Bass Guitar Practice Checklist

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If you get into good habits with your practice routine and you are learning what you need to improve, then you will be setting yourself up for continuous improvement as a musician. It sounds so simple but in reality, it’s anything but.

Most people know roughly what they need to do to lose weight, pass a test, change career, get fit or improve their bass playing. But there are plenty of people that struggle with the regular behaviours required. All the best bass players have become good because they’ve correctly repeated the relevant physical movements over and over again as well as gaining knowledge in areas that transform them into great musicians.

I think this is one of the most important areas to think about and get right when learning the bass guitar. Just picking up your bass every now and then with no real plan or focus is not going to do you any favours. It’s too vague.

Get your practice routine sorted out and your steady improvement as a bass player will follow. The best practice routine is the one you stick to. Click To Tweet

This practice checklist is designed to give you a little to think about in terms of how you structure and organise your practice and what to actually play. There are more free tips and suggestions on how to practice here.

For tips on what to focus on: 3 Things To Prioritise In Your Bass Playing.

Follow that up with 12 Really Useful Practice Tips For Bass Players.

This checklist shouldn’t be taken literally. It is just a guide and you must learn how to adapt this to your specific goals as a musician. These will change depending on where you are on your musical journey. To start with though, feel free to follow it exactly.

1. Technical Warm Up

Use this part of your practice routine to focus on an aspect of your technique that needs work. For a very simple exercise to coordinate your left and right hands and to build speed, accuracy and fluency see Easy But Useful Single String Exercise. Always start slow and allow your mind time to get used to the new physical movements required. Then build up speed. Consider using a metronome to work on your timing, groove and accuracy. As you improve, add new techniques such as using the plectrum, slap, ghost notes, muting, hammer ons, pull offs, tapping, harmonics etc.

 

2. Memorise

Now learn something you don’t know off by heart eg: arpeggios, scales, notes on the fretboard, names of notes on the musical stave, rhythms, modes. Each time you memorise and absorb something; move on to the next thing. The more you gain experience and listen to the great players and albums, the more you will know what you need to learn.

 

3. Play!

Tunes, riffs, solos, songs. Anything. YouTube tutorials, songs you or your band are working on. Anything. You can start with How To Play 9 Famous Bass Guitar Riffs and How To Play A 12 Bar Blues On The Bass Guitar. This is the very fun part of playing and probably the reason you took the bass up in the first place.

That’s it. 3 points. Now there are many more potential questions here such as what exactly to practice (when you’ve exhausted my suggestions above) and for how long. This will all become clearer the more you play but for some tips on what to learn look at The First Things You Should Learn On Bass Guitar and How To Improve Your Bass Playing In The Quickest Time.

In terms of how long to spend practising, that will depend on you and the time you can dedicate to it alongside your busy life. That’s up to you but just know that you need some sort of action plan otherwise you will simply stagnate and plateau which will lead to frustration and wasted potential. That’s the worst, isn’t it?! As a guide, 10 minutes every day is better than 60 minutes once a week so aim for consistency. The better you want to be, the more time and consistency you will need to put in. It’s as simple as that.

Practice is your time to make mistakes and figure out your weaknesses. Only then can you start turning them into strengths. Take your time, be patient, consistent and don’t give up.

Download Bass Guitar Practice Checklist.

What do you like to practise? Comment below…

 


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  • I have an exercise I adopted from a YouTube video to assist in memorizing both the fretboard and new scales or arpeggios. I don’t know if it is very good but I will share and if anyone has feedback on how I could improve it I would love to hear it!

    First, I select several chords or arpeggios I am trying to learn. Today, I was working on the major 7th, the minor 7th, the dominant 7 and the half-diminished. Then, I go to the E string. Then I play the arpeggios I’ve selected, always selecting the next root note on on the E string which corresponds to a circle of fourth away. I usually start on C and run CFBfEfAfDfGfBEADG. When I shift from one letter note to the next, I also move to the next chord or arpeggio in the list I’ve selected to practice.

    Once I finish the E string, I do the same thing on the A string. When I reach the D string, I start the scale / arpeggio one octave up and play it downwards and then upwards once instead of playing it upwards and then downwards. If I make a mistake like playing the wrong note or wrong scale, I start again, but otherwise any mistakes I make I allow myself to correct on a subsequent attempt. One goal was to avoid sitting on a single note too long trying to perfect a single arpeggio, which is what I have done before I started doing this practice. Once I’ve done all four strings I am done the exercise.

    I find by switching chords and arpeggios every single time I get to a new string, it forces me to think “How do I play a dominant seventh again?” or “Where’s Df on this thing again?” At the beginning, I had to count up from the open string to find almost every single note, amd reference my cheatsheet every time I got somewhere. I still have to do that sometimes, but I think I’m starting to get a better grasp of the fretboard.

    I didn’t use a metronome at first to keep it simple but I want to add it in. And maybe try to sing along with the intervals I am playing as well, to help train my ear. I’ve been trying to identify music by ear but its still quite the mental workout to even determine one interval.

    Because this exercise is so difficult for me at this stage, I always time myself to see how long it takes me to complete it. I always feel good when I see that I’m getting faster at completing the exercise, which motivates me to try again later.

    I started doing this exercise yesterday and it took me 53 minutes to complete. It was very slow. But I’ve done it three times now and it takes me 31 minutes. I am hoping soon I will be able to do it in under 20 minutes! But we will see.

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