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Exercises to Improve Rhythm and Speed

Are you serious about wanting to improve you bass guitar playing? If you are, then one of the most productive things you can do is work on your scales. It has even been said that the level of your scale playing pretty much determines the level of your bass playing overall! I have designed these exercises to help you to develop a more accurate sense of rhythm and to improve the speed and agility of your bass guitar scales.

Before you begin to play the exercises, you might want to set your metronome at 60 and practice clapping each of these rhythm--2 notes per beat, 3 notes per beat, and 4 notes per beat. The exercises consist of playing your scales with a metronome in each of these rhythms. Here is how to play them:

1. Set the metronome for 60 beats per minute. Choose a scale (pentatonic minor is a good one to begin with) and play the scale all the way through TWICE using eighth notes. This means that you play 2 notes for every metronome beat.

2. Leave the metronome set for 60 bpm and play the scale THREE times completely using triplets. The first note of each triplet must be accented (played more loudly). This means that you play 3 notes for every metronome beat. This exercise forces you to play the notes a little faster than the eighth note exercise. You may slow the metronome down if you wish. The important thing is that you choose a tempo at which you can play the exercise PERFECTLY.

Important Note: The mathematics of this exercise work out so that you must play the scale through 3 times before the accent will again fall on the beginning note. That is one reason why this exercise is so beneficial. Be patient and practice this exercise until you can play it all the way through the three repetitions without mistakes.

3. Play the scale four times completely through using sixteenth notes. This means that you must play 4 notes for each metronome beat. Again, if 60 bpm is too fast, slow it down to a tempo at which you can play the exercise perfectly. We play this exercise four time through , not only to increase your speed, but also to build your endurance--your ability to play faster for longer periods of time.

The goal is to be able to play all three of the exercises at 100 beats per minute. When you are able to do that, it will be fairly easy to further increase the tempo. Here is a suggestion for advanced practice: Try to play all the way through all three exercises without stopping in between. When you do this, the last note of the eighth note exercise will become the first note of the triplet exercise. The lst note of the triplet exercise will be the first notes of the sixteenth note exercise.