Welcome the Noisegate Bass Lesson brought to you by Craig Strain from Bass Lessons Melbourne. In this month’s lesson we’re going to look at 2 warm-up exercises I prescribe to my students to help improve their left and right hand technique..
Ex.1 – The Spider
There are hundreds of ‘spider’ technique exercises out there, all based around the same ‘1 finger per fret’ concept. The version we are going to look at is from a John Patitucci lesson in his book ‘Electric Bass’ and is designed to improve strength, span and dexterity on the left hand. I took this idea and expanded it to include more right hand variation and give more of a well rounded workout that you can include at the beginning of your practice session to really get the blood flowing.
Important factors to consider with this exercise:
1. Do it at a SLOW tempo – when you get to those 16ths they need to be as smooth and consistent as the quarter notes.
2. Quality of tone – each not needs ring true and long, aim for ‘no daylight’ between the notes (epecially on those A-G string leaps!)
3. Efficient left AND right hand fingering – as the diagram states, your left should be doing a continuous 1-3-2-4, 3-1-4-2 pattern and be conscious of when to alternate and when to ‘rake’ with your right hand.
Ex.2 – Isometrics
This is one of my favourite exercises and has been part of my practice routine for nearly 15yrs. The term ‘Isometrics’ comes from the gym world and is generally used to describe static exercises like planks, wall sits etc; In the context of this warm-up it refers to the static status of 3 of your 4 left hand fingers. The idea is to only ever have 1 finger raised off the fingerboard at any time to really focus on strengthening not only the muscles and tendons in that finger, but also the neural connection to that digit. A lot of the issues players face with difficult passages of music or improvisation is that they get ‘finger-tied’ because the independence and control over each finger isn’t fully developed. This exercise will help galvanise that brain to finger command route and enable a more fluid, accurate left hand technique.
Important factors to consider for this exercise:
1. Do it at a SLOW tempo – make sure your fingers are staying in position and that only one finger is raised at a time.
2. Try to make your hammer ons as loud as your plucked notes, this is what is going to increase strength in your fingers.
3. If it hurts STOP! There will inevitably be a little bit of aching or burning with these kinds of exercises, but any kind of shooting pain is a red flag and you should stop and relax your hand.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this lesson on warmups that work, any questions contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be back after Christmas with another lesson!
See you next time!
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