed as possible, but you do have to use the larger muscles (mostly arm and shoulder) to position your arm in the correct shape, then you allow the weight of your hand and arm to help your left hand play the notes.
My thumb is sore, is this related?
Yes it’s very likely to be caused by squeezing the neck, rather than using hand/arm weight to keep the strings down. Watch the video then check out this other lesson called: Left Hand Thumb Technique for Double Bassists.
I don’t feel comfortable with the bass. What should I do?
This will only work if the bass is correctly balanced against you on the right angle. Symptoms that it may not be positioned correctly are that the bass feels as if it wants to fall past you, or that you are squeezing with the thumb of your left hand.
Good posture is the foundation of your technique so I recommend learning this method to see if you can apply all, or part of it to your playing. If you want to learn more about posture and all of the essential aspects of beginner’s technique check out my step-by-step video course 'Beginner’s Double Bass'.
I hope you enjoy this short video and if you have any ideas, feedback or lesson suggestions please leave a comment below.