What Should My Left Hand Look Like When Playing The Double Bass

One of the biggest hurdles a new Double Bass Student must address in lessons, is the proper hand shape of the left hand.  Having the proper hand shape is important for ease of playing but equally importantly intonation.  In this article we discuss steps  to and techniques to help you achieve an accurate left hand.



Hand Shape and Thumb Location


Let’s start with our basic hand shape and thumb positioning.  I instruct my students to make the letter C with their Left Hand  and then slide the C onto the neck of the bass.  Then work your thumb down towards the floor slightly so it ends up behind your second(middle) finger.  We do not want our thumb pointed toward the sky.  The other visualization that I find helpful to use is holding a pint glass your thumb warps around the cup.  However make sure you are not wrapping your thumb around the bass neck and touching the strings.


How To Hold The Double Bass

The first lesson one must learn when playing the Double Bass is how to hold and stand with the instrument.  You will see people holding the bass in all sorts of crazy and wild ways. While we are all different shaped beings there are some stead fast rules that  will make holding the bass a comfort and not an odyssey.


I approach holding the Upright Bass the same way you would climb up a ladder. There will always be three points of contact that are keeping the instrument upright and in position. 


The purpose of these three points of contact is to eliminate our want to hold the bass up with our left hand.  If you hold the bass using our left hand we place unwarranted pressure on the thumb.  Using this method you will free your left hand and arm to move freely up and down the neck of the instrument.


Floating Thumb Technique For the Electric Bass

In this bass guitar lesson we will discuss the Floating Thumb, a technique that one must master to become a proficient player of the instrument. This technique serves two purposes. First it gives our right hand a neutral starting posture meaning we are not over extending the thumb joints. The second it provides a built in mute for our E and A strings. The more you play the bass the more you will realize that half the battle is making sure unwanted strings are not sympathetically vibrating. 

    Example of what the Floating Thumb technique should look like

More Than One Way To Pluck A Double Bass

Recently I have been in the recording studio laying down double bass tracks for a number of local area artist’s and have had the chance to fully utilize all the various ways to pluck or pizz. a bass.  Varying our right hand attack and position is a segment of bass playing that is often over looked.  In this article we will discuss the two most commons forms of pizzicato as well as variations on these forms to add different attacks and timbre’s to our playing.  Remember your sound comes from the motion and inertia of your entire arm when plucking the bass.  If you feel as though you are just using your finger to create sound concentrate on being aware of your wrist and forearm as well.

Tips For Purchasing Your First Mandolin


Through out my years of  teaching I have been constantly distraught at the quality of beginner mandolins that have walked through my door for students first lesson.  This is no fault of the student but a problem that plagues the music retail industry.  For what ever reason be its size and more complex construction finding a quality starter mandolin can be a frustrating task.  It is my goal in this blog to offer up some things to look for when shopping for a mandolin.




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