Believe it or not, bass speed isn’t built over night. No bass player, even the revered Billy Sheehan, simply woke up and started playing fifty miles per hour.
Increasing your bass playing speed requires hours and hours of practice and dedication. The worst part is; there is no way around it.
Unfortunately there are no cheat codes that will help you increase your bass speed in only minutes. While some bass guitar instructional DVDs and books promise it, it isn’t true; it’s a gimmick. Good instructional programs will not promise you to be able to play fast in a couple of days. It takes time for your body and muscles to get used to playing fast.
But if there is no other way to increase bass playing speed, how can you get the most out of your practice to assure yourself that you are in fact on the right track?
First thing’s first; a metronome. The only way you will be able to build speed properly is through the use of a metronome. Metronomes are the key element to fast playing. The only thing about metronomes is, the best way to use them is from the ground up. This means start off slowly!
Using a metronome at a low speed, then slowly working your way up, whether using a basic pattern or melody, helps develop the crucial speed ability of muscle memory. Muscle memory, when concerning your fingers, is a bit deceiving, as there aren’t actually any muscles within your digits. Instead, what your digits so is memorize the patterns themselves. This allows your fingers to develop accuracy.
Take for instance your basic C Major scale. This scale consists of the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. If you wanted to play your C Major scale faster, you would simply sit down with a metronome and, starting at about 80bmp, play the scale.
Make sure all of your note spacing is correct, and that your timing is acute. Once you feel comfortable, try bumping the tempo up by 5 or 10 bmp. Repeat the process over and over, during a longer playing session, until you reach the desired tempo.
Another great way to increase your speed, besides playing along with a metronome, is to work on your fingering or picking techniques. Odds are that your fretting hand is already fast enough, and that it is your picking or fingering hand that needs to catch up.
Practice your fingering or picking patterns. If you struggle with alternate picking, take your time and slowly work on your alternate picking from the ground up. Then, once you are done, use a metronome to get your picking and fretting synchronized and up to par.
In the end, the only way to properly increase your bass playing speed, as we mentioned before, is to practice. Set aside a block of time each day, whether that be thirty minutes or ninety minutes, and dedicate the allotted time to speed exercises involving both your picking or fingering, and metronome exercises.
Take some of your patterns, and instead of playing them at the speed you know them, slow them down, and then build them back up. You’ll be surprised at how much faster and more fluid they become.
JamPlay offers the best online bass instructions on the Internet. With hundreds of professionally recorded lessons, Jamplay is the ideal place to learn the basics and improve your bass playing skills. With great teachers and carefully planned lesson structures, I guarantee you will be able to take your bass playing to a higher level in no time.