Upright Bass

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Standup, upright, or double bass, is the largest and lowest of stringed instruments in contemporary orchestras. Played with a bow or by plucking (also known as pizzicato), the upright bass has perhaps the most extensive crossover history among orchestral instruments, becoming integral to most popular music in the mid-20th century.

Evolving from the viola de gamba instruments of 15th century Europe, most early double basses had three strings. It’s also closely related to the violin family, sharing similarities in internal structure, despite its depth and steeply sloped shoulders. Upright basses usually have fretless, wooden fingerboards.

Standup basses can have backs that are rounded, flat, or angled. Most of the variations feature a raised wooden bridge framed by two f-holes, four strings that terminate at a raised tailpiece and scroll-carved head.

What are the differences between an upright bass and cello?

Upright basses are larger and deeper in timbre than cellos. While the cello is connected to the ground via a large, narrow endpin, the lower bout of a standup bass has a shorter, wider endpin, supporting the greater weight of the instrument. Double basses are usually tuned in fourths to E-A-D-G, like guitars and electric basses, while cellos are usually tuned in fifths to C-G-D-A.

Like cellos, upright basses are made in various sizes, from 4/4 and ⅞ (rare large sizes) to ¼ and ⅛ for children. ¾ is the most popular size for adults. Both are also available with 5 strings.

How does upright bass compare to bass guitar or electric bass?

Some of the differences between double bass and bass guitars commonly associated with contemporary popular music, such as size and playing posture, are obvious. However, what many inexperienced musicians might not consider is how different playing the two instruments is. Much of the volume and timbre when playing upright bass comes from the shoulders band back, rather than the fingers.

What accessories do I need for my upright bass?

The most obvious accessory for double bass is strings. Upright bass strings were originally made of animal intestine (called gut) but steel has become the standard material, although some musicians still prefer gut strings. Synthetic nylon is also an option. Gut strings are more fragile and susceptible to climate variations. Steel strings tend to produce more consistent intonation all around the fingerboard.

Reverb also offers double bass stands from companies like Hercules and NS Design, cases, and bows.

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