What’s the difference?

Among all the string instruments, the doublebass is probably the most unique and least standardized.  This is in part to it’s origins and development over time.  In a way, the modern doublebass is a hybrid of sorts.   It carries over the 4ths tuning from the gamba/viol lineage, yet the f-holes and body shape is closer to violin pattern (especially those with fiddle-corners).  All modern instruments are set-up for high tension playing with steel strings.

Here are some of the common differences among instruments and players:

seated vs. standing

low stool vs. high stool

straight endpin vs. bent endpin (Laborie/Rabbath style endpin)

standard tailpiece vs. cable-style taipiece

orchestra strings vs. solo strings

4ths tuning vs. 5ths tuning (Joel Quarrington & Red Mitchell)

orchestra strings vs. jazz strings

regular fingerboard vs. extended fingerboard

dots on the fingerboard vs. no dots

low C extension vs. no extension

fingered extension vs. machine extension

4 string set-up vs. 5 string set-up

Tune 5th string to low-C vs. low-B

jazz set-up vs. orchestra set-up

underwood pickup vs. microphone

ebony bridge adjusters vs. aluminum bridge adjusters

german bow vs. french bow

white hair vs. “salt & pepper” hair vs. black hair (3 differences!!)

german “hat-peg” tuners vs. standard machine tuners

This list could go on, and I’m not even getting super picky yet….

Feel free to add to this list in the “comments” section above.


About tunedin4ths

David Ballam Doctoral Student at the University of Texas at Austin Doublebass Instructor: UT String Project & Round Rock School District BLOG: https://tunedin4ths.wordpress.com/ WEB: https://ballam.musicteachershelper.com
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