Right-Hand, Same-String Bass Guitar Warm-up Exercises

Before your hands will be strong enough to survive hours of bass guitar playing, you need to strengthen them with exercise. Knowing how to warm up using right-hand same-string strokes will give your right hand the strength it needs to become coordinated enough to perform complicated fingering techniques, or just endure long hours of bass playing. A few minutes a day with the proper exercises go a long way.

The right-hand same-stroke exercise is designed to help you during those times when you play notes on the same string. To do this, you'll need to be able to alternate between your index and middle fingers, so you can play notes in rapid succession and with an even tone.

  1. Start by properly positioning your right hand on the bass.

  2. Using the index finger or middle finger of your right hand, strike the lowest string.

    Alternate between your index and middle fingers (striking the string with one finger at a time) and keep the sound even.

  3. Pull your fingertips across the string.

    Your angle of attack (your strike) should be into the instrument, making the tone full and round. This technique gives you an authoritative sound, which is exactly what you want as a bass player.

    The proper angle of attack for a right-hand strike.
    The proper angle of attack for a right-hand strike.

Don’t lift your fingers and slap the string, you'll create a lot of unwanted fret noise. Don’t pluck the string up (like a classical guitar player), or it'll vibrate over the pickup in a way that produces a very thin sound.

Listen to the sound produced when the player slaps the beat.

Now listen to the sound when the player uses an incorrect classical guitar style plucking motion to play the beat.

Finally, listen to the beautiful tone produced by—you guessed it—the correct strike for eight beats.

Play evenly on each string, alternating between your index and middle fingers. As you play, you probably realize that your striking fingers are coming to rest on the next lowest string when you play the adjacent higher string. This technique is correct; it helps mute the strings that are not being played. When you play the lowest string (the E string), your fingers should come to rest against your thumb (which, of course, is firmly anchored, right?).

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