String Skipping Arpeggios – Another 6-String Bass Exercise – Bass Practice Diary – 18th May 2021
This is another 6-string bass exercise featuring string skipping. The last one involved playing scales and skipping strings after every three notes. This one is a bit more difficult. It involves playing arpeggios and string skipping on every note. I first came across this exercise years ago when I saw it featured on an instructional video by the great guitarist Frank Gambale. It’s a tricky exercise to play on guitar or bass, but it sounds great. When I was thinking of ways to take my string skipping on bass to another level, I remembered this exercise and I set about trying to adapt it onto 6-string bass.
I’ve played the exercise in the key of A minor, which is the same key Frank Gambale plays it in. The exercise uses notes from the A harmonic minor scale arranged into three arpeggios. Chord I, A minor, chord IV, D minor and chord V, E. The A minor arpeggio is played as a triad using just the notes A, C and E. But the IV chord includes the note B on a D minor chord, which makes it Dm6. The V chord is really E7, but the exercise only features the notes of the major triad, E, G# & B. It’s played like this.
Two Hand Tapping Exercise for Bass Guitar – Tapping Triads – Bass Practice Diary – 3rd November 2020
Last week I featured a two-hand tapping bass groove that I wrote on bass guitar. This week I’m starting a series of lessons in which I break down the fundamentals of my tapping techniques. The most basic tapping technique is the ability to perform hammer-ons and pull-offs with both your left and right hand. If you’d like some left hand hammer on and pull off exercises, then check out this video. Today I’m going to focus on tapping with the right-hand index finger.
Tapping techniques work particularly well for playing arpeggios. Using both hands to generate notes means that you can play wider intervals very fast. That’s extremely hard to do if you’re fretting with the left-hand and plucking with the right-hand. It’s relatively easy to play the smaller intervals of scales fast, by using conventional plucking techniques. But tapping creates a huge advantage for playing the wider intervals of arpeggios fast.
The most basic arpeggio type is a triad, a three note chord. There are four main types of triad: major, minor, diminished and augmented. This exercise simply goes through each one in a sequence.
The reason that the sequence is in this order is because I’m starting with the smallest intervals (two minor 3rds), which is a diminished arpeggio. And I’m moving up to the largest intervals (two major 3rds) which is the augmented triad. In the video I then play the exercise in reverse order going from largest intervals to smallest.
Should You Use Compression When Tapping?
I touched on the subject of compression very briefly in the video. Dynamic Range Compression is an audio effect that effectively squashes the dynamics in your playing. It makes the loud notes quieter and the quiet notes louder to even out the dynamics and make everything the same level. You can play bass through a compression pedal, there are many on the market. Or you can add compression to a recording of your bass in a DAW like Pro Tools or Logic.
There is an obvious advantage and an obvious disadvantage to using compression when tapping. The advantage is, that if your hammer ons are louder than your pull offs, or your right hand notes are quieter than your left hand notes, then the compression will compensate and even out the sound.
The obvious disadvantage of using compression when you’re playing, is that it will amplify any unwanted noise. Any squeak from a string or rumble from an unmuted open string will be made louder. Personally, I never use compression when I’m playing, but I do sometimes add it to a recording when appropriate. It’s entirely up to the individual whether they use compression or not, but it is common to use compression for tapping techniques.
In this video lesson, I’ll teach you the best and most efficient techniques for your left hand on the bass. I’ll explain the one finger per fret technique and how you can extend the range even further by changing how you use your left hand index finger.
Use the most efficient left hand technique possible
For me practicing techniques is all about learning to play in the most efficient way possible. Whether I’m working on my left or right hand technique, I’m always trying to find the simplest way to play the notes that involves the least amount of movement in my hands. As far as I’m concerned all unnecessary movement slows me down.
One finger per fret
For my left hand I like to use the “one finger per fret” system. You can practise and master this technique by using the following exercise.
This is a very common exercise that bass players (and guitar players) have been using for decades. If you add the open strings to this exercise as shown in Example 2 then you can play the chromatic scale from the open E string to the B on the 4th fret of the G string without shifting position. Example 3 shows how to practice the “one finger per fret system” on a single string, and you can practice this way on each string individually. The benefit of this exercise is that it teaches us to shift positions up and down the neck whilst maintaining good technique in our left hand. You can alter this exercise by changing the order of the fingering. For example instead of playing 1st, 2nd, 3rd then 4th finger you could try 1st, 3rd, 2nd, 4th as in Example 4, or any other pattern you can come up with. Scales and arpeggios played using one finger per fret
Spend some time working on the above examples until you get used to the “one finger per fret” system. Once you get used to the system, use it to practice some scales and arpeggios. They’re great for mastering left hand techniques. The following examples are just a few scales and arpeggios you can use.
Take your left hand technique a step further
If you want to take your left hand technique a step further then there is another thing you can do. As you get further up the neck of the bass the frets get closer together. Which means that the stretches needed to play “one finger per fret” get smaller.
It occurred to me that I shouldn’t restrict myself to “one finger per fret” in areas of the fingerboard where my finger span could be much greater than 4 frets. So when I get above the 5th fret of the bass I use my 1st finger to cover 2 different frets while my 2nd, 3rd & 4th fingers still play “one finger per fret”. This allows me to cover 5 frets in a single position. Which gives me access to the entire chromatic scale without having to change position.
Example 9 demonstrates how I play a Eb major scale starting on the 6th fret of the A string. In this case my 1st finger can play the 6th or 7th frets. My 2nd finger plays the 8th fret, my 3rd finger the 9th fret and my 4th finger the 10th fret.