Since my first Double Bass Diaries post a year ago, I’ve made significant progress on the double bass. Many of the complicated aspects of playing this huge instrument are improving for me including left and right hand technique, finger strength, sitting and standing posture, arm weight and position, and overall playing comfort. I no longer get intense finger and hand pain although some left-hand pain still creeps in after practicing for long periods. I’ll continue to try and get 1-2 hours practice in per day.
On the technical side, I switched from Thomastik Spirocore medium (mittel) gauge to light (weich) gauge strings and it’s made a difference. I find the string tension is considerably less and much easier on my hands. I also find the overall tone and volume of the bass seems to have improved as well. I’ve recently had bridge adjusters installed which allowed me to lower the string height action and helped improve my pizzicato playing and speed. I think the next set of strings I’ll experiment with is synthetic core – either Pirastro Obligatos or Dominants, or maybe even Evah Pirazzi (which I’m told sound like Obligatos on steroids). They’re pricier strings so it’s going to take me a while to find my favourite. However, I’m definitely enjoying the sound and feel of Spirocore weich strings.
This past year I’ve had the pleasure of rehearsing and performing with the Pacific Geoscience Centre Christmas Band once again. We played two Christmas concerts in December which received great feedback. What a great group of musicians to play with – and a good mix of instruments including a four-piece violin section, double bass, drums, keyboards, flute, and electric guitar. Seriously, there’s really nothing better than jamming and performing with other musicians to accelerate and improve your double bass playing skills.