Left Hand Dexterity Drills on Three and Four Strings

Single Position Left Hand Dexterity Drills for Bassists

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. 2-1) and alternating without exception.
  • If done arco, I suggest you experiment with different bowings as you become comfortable with the left hand challenges.
  • 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.
  • Expand these out and come up with your own challenges

Some Keys to Success:

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


Drill on 3 strings:

Left Hand Dexterity Drill on Three Strings - for bassists

Drill on 4 strings:

Note: Many people find this more challenging as a result of the stationary first finger.

Left Hand Dexterity Drill on Four Strings - for bassists

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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Share your thoughts

  1. Oh BOY! More newness! Very cool AND more challenging. Thank you AGAIN!

  2. What about starting these exercises higher on the neck for less stress? Then move it down as you progress? Good for intonation practice too.