Adjusting the Endpin Length
There are two points of reference to consider when setting the length of the bass endpin: the bridge, and the nut. Begin by adjusting the endpin so the bridge of the bass is on the same plane with the knuckles (2nd joint of finger) of the student’s right hand (Image 6.1). For many students, when the bridge makes contact with the knuckles the nut is approximately eye level. If the nut is above the top of the student’s head, the endpin can be lowered somewhat. Since human beings and double basses come in a variety of shapes and sizes the teacher needs to help each student find a suitable endpin length that allows for balance and good tone production. Setting the endpin too low or too high causes problems with the angle of the bow to the strings. A bass set too high will cause the right elbow to bend too much, the angle of the bow to the strings will change, and ultimately, the result will be a poor sound.
Double Bass Standing Posture
Double bassists should stand with their feet shoulder width apart, With their weight balanced between the two legs. The lower right back of the bass should be placed against the student's left leg. The student will need to experiment to find the place where the bass balances with their body (Image 2). Make sure the student's left leg is behind the instrument(Image 3), and their shoulders are relaxed. If the bass is to fall, it should fall forward. The bow can help support the instrument. If the weight of the instrument leans slightly into the bow it assists with tone production. The weight of the instrument should never be allowed to fall backwards, as the left thumb will then be required to support the weight of the instrument.
DOUBLE BASS POSTURE AND INSTRUMENT POSITION
Common problems with standing bass posture:
1. Leaning the bass too far inward restricts bowing on the E string and makes correct left hand placement difficult (Image 4).
Diagnosing the problem: If both legs are to the side of the instrument, and the entire side of the bass is resting against the student's belly (Image 5).
2. Leaning the bass too far outward makes bowing the G string difficult and requires the thumb of left hand to support the weight of the instrument.
Diagnosing the problem: If both legs are behind the instrument, and the left hand is supporting the weight of the instrument.
Correct: Left leg behind instrument, right leg to side. Seam of instrument (connection between back and side) making contact with student's body,with bass balanced. If the bass is going to fall, it should fall forward.
Double Bass Sitting Posture
Sitting position should be approached from a standing posture. After the student has learned where the bass balances with their body while standing, they can sit down on a stool and balance the instrument in the same way. The student should not slump over the instrument in sitting position. Depending on the height of the stool, the endpin may need to be adjusted when going from standing to sitting.
I prefer a stool height and design where my left leg can be placed on a rung of the stool with my right foot comfortably flat on the floor.
Common problems with sitting bass posture:
1. Leaning the bass too far inward restricts bowing on the E string and makes correct left hand placement difficult.
2. Leaning the bass too far outward makes bowing the G string difficult.
3. A stool height that does not permit a relaxed comfortable posture.
Correct: Left leg behind instrument, supporting the instrument.
Sitting vs. Standing
Advantages of standing:
1) Extra leverage can be gained from weight of the instrument, by leaning the instrument slightly forward into the bow. This can be especially beneficial for German Bow players.
2) Freedom for body movement.
Advantages of sitting:
1) Extra leverage gained from your arm weight, because of the increased angle of the instrument. This is particularly beneficial for French Bow players.
2) More comfortable for long rehearsals.
Many bassists sit in orchestra rehearsals but stand in solo recitals.
The bass needs to be placed where the the strings of the instrument are accessible without excessive movement of the instrument.