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Double Bass Playing Techniques

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The double bass, also called the string bass, has two general types: the acoustic upright bass and the electric upright bass. When playing the double bass, musicians utilize different techniques. Here are some of them:

Arco - Otherwise known as bowing. This is the same technique used to play the violin and cello. The length of strings on a double bass as well as other string instruments depends on the length of the instrument. When it comes to the double bass, the string length may be from 90 centimeters for the 1/4 to 106 centimeters for the 3/4 (measurements based on total length).

Pizzicato - Also known as striking. The musician strikes the strings to produce sound, usually using the side of the index finger. This technique is often used by jazz players.

Slap Bass - The musician plucks or pulls the strings and releases it. As the strings slap or hit the finger board it creates notes that has an added "click" to it.

Famous Musicians for Each Playing Technique

Arco/Bowing: Domenico Dragonetti (1763-1846)
Dragonetti is considered a virtuoso and is credited as the reason why the double bass enjoys its place in an orchestra. He used the method of underhanded bowing.

Pizzicato/Striking: Raymond Matthews Brown (1926 - 2002)
Ray Brown was one of the bassists who used the pizzicato technique in his playing. He worked with many famous artists such as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Brown is also known as a leading bassist of the bop style.

Slap Bass/Slapping: Marshall Lytle
Lytle popularized the slap-back method; he has played with other famous artists such as Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. He belonged to the group "Bill Haley and the Comets" famous for the song "Shake, Rattle and Roll."

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