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:

  1. These exercises can be done pizzicato or arco.
  2. If done pizzicato, I suggest beginning each pattern using the second finger of your right hand, followed by the first (i.e. 2-1) and alternating without exception.
  3. If done arco, I suggest you experiment with different bowings as you become comfortable with the left hand challenges.
  4. If done on electric bass, you should substitute third finger (3) for fourth finger (4) below, and expand the patterns to include all the left hand finger combinations available to you.

Two String Left Hand Dexterity Drill Keys to Success:

  1. Start very slowly, and gradually speed up the tempo
  2. Use a metronome to ensure a steady tempo and to help you mark your progress
  3. Use minimum pressure and minimum muscular effort
  4. Never “play through the pain.” If you get tense, stop.
  5. Gauge your progress in months, not days.

Note: Although they are written for the D and G strings, you should play these patterns on the E and A strings as well.


Two String Left Hand Dexterity Drill – Exercise 1

Two String Left Hand Dexterity Drill - Exercise 1

Two String Left Hand Dexterity Drill – Exercise 2

Two String Left Hand Dexterity Drill - Exercise 2

Dr. Donovan Stokes is on the faculty of Shenandoah University-Conservatory. Visit him online at www.donovanstokes.com and check out the Bass Coalition at www.basscoalition.com.

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  1. Good stuff, I need to do more of this. It’s quite similar to the Dave Holland stuff. Definitely a lot harder on the E and A strings!

  2. Am I to presume there is more to this exercise as you show measures 1 – 6 and then 16 – 19…because I would love more exercises like this. I’ve been TRYING to stay more focused when I play, but sometimes without a practice plan to follow I tend to stray and end up getting as sidetracked as a squirrel in a mixed nut cannery. :)

    • I do practise in 45 minute slots with 10/15 minute break in between. Do one thing only per slot, set an alarm, don’t check your phone etc etc. It really helps you stay focused and do up to 6 hours or more sometimes :)

    • Thanks for the tips, guys. Leave it to other bass players to understand where I’m coming from… those OTHER string instrument players just wouldn’t understand :)
      Seriously though I truly appreciate any advice that helps me keep moving in the right direction.