Stretching And Warm-Up Excercises

author: mtowenby date: 01/04/2010 category: guitar scales and modes
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I didn't see a stretch/warm-up specifically for bassists, so I thought I'd post what I do. My routine is a hybrid of various excercises I've found from different sources. I simply combined several of these for a routine that works great for me. First, before picking up my guitar, I stretch my fingers. I begin with a static palm-to-palm/finger-to-finger stretch, concentrating on resistance to the fingers. I hold this for about 30 seconds. Then, I lightly stretch each individual finger, palm up, providing resistance with the opposite hand's index finger, and supporting the knuckle (of the stretched finger) with the thumb of the opposite hand. Provide just enough pressure to feel a slight stretch and be careful not to overdo this one. From there, I grab my bass and begin working on the the striking hand. I play two-fingers, but this excercise could be modified for any style. I start on the open E string, playing 8th notes, alternating fingers, and work up to the G and back down. Then I repeat, but begin with a different finger. I concentrate on alternating fingers/rest stroke, and utilizing the "rake" on the way back down to the E string. Here's how it looks:
I'd recommend using a metronome and striving for clear, even notes. You can increase the tempo as you feel comfortable, ultimately striving for 16th notes, at a decent tempo, using alternate fingers, with even tones. There are several variations you can use to keep this interesting. Try accenting different notes in the pattern across the strings...or, change the pattern to 2 notes per string. Or, try working from the E string, to the D, down to the A, up to the G, and back down to E. Or, come up your own variations! Next, I move to a little more complicated version of moving chromatically up the fret board by using "finger permutations." You can begin on any fret, and it's great idea to vary your starting position. Here are the permutations:
1-2-3-4     2-1-3-4     3-1-2-4     4-1-2-3
1-2-4-3     2-1-4-3     3-1-4-2     4-1-3-2
1-3-2-4     2-3-1-4     3-2-1-4     4-2-1-3
1-3-4-2     2-3-4-1     3-2-4-1     4-2-3-1
1-4-2-3     2-4-1-3     3-4-1-2     4-3-1-2
1-4-3-2     2-4-3-1     3-4-2-1     4-3-2-1
For example, begin on the A of the E string (5th fret), and use one finger per fret. lay the first pattern (1-2-3-4) up to the G string, then back down to the E string. Again, utilize a metronome and start slowly. Remember to utilize alternating fingers on the right hand AND the rake while moving back down the strings. Strive to keep perfect time and for clear, even tones. Then, move on to the next pattern (1-2-4-3, etc.). Of course, there are many variations possible. Work toward a faster tempo. You can add accented notes anywhere in the pattern. Or, begin the pattern with a different striking finger. Or, once you begin to get these under your fingers, try playing only one note on the E string, and the remaining notes of the pattern on the A string, etc. One other thing...don't spend hours on these trying to master everything the first time out. You don't need to and you could injure yourself. Work through them each day for 10-15 minutes, and move on. As you become somewhat comfortable, add another challenge by increasing tempo, adding accents, etc. Or, try coming up with your own variations. Hope this helps!
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