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The Mysterious Bass

by Yule Xie

When we hear the word “orchestra”, we likely think about the violin, or the cello, simply because of the large number of classical pieces that are written for those instruments. However, an instrument that is very underrated, in my opinion, is the bass.


Based on my experience as a violinist in orchestra, I know that the bass has the lowest sound. Just like the violin, the bass also has four strings. However, after trying out the bass last week, I learned that the bass’s strings are in the opposite order as the violin. That is, the violin strings are G, D, A, and E, while the bass strings are E, A, D, and G. If you have been to an orchestra, you will also see the massive size of the bass compared to the other instruments. Additionally, its size means that it also has the longest strings. 


It is also interesting that the bass can be played in a variety of musical ensembles. I have seen the bass as an instrument in orchestra, full orchestra, as well as jazz band. Although usually the bass doesn’t have the melody, you can always hear its nice, deep sound.


Bass Bows

Since the bass is such a large instrument, the bows are also quite different. According to SimplyforStrings, there are two types of bass bows, German style and French style. The article interesting states that, while bass bows are shorter than cello bows, they are heavier and have different rosin (SimplyforStrings). I know that the bass rosin is much more sticky because they are always stored in containers.



Tuning the Bass

Just like tuning other instruments in an orchestra, tuning the bass also requires you to turn the turning peg, which changes the tension in the string and the sound.

However, you need to be extra careful when tuning a bass because you do not want to break the strings. Since the bass is much bigger, it would be worse if a string snaps.



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