This guide will connect you with the double bass resources you need. Getting started? Looking to get better faster? You’ll find what you need below! This is an evolving resource, so expect to see new material and recommendations over time.
Beginning Double Bass Resources
I’ve interviewed hundreds of renowned teachers from around the world. These are the resources that come up repeatedly. I use them in my own teaching and swear by them.
Step 1: Find a Double Bass Teacher
There’s never been a better time to start playing the double bass. We are living in the golden age of double bass teaching.
Be sure to ask your music teacher for a recommendation. Ask your local youth orchestra director. Figure out who the good teachers in your area are. It’s critical to find a good bass teacher, not just any old teacher.
The International Society of Bassists can help
You should also join the ISB. I’ve been a member for over 25 years, and it has helped me every step of my journey. Here’s an excerpt from my interview with ISB past president Douglas Mapp on all the benefits of joining the ISB.
You’re never too young to join!
Step 2: Rent a Double Bass
Your teacher will help with getting a bass. The ISB has a directory of where to look for basses, and I do as well, but be sure to ask your teacher where to go. Getting a double bass that’s the right size and that’s set up well is critical. Renting makes more sense than buying for young bassists because you will continue to grow. Buying a bass may be the right choice for an adult student, but it’s important to take your time and find a quality instrument.
What is a luthier?
A luthier makes and works on instruments. You can learn what makes for a good double bass set-up in my interviews with these double bass luthiers:
Step 3: Get these Books
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Progressive Repertoire by George Vance has become the gold standard for early double bassists. They combine the approaches of Shinichi Suzuki and François Rabbath brilliantly. Start with volume 1 and go from there!
Learn more about George Vance and how to use these books
- I’ve recorded videos of these pieces! Check them out here.
- I interviewed Nina DeCesare, who was George Vance’s student. We talked in great detail about what lessons with George were like and how he used these books. Highly recommended listening!
- When George Vance passed away, National Symphony bassist and Peabody Conservatory faculty member Ira Gold took over George’s studio. We talk about this experience in great detail.
- I spoke with Gaelen McCormick about how she uses these books in her teaching–it was a fascinating conversation.
Step 4: Get these Recordings
It amazes me how many students I work with that haven’t heard of Gary Karr or Edgar Meyer. Not to mention other double bass innovators like François Rabbath, Renaud Garcia Fons, Adam Ben Ezra, and jazz bass giants like Ray Brown and Charles Mingus. This list could easily go into the hundreds, but let’s start small.
Here are my top three essential double bass albums.
Step 5: Get these Important Additional Double Bass Tools
Bass players love to geek out on gear, and this list could easily be a mile long! These are the accessories I tell all my beginning students to get.
You need rosin or your bow won’t play! My favorite rosin is Pop’s, but many people use Kolstein rosin as well. Carlsson is a popular Swedish bass rosin. All of these rosins are fairly soft, which is what I like in a rosin.
Double bass endpins have a pesky way of slipping out from under you! You’ll need a rock stop to keep from slipping on tile floors and to prevent scuffing wood floors. There are a ton of rock stop options, but the one below is cheap and makes a good connection with the floor.
You’ll need two music stands: a sturdy one for home, and a portable one for playing outside of the house. My parents bought me a Manhasset music stand when I was starting out, and it still works nearly 30 years later.
My friend Brian Johnson has a great app called Learn Double Bass. Brian plays in the Los Angeles Philharmonic and is great at explaining everything the beginner bassist needs to know. This is a must-have for any beginning bassist.
I also have an app with all podcast episodes, a 10-part video series on playing the bass, scale sheets, and more.
Piano Parts for the Vance Books
You’ll need this music within the first couple months of playing the bass. Don’t rely on your teacher to have this music! I can’t tell you how many copies I’ve loaned out and lost over the years. Pick up an accompaniment copy when you move to the next volume of Vance.
Summer Camps and Bass Events
It’s never too early to start attending double bass events! I have a big list of summer camps, and the ISB has a great page that lists double bass events worldwide.
Start going to these events ASAP. The bass community is awesome, and it’ll be some of the most fun you’ll ever have.
Intermediate Double Bass Resources
These are the materials that I begin to add in as I work with my students through the Progressive Repertoire sequence. Every student is different, but this is what I typically recommend.
I add books by both Simandl and Rabbath to complement the George Vance Progressive Repertoire sequence. Simandl is helpful for learning the traditional half-step position sequence, and the Rabbath books are great for musical and technical development.
I also add in Vance’s Vade Mecum scale book plus some double bass duets. It’s never too early to start playing duets! David Heyes , Tony Osborne, Bernard Salles, and Simón García also write wonderful solos, duets, and quartets for bassists of all ages. Head over to recitalmusic.net and browse their many offerings.
Students Interested in Classical Music
Students Interested in Jazz and Other Styles of Music
Rufus Reid set the standard with his amazing book The Evolving Bassist. I’m also a big fan of Danny Ziemann’s bass line series The Low Down. It’s clear and concise, and it’s a great way to get going with learning jazz bass lines.
Five More Recordings to Get
This list could be a mile long! Here are five more recordings to add to your steadily growing library.
Upgrading your Double Bass Strings
Sooner or later, you’re going to want to start exploring the world of double bass strings. This step can be overwhelming for many. I’ve put together a guide that will help you with this important topic.
Advanced Double Bass Resources
I use these resources with students auditioning for music school. I’ve used these with college-level students during my time at DePaul University at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater as well as with my private studio. These are the “big guns” for double bass technique and repertoire. I love this stuff!
These are the materials that are referenced most on the podcast. They’re the resources that I keep coming back to in my own practicing.
The following titles are available through Robertson & Sons. Visit the link and download their order form or give them a call. They are my “desert island” technique materials for advanced students.
Also, these books should be on every bassist’s bookshelf:
Jazz Technique Books
Online Resources for the Double Bass
- Diana Gannett has an incredibly comprehensive website devoted to practicing. This should be a required bookmark in every bassist’s browser.
- Geoff Chalmers has an excellent series of courses for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students at discoverdoublebass.com
- Michael Klinghoffer has an excellent set of videos covering bass and bow fundamentals
- OrchestraExcerpts.com is a great resource for bassists
Resources to Change Your Life
Books that will Change Your Life
I’m a big believer in the power of books. The right book can elevate your thinking and change the trajectory of your entire life. Here are a few titles to get your mental gears going. None of them are specifically related to music, but they may shift your thinking about careers, happiness, and goals. All of them have had a big impact on me.
Podcasts that Will Change Your Life
I’m a podcast junkie and I have my own podcast, so it’s really hard to keep this list short! Here are a few of my podcasts that may actually change your life (because of the guest, not because of me!) and one from Tim Ferriss that will blow your mind.
Let me know what else should be on this list!
Send me an email and let me know what else should be on this list.
These are recommendations based on my hundreds of interviews with leading double bassists plus my experiences as a teacher and performer. My thinking is always changing on these topics, so expect this page to evolve over time.
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