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Sitting vs Standing to Play the Bass

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I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I was a strong proponent for sitting in my early years as a bassist up through college, but then later switched to standing. Most orchestral bassists sit, while most jazz bassists stand, but convention shouldn’t be the determining factor.  Setting aside convention, let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages to each. It doesn’t hurt to try both, but here are some things to consider

Henry Franklin plays sitting

Sitting:

Dave Holland plays standing

Standing:

Rufus Reid with Laborie outfitted bass

Trying to Make Standing Work

I’ve never been able to play with complete comfort on a conventional bass endpin while standing. I like the advantages, especially the improvement in the bass’ response so I looked at ways of making the bass more comfortable standing.

When I switched to standing, I had the basses converted/setup for the Laborie endpin. That made balancing the bass far easier and reduced the amount of weight on my hand. Not too many bassists outside of the orchestral/solo circuit use the Laborie setup. Rufus Reid is likely the most notable. The most basic setup will run about $250 to buy the endpin and have a luthier properly drill a hole to install it. Do NOT do this yourself without proper guidance, tools, and knowledge! If you don’t want to drill, you can spend a lot more and have the KC Strings block installed as I did on the German bass. Part of the logic for me is that I could convert the bass back if some day, I just didn’t want to stay with the Laborie. However to this day, I absolutely have to have it and have a similar setup for my other bass.

I’ve never tried an angled endpin (an endpin bent at an angle), but I’ve known some people who swear by it as a low cost alternative. This is another way to try it, but some people say that you lose some tone and the endpin tends make the bass feel like a pogo stick. It’s more of a transitional solution for those saving up for a Laborie or those just trying to get a feel without committing to it.

Angled Endpin (courtesy of Slava Music)

Conclusion

Never say never. I can’t say with absolute certainty that I’ll never go back to sitting while playing. Right now, I like the Laborie setup a lot which makes standing while playing a lot easier. It’s closest to the best of both worlds for me.

For some beginners that have been having difficulties with intonation and coordination, I actually have recommended that they start off sitting just to take a few variables out of the equation. It actually helped. Some stayed with sitting, while others moved to standing. It’s a personal preference call.

Whichever way you currently play, sitting or standing, I encourage you to experiment with both to see which works best for you.

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