3 Upshift Exercises to Challenge Yourself

upshift exercisesIf you have ever seen a bassist playing a lick which involves large intervals on the neck, you may have noticed that the fingers are stretched far apart to achieve this reach.

It may look cool to stretch your hands far around the neck, but is it really necessary?


All far frets can be made closer by changing strings. Unless you are playing a light speed run (and in that case, you should know string skipping anyways) there is no reason to overextend your hand to reach any fret.

In this article, we will discuss some basic upshift exercises that will allow you to play all your licks without straining your hands. Hopefully, this will help you in getting more ideas for learning bass soloing.

Exercise One: Learn Your Fret Board

The number one reason why bassists stretch to absurd lengths is because they don’t know the fret board.

Every note that you are trying to reach nine inches away is an inch or two from your hand on another strings.

The same exact note!

So why would you stretch and hurt your fingers to reach that same, close note on another the string you are playing on? It is unnecessary. Take your time to learn your fret board. You will come to see that all notes you are reaching for are right under your fingertips. You are simply jumping right past them.

The easiest way to learn your notes is to sing the note names along with your playing. You don’t have to reach any pitch; this isn’t ear training. Just say the note name. Soon enough you will be able to explore your fret board without a second thought as to what note you are chasing.

This brings us to our second exercise.

Exercise Two: String Skipping

string skippingString skipping can be an advanced technique.

But it doesn’t need to be.

If you are playing ultra-fast licks on your bass, you should already have the skills developed to switch strings in the first place. All you need to do is apply that skill to a string further than you already have.

Take your time and allow yourself to get a hang of jumping between strings. At first, it may seem extremely difficult. It isn’t; you just need to allow your fingers and picking hand to get used to the difference in spacing.

Strings skipping will completely eliminate the need to stretch your fingers across a mile of fret board. If you performed exercise one and learned all of your frets, you should have no trouble finding those same notes on your other strings.

Exercise Three: Practice

Yes, this is an exercise. And it is the most important one.

Learning your notes and how to strings skip to reduce the strain on your fingers is great, but if you don’t put it to constant use, you will start to lose the ability.

Set aside a block of time each and every day to practice both techniques. Don’t allow yourself to take the easy way out; stick to your playing. Upshifting is all about reducing the amount of space your fingers need to cover, whether using chords or licks. Practice to keep it alive in your mind.

Transform Yourself From An Average Player Into a Competent Bassist

JamPlay has thousands of video lessons that are conveniently arranged in structured lesson sets. With high quality instructions from world renowned bassists, Jamplay is an unparalleled learning resource. Whatever your genre preferences, you’ll find something here to help you improve your current level of playing.

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