Learning to Play the Double Bass

Learning to play the double bass is a wonderful thing. As a double bass player, you will have many varied opportunities that you can pursue.

The double bass is not just an orchestral instrument and is widely used in Jazz and Big Band music. Notwithstanding a lot of new bands and groups use the double bass in preference to the bass guitar.

There are lots of different types of people who decide to start playing the double bass. However, whatever their age, albeit adult or child, they generally fall into one of the following groups:

  • New to musical instrument playing and possibly no previous musical experience
  • Already playing an instrument and want to start double bass as a second instrument
  • Bass guitarists/electric bass players converting to double bass
Double Bass Shop

The Three Ingredients to Success

Although each group will have specific needs, the following basic three ingredients will be essential to be successful in learning the double bass.

A Good Teacher

A good teacher who’s first instrument is double bass is essential. The double bass technique is to some extent different from other string instruments. You can use online resources like musicteachers.co.uk to find a local teacher. We would recommend that when selecting a teacher you read their profile carefully. A general strings teacher would list the instruments they teach as Violin, Viola, cello and double bass. A double bass teacher would usually list the double bass first on their profile. Also, don’t be swayed by a long list of names they have played with as they may be a great musician. However great musicians don’t always make the best teacher.

A Good Double Bass

In short, you need a double bass that is set up correctly so that it is easy to play and sounds great. This will give you the best headstart and result in the best possible progress when beginning the double bass.

If the double bass isn’t set up correctly it will be hard to play and it may well prove too difficult resulting in the player giving up. Great sounding double basses are encouraging to play from the outset.


Practising little and often is the key to begin with. The double bass is more physically demanding that the bass guitar for instance and you will have to build up your stamina gradually although it will come quicker than you may at first think.

Online Lessons VS a Teacher in Person

We always recommend having a double bass teacher to give you lessons in person. The teacher can spot your mistakes as they happen and correct them immediately. That said there are some excellent online video courses available, the best being Geoff Chalmers discoverdoublebass.com Quite a large number of our Double Bass Hire customers use a combination of both.

Hire and Rental VS Buying a Double Bass

We would always recommend that you hire first, just in case you decide further down the line that double bass playing just isn’t for you. We have a student bass hire scheme that is geared toward beginners. Our hire removes the financial risk of giving up, as we will use your first three hire payments as a discount against any double bass you buy from us. In other words, if you buy a double bass from us within the first three months of hire it will cost no more than if you purchased it outright from the beginning.

New VS Used Double Basses

The key thing with new vs used is; Is the double bass setup correctly? There are quite a few used basses on the market because someone has purchased a double bass that isn’t set up correctly and has realised that in hindsight setup is of key importance when playing the double bass. All of our double basses have our double bass setup as standard.

Cheap Double Basses – Are They Worth Buying?

In a word no. Cheap double basses are generally not set up properly. Some of the reasons that they’re not set up properly are:

  • They aren’t possible to set up because the fingerboard isn’t ebony. Shooting the fingerboard is integral to double bass setup.
  • They are so cheap that there cannot be enough money in them to have been set up properly.

Cheap double basses are generally a false economy.

How Much Practice Should I be Doing?

We would recommend 10-15 minutes daily if possible. With this frequency of practise you will see better than expected progress.

What’s the Difference Between Playing Electric Bass and Double Bass?

Although there are a lot of transferable skills between Electric/bass guitar and double bass, there are some fundamental differences in technique. We always recommend getting a double bass teacher to set you off in the right direction.

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