How to Warm-Up on the Bass Guitar with Right-Hand String Crossing

The final stage of the right-hand warm-up for the bass guitar is called string crossing. How do you cross the strings? It's really, very straightforward. Just remember the following rules:

  • Alternate the middle and index fingers of your right hand when you're striking the same string.

  • Alternate your middle and index fingers when you're crossing from a lower to a higher string (that is, the lower to the higher string in terms of pitch). The lower string is closer to your head, and the higher string is closer to your feet. You also can think of it as crossing from the thicker to the thinner string.

  • Rake with the same finger when you're crossing from a higher to a lower string. (Raking means striking a string with one finger and then letting it follow through, striking the next lower string with the same finger.) Again, keep in mind that going from high to low means going from the thinner string to the thicker string.

Take a look at your alternating fingers when you're crossing from a lower to a higher string to make sure you're doing it right. Remember that the lower string is the one on top (nearest your head).

A regular four-string bass is tuned from low to high: E, A, D, and G. Try the following exercise, in that order, for right-hand coordination:

  1. Strike the E string with i.

  2. Strike the A string with m.

  3. Strike the D string with i.

  4. Strike the G string with m.

Now strike the G string again, this time with i (alternating on the same string), and rake it all the way across the D, A, and E strings. Keep the rhythm and volume even by making sure your fingers strike the strings evenly.

After you play the E string with i, continue with the second half of the exercise:

  1. Strike the E string with m.

  2. Strike the A string with i.

  3. Strike the D string with m.

  4. Strike the G string with i.

Now strike the G string again with m (alternating on the same string), and rake it all the way across the D, A, and E strings. Again, keep the rhythm and volume even in both directions by making sure your fingers strike the strings evenly.

Listen to the exercise on Track 5. You won't hear a difference in the sound of the strings as the fingers alternate. Listen to the evenness of the volume of the notes and to the timing between the notes. The timing is identical whether you're going up or down on the strings.

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