The Basics

  • Strings: (high) G, D, A, E (low)
  • Main accessories: Rock stop & stool
  • Bow: Shortest and thickest, with a large frog
  • Bows can be French or German
  • Tuned in fourths -- strings are reverse of violin

Posture & Positioning Checkpoints

Sitting - recommended for beginning/intermediate students
  • Stool legs at an angle--one stool leg facing music stand (makes a diamond) so left foot can comfortably prop on a wrung of the stool
  • Sit on front half of stool--should have space behind them for rosin/cloth, phone, or beverage.
  • ​​Right foot comfortably on the floor (no tip toes!), left foot on stool wrung
  • Bass resting on left leg, neck tilted slightly toward player, edge of bass resting against inside of left hip
  • Back straight, spine elongated
  • Instrument at slight angle so player can reach all four strings (without having to pick up the bass to play the E string)
  • Bend from hips to reach higher shifts

Left Hand Checkpoints

  • Fingers curved to play on finger tips -- nails must be kept short enough to properly play on tips of fingers
  • Hand shaped like a "C" -- like holding a soda can
  • Thumb aligned between 1st and 2nd finger
  • Fingers evenly spaced

Right Hand Checkpoints

  • Thumb on side of fingerboard (not under), halfway between shouder & end of fingerboard 
  • Fingers curled in
  • Pluck with the index finger (near smallest knuckle)
  • Pluck away from where the bow will be... about halfway between the shoulder and the end of the fingerboard
  • Tilt top of hand slightly back to face ceiling, fingers pointed toward end of fingerboard

  • Curved thumb, inside corner of thumbnail touches inside corner of the bow where frog meets stick.
  • Fingers draped comfortably over stick, stick touches where fingers meet palm
  • Pinky also draped over stick.
  • Bow should land comfortably past the fingerboard
Check out this video & Remember these two things:
  1. Don't underestimate your bass players.
  2. Remember, small students AND female students can be just as successful as tall boys.
Page Contributor:

Emmaleigh Carr, bassist and teacher