A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Bass Guitar

Hal Leonard Bass Method ex. 10-17 vids

HLBMI started tackling videos for older exercises in the Hal Leonard Bass Method tonight. I went back to the beginning and recorded exercises 10-17, which are all of the exercises from the E-string lesson. It took about 5 mins to record, because I did it in one sitting and ran each exercise twice at 80 bpm. Turning them into videos took considerably longer – I had to slice up the big video with everything in it, do the same for audio and then combine them into a single file. That’s 8 down and only like 35 more to go…

After I uploaded the videos to my Ugly YouTube channel, I dug up old posts and added the videos to the ones that were about them. If anyone’s interested, here they are, followed by direct links to the 8 videos:

YouTube links:


Practice: 01/25/17 – HLBM 49-56 @ 80bpm

Running exercises at 80 bpm is working pretty well. I’ve just about caught back up to where I was before the stomach bug benched me. Today, I worked on ex. 49-56 in the HLBM. I’ve mainly been focusing on a few bars in ex. 56, because I’m making mistakes when switching between strings in 2 sections (bars 7-8 and 11-13). The next one, ex. 57 (F/X), is what I was up to previously, so I’m right on schedule to tackle it again. I plan on recording practice videos of older exercises, because I haven’t done that for most of the ones in the book yet. It helps me to track the progress I’ve made, and it also seems to be helpful to other people who are working through the book as well.

hlbm56-all-four-one

I’ve found that the exercises that incorporate multiple strings are good reading practice. There are a few that I’ve gone back to expressly for that purpose – ex. 46 (Crossin’ Three), 51 (Gee Whiz), 52 (All Right) and 56 (All Four One) are as much a mental workout as a dexterity one, at my level. I imagine upcoming exercises are only going to build on this. The ones with position changes and string crossing – and the ones that incorporate both at the same time, like going from 1st position on a string to 2nd position on a different string – are particularly challenging. Hopefully, in a few months, I’ll be able to play through these with far less effort, and with greater speed and precision. We’ll see.

The GHS Pressurewound strings are breaking in. They’re a lot easier on my fingertips, so I’ve been enjoying practice more.  I haven’t had to use the Gorilla Tips at all. Regarding technique, I need to work on my pinky finger. It stands upright, like Dr. Evil drinking tea, when its not holding down a fret. I’ve watched some videos about correcting this, and what it seems to come down to is slow, deliberate practice and attention, so I’ll have to start incorporating exercises for this into daily practice.

Finally, I made a Google doc that lists all of the videos I’ve done for the HLBM, with links. Its sparse at the moment, which is what made me really see just how many videos I haven’t made yet. That’s something else I’ll work on during regular review.


Practice: 01/24/17 – HLBM 10-51 @ 80bpm [vid]

I’m finally back after that stomach bug wrecked my January. This Sunday, I started practicing through the Hal Leonard book again. I started back at the beginning, at ex. 10 and did 10-42 on Sunday, 10-51 on Monday, and 46-48 earlier today. It wasn’t so bad. I made some mistakes on the first day, but got better as I went. The new GHS Pressurewound strings play more smoothly that the roundwounds I had before, so I’m able to play for longer periods of time without my fingertips getting sore from holding down the thinner strings.

On the HLBM thread on Talkbass, several more people got the book and joined in. One person finished book 2 and is beginning the 3rd volume. I found it encouraging that he said that when he goes back to older exercises from book 1, they glide under his fingers now.

I made videos of the 3 exercises I ran this AM: 46 “Crossin’ Three”, 47, and 48 “Octa Gone”. I’ve been running everything at 80 bpm, because its not too fast, and it still forces me to read at a decent rate. For those last 2 exercises, I messed with the notes after running the exercise as written, just to see how it would sound doubled-up or played with some slower parts and some faster parts, or as dotted quarter notes in some cases. My aim is to ramp back up to where I was (57 “F/X”) by the end of the week.

Hal Leonard Bass Method ex. 46 “Crossin’ Three” @ 80bpm

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Practice: 01/12/17 – HLBM 57 @ 72bpm [vid]

Practice has been slow for the past few days. I only got in about 20 mins per day for the last 2 days, until now. I’ve been working on ex. 57 (F/X) in the HLBM and its been going slow. This AM, I ran it at 40 bpm, which is the slowest the metronome goes. I made it a point to say the note names aloud as I played them. I just got in a quick PM session, which I’ve been unable to do recently, and for some reason decided to just start at 72 bpm. As strange as it seems, I was able to handle it, so I did a quick recording for my YouTube hall of shame.

This practice video was recorded with the Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 and Audacity. I was going to do it in Reaper, but I think I need to tinker with it a little first – it has exclusive control of the sound system when its in use, and because of that, I can’t use the online metronome that I’ve been using with it.

Hal Leonard Bass Method ex. 57 “F/X” @ 72bpm

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Practice: 01/10/17 – HLBM 57 @ 60bpm [vid]

I didn’t practice yesterday. Nature finally won out and I slept at night. Granted, I was up at 5:30 in the AM, but I’ll take it. The last time I slept at night was in November. This was a whopping 6 hours, so even though I don’t look like it in the video, I was pretty rested.

Anyway, I ran through ex. 57 (F/X) in the Hal Leonard Bass Method again. I had to play it relatively slowly, at 60 bpm, but I made it through. There’s still a part that just doesn’t sound right when I play it, in bar 7, when we move from Eb on the D-string to G-G#-A on the E & A-strings, respectively, but it might sound right when I eventually listen to the track on the CD.

After running these exercises with a metronome, I do wish that Ed Friedland had done one additional thing when writing his books: I wish he had included the bpm of the recorded tracks, so that I know what tempo to focus on for playback, and I know if I’m overshooting when I practice up to 92 bpm. I’d still go to that speed, because its how I’m practicing the exercises, bit it would be a nice piece of comparative data to have.

In other news, I got a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 audio interface yesterday. I haven’t tested it yet, but once I do, I’ll post something up. The guy who sold it to us was something of a character.

Hal Leonard Bass Method ex. 57 “F/X” @ 60bpm


Gorilla Tips & GHS Pressurewound Strings

So, I cut down on my practice time a bit over the weekend. I’ve been aiming for at least an hour a day for a while, but because I wore out my fingertips on my fretting hand, I scaled back to about 30 mins. I’m trying to avoid getting a blister or some other annoying wound. This will definitely slow down my completion of the Hal Leonard book. Last week, I realized that if I can finish a page a week, I’ll actually finish Book 1 by the end of May.

I remembered seeing something that I thought was silly around the end of December, on Talkbass. Someone had gotten these little, color-coded, rubbery fingertip casings for Christmas. However, after having to force myself to scale back practice, I can see their benefit. I ended up hunting online and found a set. They’re not multi-colored, but I wasn’t looking for that. They’re called Gorilla Tips Fingertip Protectors.

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Broken 3rds scale exercise from Bass Guitar Scales group

Here are two versions of a fun exercise I just saw on the Bass Guitar Scales FB group. They have us ascend the major scale in 3rds using two of the more common major scale patterns. I just tried it out using the minor scale, and like it a lot. There’s a nice, consonant sound to the exercise.

If you’re new to scales, what they have us do is play a note in the scale and then play a note a third higher, so, play scale degree 1 and then scale degree 3. Then play scale degree 2 followed by 4, then 3 followed by 5, 4 followed by 6, etc. We can do the same thing going down as well.

Here are both versions. If you’re on FB, go like their page!