In this bass lesson, an email subscriber asked me “how can I play bass faster?”.
This is quite a broad topic but despite this, I’ve put some of my favourite tips for developing finger speed into this video.
The first important factor for a faster bass technique is relaxing your hands and body as much as possible. The more muscle tension we carry when we play, the harder it is for us to relax and the way that tension has a negative impact on our ability to play quickly is that the more tension we have in our bodies, the less muscle power we have available for playing the bass.
Players like Billy Sheehan are a great example of what can be achieved if you relax. His fingers move freely and fluidly on both hands.
Another thing Billy does really well is he plays with a light touch. A lighter touch requires less force in your plucking hand and a by product of a lighter touch is less tension. So this is another way to get a little more speed out of your technique and again this is used by a lot of guys like Tony Grey, Hadrien Feraud, Victor Wooten and Matt Garrison to name a few. So it’s a tried and tested approach for enhancing speed.
The second tip in this lesson is to practice slowly and focus on co-ordinating your hands. Simply put, if your fingers don’t know where they are going and what they are doing, they won’t do anything quickly. By stripping away the timing aspect of an exercise and focussing just on movement your fingers will, in the long run, be able to move much more quickly. This will help strengthen your muscle memory too and it’s a great way to practice exercises and unfamiliar material!
If you want a specific exercise to try this approach with then simply copy the exercise I use in this video. It’s a descending minor scale in groups of four. Take a moment to get comfortable with the exercise and copy the finger pattern that I use in this video. If you find it helpful then by all means skip back and play along with me as I go through it. Just pay attention to the movement and relaxation of your hands as you do.
Finally, I want to say that these tips are applicable to any kind of bass you have. So it doesn’t matter if you have a Fender, Gibson, Ibanez, Sadowsky or any other kind of bass. The make of bass doesn’t matter. These tips are all to do with your hands rather than any specific bass. But that being said, a low action on any bass will also help you out!
Try these tips out and be sure to leave me a comment to tell me how you get on!