Franz Simandl was perhaps the greatest pedagogue of the double bass. He revolutionized the approach to the instrument and his method is used by players that fill the greatest orchestras of Europe and beyond.
At the centre of his approach was a simple and elegant idea: let’s make this instrument as easy to play as possible. To this end, he chose to focus on a revolutionary hand position. Rather than playing one note per finger yielding four notes per position, Simandl opted for playing just three notes in a given position.
Rather than making the playing of notes slower, the increased strength and power had two remarkable effects, the precision and the speed of players increased. By focussing on technique that made the bass easier to play, Simandl unlocked for double bassists new levels of mastery with their instrument.
The left-hand technique of this method can be applied to bass guitar.
- Play only three notes per position
- These three notes (each just one fret apart) are played 1st finger, 2nd finger, 3rd+4th finger
- The 3rd and 4th finger always play together (with no space between them). They act as one unit.
To get up close and personal with the Simandl Method, I recommend you check out his book — it’s written for our contrabass cousins, but with some careful work and analysis there are many jewels here.
The Simandl Method can bring new levels of ease to your playing, empowering even the small-handed bassist, and can easily be combined with the four-notes-per-position approach. Though it may be easier to learn one approach and then the other, ultimately, you can choose the one that works best for you or you can use them interchangeably.