10 Important Bass Guitar Technique Tips

Get your technique up to speed and bass playing becomes easier. In turn, this helps sustain momentum, keeping you playing and improving. Here are ten really useful tips for you.

One Finger In The Future

Make sure that you have a plucking hand finger and a fretting hand finger ready to play the next note. This tiny little measure will improve your timing and accuracy no end.

What Finger To Use?

One finger per fret and extended fingering are two systems to know. Not rules, just two ways of doing things. With a few variations, this will cover most bass playing you'll ever encounter.

Fingers, slap, or plectrum?

All three! Learn them all and you will be able to cover all styles and genres. Essential if you play in a covers band or want to turn professional.

Here's the drum beat I was jamming over.

The Process

Start slow, focus on the mechanics, be really patient whilst your brain catches up with your fingers, then work on timing and speed.

Use a metronome or drum loops

I have plenty on this page if you scroll down. This is also a good video to check out.

Play musical sounding exercises

I wrote a whole book on this.

Here's a great exercise from the book working on modes on the way up and pentatonics on the way down. You can easily create bass lines from this idea.

More on Creative Bass Technique Exercises.

Hold the bass properly 

This is a basic fundamental many get wrong. This video shows how it's done.

Don’t Play Too Hard

Digging in too hard can accelerate strains and pains and choke the bass, even making it go out of tune. Aim for a light touch and then you can play harder as and when you want.

Use Articulations

These sound great in funk bass playing (check out 100 Funk Grooves For Electric Bass), as well as many other styles. Hammer-ons, pull-offs, bends, slides, vibrato, ghost notes are amongst the many articulations that can really breathe life and vitality into your bass playing.

How To Practise Technique 

Getting good starts with a solid practice plan. I'd start your session by deliberately focusing on the weak parts of your technique. Build that discipline and you will keep on improving. Here's a sample practice checklist and there are more practice lessons here.

Bass Guitar Practice Checklist

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