Speed Basics

author: JeremyKing date: 09/15/2009 category: for beginners
rating: 7.3 / votes: 11 
Speed is an issue for many bass players and an aspect of playing that almost every musician seeks. I'm going to be teaching how to build up speed and maintain it. Let's start with the right hand(plucking hand for left hand players) The right hand is the main focus of most bass players that mainly play simpler music. It's also important for speed players that focus on one string notes(i.e. Slayer). It's relatively simple to build up speed. It mainly requires boneheaded repitition and patience. Start of with an open E note. Set a metronome to a speed were you can play evenly and comfortably. Play the open E evenly 4 notes per beat for 16 beats total. This may seem boring, but it's worth it in the end. Do this at the highest tempo you can do it comfortably at. Gradually move the tempo higher and higher. Eventually, you'll stumble across a tempo you can't play it consistetly at. When this happens, repeat it over and over until you can. Then stop and take a VERY short break. Try to play at the exact same speed. You'll be surprised at how much easier it is. Repeat that with different notes and different strings. You may find it easier to play consistently on one string than another. This just means you need more practice on the other strings. Now for the right hand. This one is a bit more complex to build speed with because there is so much that can be done with the right hand alone. But it's a lot more fun than the right hand. We'll start off with hammer-ons and pull-offs. Start off playing a simple chromatic pattern, hammering on every note on each string.
G|----------------|--------1-2-3-4-|
D|----------------|1-2-3-4---------|
A|--------1-2-3-4-|----------------|
E|1-2-3-4---------|----------------|
As you hammer on each note, make sure the volume and tone are the same for each note. Do the same thing you did with the right hand, gradually increasing speed. Next, try playing the minor scale, hammering on all the notes.
G|----------------|--1-3-5---------|
D|------------1-3-|5---------------|
A|------1-3-4-----|----------------|
E|1-3-4-----------|----------------|
As you'll notice, the scale wont end right on the beat of the metronome. It ends right before it. So for the next beat, go back to the first fret and repeat the process. Try this with the major, pentatonic, and add on any other scales/patterns you wish. Now let's start with pull-offs. You'll probably discover that you can play slightly faster with pull-offs than with hammer-ons. But don't get ahead of yourself. Make sure every note is played on time, correctly, and with a good volume and tone. To shorten this lesson for ease of people who don't enjoy reading, I'll simply say, take the patterns you used for hammer-ons and make them descend instead of ascend. Now, let's incorporate the right hand. This will be the hardest part for most people. After you've covered the basics of the right and left hand, you have to synchronize them. This is the main reason most speed players stay on one string music. This will be far easier said than done. Play the patterns that you used for the hammerons and pull-offs and instead of hammering on or pulling off the notes, play each one of them with the right and left hand. This will take some pratice, but it is well worth it in the end. A few tips before I end the lesson... 1. When practicing with the left hand, keep your fingers as close to the fretboard as possible. This will decrease the time your fingers have to spend traveling from their original position to the frets. 2. Learn songs you can't play because of speed issues. Through personal experience, I've learned that learning songs you can't play can seriously help your ability with speed or anything else. 3. Do not give up. It may seem tough and boring at times, but it is well worth it in the end. You won't notice that you're getting that much faster, but others will. That's about it. Thanks for reading and for everyone that posted comments on my last lesson, thanks for the feedback, bad and good.
More JeremyKing lessons:
+ How To Do Harsh Vocals: Scream, Growl, Squeal, Etc The Basics 07/14/2010
+ The Outside Sound Bass Lessons 08/31/2009
+ The 8 Positions Of The Minor Scale Bass Lessons 07/16/2009
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