Double Bass Survival Guide By David Gage
Parts of the Instrument
by David Gage
David Gage String Instruments
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Copyright © 2008 D’Addario & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. D’Addario, Prelude, and Helicore are trademarks of
D’Addario & Company, Inc. or its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries.
Caring for your Instrument & Bow
Installing & Tuning Strings
• When resting your instrument, lay it on its side with the bridge
facing the wall.
1) You will need replacement strings, a sharp pencil and a tuner.
2) Loosen and replace one string at a time. Removing all of the strings
together could cause the sound post to shift or fall.
• Maintain the instrument at minimum 40% humidity
by using a humidifier. Store the instrument in the
case to maximize the humidifier’s effect.
1) Lay the instrument carefully on its back.
2) Loosen the string by moving the tuner handle
clockwise. A string winder can aid in this process.
3) Pull the end of the string from the string roller hole
and remove the ball end from the tailpiece.
3) Insert the string through the string
roller leaving about 3" sticking out.
Twist this 3" end once around the
string at the opposite side of
4) Using a winder, turn the handle counterclockwise
to tighten the string. As you tighten, allow the string
to cross over itself to prevent slippage. Do not pinch
the string against the peg box wall.
• Avoid handling the bow hair directly with your fingers.
• Tighten the bow hair by turning the metal screw clockwise.
• Electronic tuner – Best for beginners as it works
for each individual string.
• A440 tuning fork – Good for advanced players
to tune the A string and then tune the rest of
the strings by matching harmonics.
• The bow hair should be tight enough so that it does not touch
the stick when played but still maintains a gentle curve
towards the hair.
• When not in use, loosen the bow
until the hair touches the stick.
Helicore Pizzicato – Crafted specifically for
pizzicato technique. Brighter tone, maximum
sustain, crisp attack and “growl” for plucking.
Helicore Hybrid – Ideal for a mix of both arco
and pizzicato performance. Good bow response
with excellent sustain and attack.
5) Tune the new string up to full pitch before replacing
the next string.
Bow Care & Rosin
Helicore Orchestral – Designed for arco playing.
Warm tone, exceptional bow response, and even
balance. Excellent blend in ensemble settings.
Available in fractional sizes.
Install the new string
2) Thread the string through the tailpiece, catching
the ball in the narrow slot.
Helicore Solo – Designed for orchestral soloist,
tuned to F#, B, E, A (lowest to highest). ‘Solo’
strings are appropriate when performing solo
literature calling for this “scordatura” tuning.
Prelude – Optimized design for developing bassists.
Clear, warm tone. An easily playable and economical
string set for students. Available in fractional sizes.
General notes about bass tuning:
• Bow hair should be replaced
at least once a year.
• Store rosin in a cool dry place.
1) Rub the tip of the pencil in the empty string grooves
of the nut and bridge.
• Always use a quality padded case with well stitched handles.
• Apply rosin by pulling the bow hair
across the rosin cake 6 to 8 times
using complete, long strokes.
Bass playing encompasses many styles, each with different performance
requirements. Bass strings are often crafted using a stranded steel core
for flexibility and response. Design variations create strings suitable to
all styles of performance:
Remove the old string
• Have your bass inspected at least once a year
by a qualified technician. Repair any cracks as
soon as possible.
• When traveling, always keep the bass on its back
or side. Place foam or a pillow where the neck
meets the body to keep the neck/scroll suspended.
Selecting the Proper String
• Bass strings are usually tuned in fourths –
E, A, D, G (lowest to highest).
• When tuning using the machine handle,
and Tuning Fork
adjust slowly up to the proper note, listening
to the pitch change while plucking the string.
• Be careful not to over tighten string above correct
pitch as this can damage the strings.
• After playing for a few minutes, check and adjust the tuning.
String deterioration occurs as a result of both normal use and corrosion. Any string’s tone
will naturally degrade over time and also may eventually break. Strings should be replaced
regularly rather than waiting for them to break.