A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Sitting vs standing

Background / Senseless prattle

For the first few weeks after I started practicing, I found that I was only able to move around the fretboard if I was seated while playing. I practiced my exercises and got to where I could play them without many mistakes, but if I stood up and played, it was like I was touching the neck for the first time.

The main issues were that I couldn’t see the frets or where my fingers were when not on a chair. Sitting made the bass rest partially against my thigh, which angled it so that the front faced a little more skyward. Standing lost this angle and made me rely on feel, which I don’t have yet.

I didn’t really know what to do about this other than to practice while standing. And you know what? It worked! About 15 years ago, a friend of mine (Hi PJ!) said to me that the sixth sense was sense of body. Its like how you can close your eyes and still know where your fingers are. I think that if you play enough, memorization and sense of body will teach your hands where the contours of the instrument are and where your fingers are along the neck, much like typing.

It took about a week before I was able to comfortably make it through a complete exercise while standing. I would do an exercise while sitting, and then stand and do it again. I remember going to my sister-in-law’s house for dinner one weekend and telling her husband (who plays guitar) that I had stood for the first time and played. Its probably nothing, but it felt like an accomplishment, and was as good a reason as any to have a beer. 😉

Just Google it!

So, anyway, curiosity made me Google “bass sitting vs standing”. Apparently, this is a big issue for a lot of players who are just starting out, and also for players who have taken primarily one position for most of their lives.

Here are some links that I found useful or interesting from that search:

I think I mentioned in an earlier post somewhere that Billy Sheehan has a video in which he recommends wearing the bass high enough that its in the same position whether you’re sitting or standing. Every one of the above threads has posts that recommend this as well. It seems to be a combination of placement and familiarity that affects playing from one position to the other.

Here’s a link to that Billy Sheehan video. They open the discussion with it, after about a 2 minute intro. Yes, his bass is fuschia.

Bass Lesson – Billy Sheehan (1/8)

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