Talking Technique: Jumps Without Looking at the Fretboard

Now that your fingers are getting in shape from the first two lessons, but how do you tackle making large interval leaps on the fly? Accurate shifting is an equally important skill to mastering technique.

Upright bass players work meticulously on shifting to be as accurate as possible. We’ll borrow a few pointers from them as well as dive into the Note Finder Exercise, which helps you learn your fretboard while working on large leaps.

After this lesson, you’ll be able to find the right notes with your eyes closed.

Austrian-gone-Californian Ariane Cap is a bassist, educator, blogger and author. In her book Music Theory for the Bass Player and corresponding 20-week online course, she teaches music theory, bass technique, bass line creation and fretboard fitness in a systematic, practical and experiential way. She just released a brand new course on ear training for the bass player: Ear Confidence - 6 Paths to Fearless Ears. Contact her via her blog or website.

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  1. Thanks so much, Ariane! This was the perfect exercise for what I was looking at, especially with mapping these sort of spatial relationships without using one’s eyes. Hopefully I can post a video or two of me playing through some of the tough workouts utilizing these techniques soon.

    Also, the comment about where the music stand should be was excellent. I never realized that I had been doing it for a long time the wrong way, but more recently I shifted my position so I could glance down if necessary. Soon I won’t have to! Thanks again!

  2. Rodney Spiers

    Another great lesson, thank you Ari. I will be using this technique with my students if that is ok with you.

  3. Amr

    u r so cool..easy lang u speak and great lesson too

  4. Dave Dickens

    Ariane, one of the many things I like about your teaching style is the conversational approach you use, whether in a recorded or a live format. This non-intimidating approach allows me to relax and completely concentrate on learning instead of hiding behind the wall my own mind builds that keeps me worrying about where I am on my journey and what you think about it.

    The mark of a good instructor is one who walks with the student instead of one who stands way down the road yelling back for the student to hurry and catch up. Whether in the live lessons I’ve taken with you, watching recorded lessons like this one or on Truefire, working with your wonderful book, or just practicing/noodling by myself, I can feel you walking along side me as I make mistakes or as I do things correctly and all the while my mind feels you sending me positive energy.

    That’s a rare gift that I’ve only seen in a handful of instructors, and those few instructors are the ones who make all the difference. Thank you. ?

  5. mojobass

    Way to go,Ariane…Your teaching style always brings a smile to face! Great tips and strategies?

  6. Mark S B.

    Miss Cap if I’m not looking at my fret-board I’m looking at you , so now you have me all messed up but in good time I will get this down. Do you actually feel for the fret while not looking.
    Its been a year that I began bass, so you might know where I’m at , thank you.

  7. great lesson to beginners!

    p.s.: nice pic, ariane.

    • Mark S B.

      Depending on what I’m playing and I play songs not scales , I can go straight to it after playing any given song many times. Permutations has me working hard but it pays off in the end , sort of like walking on the treadmill, it makes my fingers stronger, coordinated and not finger twisted like I was last year. Just like I thought it was my bass making fret buzz when it was my dexterity not strong enough. I feel like a manchild learning bass but next year this time will be much better and the year after and the year after that.

    • Mark S B.

      Thank you I will follow thru
      But the thrill I’v never known
      Is the thrill that’ll getcha
      When you get your picture
      On the cover of the Rollin’ Stone

  8. fau77b

    This lesson is so helpful!
    Your exercises have become default anytime I pick up the bass.
    The relationship between the same note (and octave) in different points of the fretboard is very handy, and recently I have found out that it gives me also a way to find a range of notes around that fret.
    For example if I jump from G (3rd fret on E string) to G (10th fret on A string), not only I will find the G one octave higher, but I can use the same jump to get to a D (10th fret on E) or a C (10th fret on D string), lots of more notes suddenly available..
    That means that I can jump without looking through same notes along the fretboard, but also navigating through different ones.
    And also, if I jump through same notes along the fretboard, starting from G (3rd fret on E string), if I aim to the next G available on the A string using my index finger, I will have an A available on my ring finger (12th fret on A string), D (12th fret on D), an E (12th fret on E string) and so forth.
    Thank you so much Ariane this lesson has definitely opened a new chapter in my (humble) understanding and playing bass guitar!

    Sorry for the long and convoluted post but that’s the best I could explain it.
    Perhaps these things are obvious for many, but it’s a milestone for me.

  9. Thanks Ari, the tip about placement of the music stand in relation to the bass is something I’d never run across and it makes perfect sense.