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  • Trill Exercises for Bassists

    Trill Exercises for Bassists

    For better or worse, trills grab the listeners attention. If a trill is quick, clear and under the performer’s control it can generate excitement in the listener. If it is slow, clumsy and uncontrolled, however, it can have a most deleterious effect. To ensure trills are at our command, we should train our fingers to... »

  • Progressive Scales: A Bass Player’s Guide to Learning Scales and Improving Reading Ability

    Progressive Scales: A Bass Player’s Guide to Learning Scales and Improving Reading Ability

    I’ve written in the past about the importance of scale work to solidify instrumental technique (see the Lowdown archives for those columns and more). If we are new to learning a particular scale it is probably wise to start by playing from root to root (e.g. C-C in C major) until we are comfortable. This... »

  • Thumb Position Exercises for Bassists

    Thumb Position Exercises for Bassists

    “Thumb position” is a left hand technique in which the thumb is used on top of the board to press down the strings. In essence, we use it just as we use our other fingers. Although the technique can be used anywhere on the instrument, this technique is most often used at the midpoint of... »

  • Left Hand Dexterity Drills on Three and Four Strings

    Left Hand Dexterity Drills on Three and Four Strings

    After mastering the exercises on one and two strings, you will be ready to challenge yourself with some three-string exercise, like the ones below. Some Notes: These exercises can be done pizzicato or arco. If done pizzicato, I suggest beginning each pattern using the second finger of your right hand, followed by the first (i.e.... »

  • Left Hand Dexterity Drills on Two Strings

    Left Hand Dexterity Drills on Two Strings

    After you feel comfortable with the single string exercises from last time you may want to challenge yourself a bit more with the two string exercises below. Two String Left Hand Dexterity Drill Notes: These exercises can be done pizzicato or arco. If done pizzicato, I suggest beginning each pattern using the second finger of... »

  • Single Position Left Hand Dexterity Drills for Bassists

    Single Position Left Hand Dexterity Drills for Bassists

    Although scales, arpeggios and repertory are necessary for any musician’s development, etudes and exercises such as the ones below should also be part of any instrumentalist’s diet. Such exercises allow us to focus on a single aspect of technique. Single task left hand drills are essential if we desire to have true dexterity in the... »

  • Thumb Position: Major Scale Fingering for Bass

    Thumb Position: Major Scale Fingering for Bass

    There are a multitude of fingerings for any particular scale, and no single fingering is appropriate for every situation. In fact, the most effective fingering for any specific passage will be related to musical issues, not technical ones. Some scale fingerings, however, prove to be useful in a great many situations and are worth having... »

  • Strategies for Better Intonation

    Strategies for Better Intonation

    If you are an upright bassist, then intonation is on your mind. I’ve talked in the past about using drones to help solidify intonation, but this is just one of seemingly innumerable strategies to improve pitch. Today we’ll touch on a few other approaches. You can do all of these exercises with music you are... »

  • Bass Strings: Tips for Finding the Right Sound

    Bass Strings: Tips for Finding the Right Sound

    This week’s column comes thanks to a question from Maria G. Maria asks: I’m a pretty new player, but I’m not happy with my upright bass strings. I know I need something different, but there are so many different kinds of strings out there I don’t know where to start. They are also expensive (!)... »

  • Audition and Performance Preparation: Recording Yourself

    Audition and Performance Preparation: Recording Yourself

    One very enlightening way to prepare for an audition or performance is to record yourself prior stepping on the stage, or into the audition room. Expensive equipment is not required to gain benefit from recording yourself. Although better recording equipment means you can listen back in greater detail, the fact is that free recording software... »