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Arpeggio Work for Bass Players: A Daily Practice Routine

I have mentioned previously that our daily scale practice should include arpeggio work. There are numerous ways to approach this, and most scale books devote some time to various approaches to arpeggios. I find the patterns below to be good solid foundational patterns for any bassist’s daily routine.

  1. The patterns below are presented in C major, but should be applied to each major and minor scale/arpeggio
  2. They are given in three octaves, but should be adjusted to your current technical level (e.g. played in 1 or 2 octaves only)
  3. There are any variety of fingerings that can be applied to these patterns. However, I suggest that you play, at a minimum, two notes in a position before shifting.
  4. Whatever fingering you decide upon, keep it consistent so that you obtain maximum benefit from your practice.
  5. Keep it slow. Only work the tempo up, (slowly!) after you are comfortable with the patterns.
  6. Repetition is key.

Arpeggio Work for Bass – Exercise #1:

Arpeggio Work for Bass - Exercise #1

Arpeggio Work for Bass – Exercise #2:

Arpeggio Work for Bass - Exercise #2

Arpeggio Work for Bass – Exercise #3:

Arpeggio Work for Bass - Exercise #3

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

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Share your thoughts

    Frans Rikkers

    Frans Rikkers

    Learn To read music. It is really not that hard. Tabs is not the way. I have a friend who started to read music after more than 40 years of bass playing!! He feels there is a new world opened up for him. So take my advice and learn to read music. Have fun!!

      Victor Hering

      Victor Hering

      I see the point on being comfortable with music notation in order to call yourself a musician. But as long as my only bass at home is a 4 strings 20 frets jazz bass, I’m disappointed that I can’t go on the third octave…I wonder if a double bass as a bigger range than mine.

      Juan Soto-Bown

      D# (major) arpeggio would be D# – Fx (double sharp) – A#. B major arpeggio 1st inversion is D# – F# – B. So 2 of the notes are different. For the time being, learn the arpeggios in root position (Starting from the name of the arpeggio). Once you get comfortable with the way they move, start visualizing the inversions.

Brandyn James

For those that can’t read notation:

For bass clef the bottom line is a G; count up from there.

For treble clef the bottom line is E; the spaces beginning with the space above E spell FACE going up the stave.

Adam Courchesne

Hmmm… If I read this correctly, there’s 5 octaves of C spanning the base and treble clefs in this exercise. Yet on my bass I only have 4. Am I missing something?