Alright I think you all are getting the idea, blah blah modern bass sucks, anyway, this week we’re talking about Practice and Exercise. What you can do in your practice sessions to improve your freedom of play, your ability to convert whats in your brain onto the strings. I’ll admit this one is largely stolen, i did not come up with these exercises, these are just a compilation of some of the best exercises i’ve found. First thing is something I heard Alex Webster say, “stop if it starts to hurt”, playing is not a No Pain, No Gain situation. You can damage your flexibility and muscle strength extremely easily by doing this. Note: If you are getting pain during long practice sessions you most likely need to work on your technique or posture.
This is by far the most important thing i’ve found, USE A METRONOME, if you don’t you’re an idiot, practice everything to a metronome, forever, get used to it, making it your friend, develop Stockholm Syndrome with it. You will hate it but learn to love it.
Next place to start would be Groove, the thing i’ve been complaining about the most. Now this exercise has been taken from Victor Wooten‘s DVD Groove Workshop, by far the best lessons i’ve ever learnt were from this DVD, but the “Rhythm Yard Stick” is an incredibly helpful exercises, shows you right where to find the groove. Here is Victor and Anthony Wellington explaining it.
Next lets look at your pitch use next, you need the freedom to move anywhere on your fretboard the song takes you, but linking up the different octaves of the scale is extremely hard, however this Billy Sheehan exercise helps you in making the fretboard “Yo Bitch”. Excuse the hair. I found he explains it rather poorly so i included this other dude because he simplifies the explanation.
Consistency and Dynamics are some of the most underrated and under practiced elements of bass and are arguably some of the most important, you need to be able to have all notes level, at all times. Your sound engineer wether live or in the studio will thank you for practicing this, you should also thank yourself as getting this to an art form will prevent the engineer from having to compress your tone to a fuzzy warble to disguise your inconsistencies.
Speed, not the highest priority but it is something you definitely need to have in mind and practice or like everything you become stagnant and start going backwards… You don’t need to utilise this guys right hand technique to reap the benefits of this exercise, this is interchangeable with pick, 2 finger, slap, double thumb, or either 3 finger technique.
Next up would have to be one of my practice favourites, Dexterity, not because it’s easy but because i get a sense of masochistic delight out of punishing myself with this exercise. This is supposed to allow free independent movement of all fingers, there are a few stages to this, tabs included below. If you are having trouble with the stretches, don’t strain yourself start higher on the fretboard and work your way down.
E-1-2-3—1-2—–1—————| Repeat pattern across all strings
E-4-3-2—-4-3——4—————| Repeat pattern across all strings
Finally if you are going to play live, Cardio, seriously you don’t want to burn out before your set does. Practice is great but if you cant last long enough to translate all that hard work to an audience whats the point. Walk/Jog/Run/Jumping Jacks/High Knee’s all of these are excellent cardio workout’s and will help you not get puffed when you’re rocking out because all jokes aside the beneath is so very true…
These are just a few of the exercises i work on regularly to help me extend myself, this is not me telling you how to do it, this is “Just a MUTHAFUCKING INVITATION” to try somethings that work for me, extend on them, change them, adapt them to your playing, and help me out by commenting below or on facebook, show me your exercises, i want to learn as well.
I once saw a John Petrucci meme that said, along the lines of “Well if you want to be great, it’s easy, learn some scales, learn some techniques and practice 4 hours a day” i don’t know if he actually said that but it’s true. Dedication is the only thing that will make you better, but i hoe this at east helps speed the process up.
The Cheat Sheets of Bass Pt. 3: Practice and Exercise
A Fat, bloated alcoholic, with a taste for high quality cheap scotch. The spawn of Jack Daniels, Fat Mike and Misanthropy. Living life on the road with a bag full of baked beans and a bottle full of bourbon, playing bass through blurry vision.