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  • Left Hand Technique: Pivoting

    Left Hand Technique: Pivoting

    Although I advocate a traditional left hand foundation (i.e. 1-2-4 fingering system), any bassist who plays long enough will come across passages that don’t lie well using this fingering system. “Pivoting” can be an attractive solution for such passages. Often, especially when playing two consecutive notes on the same string more than a step apart... »

  • Starting Your Day with Open Strings: A Warmup Routine for Bassists

    Starting Your Day with Open Strings: A Warmup Routine for Bassists

    Many people simply pick up their instrument and start playing without any warm-up. While there is value to this approach, I generally advise a gradual warm-up for students. Although slow scales can often serve as a warmup, even a slow scale can be quite complex technically. After all, it involves tone production, shifting, light left... »

  • Musical Growth: Thought Process, Practice and Dedication

    Musical Growth: Thought Process, Practice and Dedication

    Over the years, I have had the opportunity to hear expressed all manner of explanation as to why someone is not progressing as they wish. Although every situation and individual is unique, some common “explanations” are the result of fallacious thinking. For those who wish to be serious in their study, the two ideas below... »

  • Improving your Technique: Habits and Awareness for Bass Players

    Improving your Technique: Habits and Awareness for Bass Players

    Most bassists are looking to improve some aspect of their technique. Certainly if there is something in our technique that is creating a problem, physical or musical, then we need to make a change. Sometimes this is a major change, other times this is simply a refinement. Oftentimes, it is the acquisition of technique that... »

  • Artificial Harmonics: The Basics

    Artificial Harmonics: The Basics

    In the last several columns we have talked about harmonics using open strings. These are often referred to as “natural” harmonics. If we play harmonics on a string while fully stopping the string somewhere else, (for example, if we press down an A on our G string and then play a harmonic above that) these... »

  • Bass Harmonics: Middle of the String Harmonics

    Bass Harmonics: Middle of the String Harmonics

    We’ve found where the most common harmonics are at the end of the fingerboard, and also toward the nut. Today, let’s find the most common harmonics in the middle part of the string. In the examples below, the lower staff tells us where to put place our fingers and find the harmonic. The upper staff... »

  • Lower Position Harmonics

    Lower Position Harmonics

    Last time we found some of the most common harmonics as they are played at the end of the fingerboard. Since the placement of harmonics on the string “mirror” themselves from the mid point (i.e. you find the same notes toward the nut as you do toward the bridge) we can find the harmonics from... »

  • Expanded Harmonics: More on Locations and Patterns

    Expanded Harmonics: More on Locations and Patterns

    Last time we talked about how to find out where harmonics occur on a string by dividing the string into equal parts. Below you will find a more straightforward representation of the specific harmonics that can be found at the end of the fingerboard on each string. We will be placing the thumb on the... »

  • Harmonics: A Starter Guide for Bassists

    Harmonics: A Starter Guide for Bassists

    Whatever the genre, we bassists seem to love harmonics. From Jaco to Dittersdorf, bass music is full of them. When we are introduced to playing harmonics however, the prospect can be a bit tricky. At first, we may be unsure where the harmonics are on the string, or what note will sound when we attempt... »

  • Left Hand Flexibility for Bassists

    Left Hand Flexibility for Bassists

    When playing the bass, flexibility is far more important than strength. In fact, if body mechanics and gravity are used intelligently it takes surprisingly little strength to play our instrument. Flexibility, however, is paramount to many of the things we must do well. In the left hand (or fingering hand for the lefties!) it is... »