My StudyBass

Basic Technique

At this stage, if you started from nothing at the beginning of the study guide, your technique should be progressing. I'm sure things which seemed impossible at first, now seem simple. This is how it will always be. Remember, if someone else can do it, it's possible for you to do it, too. It just takes time, practice, and desire.

Here are a few mistakes you might still be making, and you might re-focus your efforts on them:

Alternate Plucking

You must alternate pluck with 2 fingers. Plucking with only one finger is without doubt the worst habit you can acquire. No other bad technical habit will cause you more grief down the road.

Watch your plucking hand as you play—not your fretting hand. Are you consistently plucking 1-2-1-2 (or 2-1-2-1)? If not, work on this intensely. If you don't, you will struggle as things get more advanced.

The string-crossing exercises are also a great for working on this.

It's very easy for this bad habit to be over-looked—it doesn't make a bad sound. You tend to fix technical issues that make bad sounds like fret buzzing or unwanted ringing strings. When you don't alternate pluck, there is no immediate negative feedback. That's why it is so easy to get stuck with this habit which leads to a big, ugly brick wall.

Fretting Hand

Fret buzzes probably still happen to you. Work at pressing right behind the frets.

Reaching comfortably across 4 frets is probably easier, but still difficult—especially with your fourth finger. Keep working at the fretting exercises. Focus on this as you play your chord and scale patterns, too.

Lastly, at this stage students are still working at keeping their fingers close to the strings. Don't allow them to fly off the fretboard when they're not being used. It takes concentration in the beginning, but eventually you'll never think about it.


A huge part of a good, clean sound comes from properly muting the strings. Both hands play a part in this. If you forgot how to mute, review the entire bass technique lesson block.

A lot of people don't realize that many albums have “ghost” musicians on them. This is when people in the band have sloppy technique or can't play their parts well, and the record label calls in a pro to lay it down in one take. It's much cheaper to hire the ghost than pay for Take #103. I know a ghost whose uncredited work won a Grammy. There are probably many. Don't be sloppy.

The string-crossing exercises are great for working on muting in both hands. Play slowly, and make sure you only hear one note at a time.

Get Some Feedback

If a lot of this is under control for you, great! Be sure to get some outside opinions from bandmates, teachers, and friends. Or, record yourself. It's easy to think you're doing things right, but sometimes you are distracted with another aspect of playing.

Be critical of yourself, but not judgmental. There's a big difference. Critical: “I can do this better.” Judgmental: “I'm the worst bassist on the planet.”