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Do You Know How To Exponentially Improve Your Bass Playing?

There are two ways you can improve your bass playing - one is a long term play and the other can return results almost immediately.

The long term play is the one that most bass players think of when I ask the question: how would YOU work at getting better at the bass.

So take a moment and ask this question of yourself: if you had to come up with a plan TODAY to make you a better bass player in the next 6 months what would you do?

Think about that for a second….and then scroll past the image of the coffee cup (I'm drinking coffee whilst I'm waiting for you to think about the answer to the question) to find out more...


The Long Term Method Of Improving Your Bass Playing

The long term way of improving your bass playing is to focus on your technique. To work on exercises that improve your fretting hand, your plucking hand and the co-ordination between the two.

Once you’ve reached a plateau level - and If you’ve been playing for over 18 months say then you’ve reached this level already - then to improve the technical aspects of your playing takes dedicated practice focusing on exercises designed to specificically improve your technique.
Part of that design process should include some kind of tracking of tempos and the like and part of that design process should factor in that this kind of practice work doesn’t give you overnight returns.

When you’re trying to move from plateau level by ONLY focusing on technique this is a long term play. Technique improvements have to be built in the same way that a weight lifter has to train over long periods of time to increase the weights he can successfully lift.

Here’s the kicker though: if you use the long term method of improvement at the end of it you’ll be a very similar bass player - you’ll just be able to play faster by a relatively small percentage.

That’s why for most players another method of improvement is required.


The Short Term Method Of Improving Your Bass Playing - Improving Your Bass IQ (And Make Exponential Gains In The Process)

Now you’re probably thinking: WTF is Bass IQ?

Sidebar: I recently qualified as a Level 2 coach in Basketball to help my eldest son who is mad crazy about basketball. And top level coaches in basketball refer to “Basketball IQ.”

Here’s a definition of basketball IQ:Basketball IQ means  your  ability to process information at game speed, the understanding of the importance of time and score, reading the flow of the game and determine if it needs to be changed, understanding your teammates strength’s and weaknesses, knowing and developing an understanding of the scouting report/game plan, watching tapes of your team, of yourself, of the opposing team and the person you will defend, listening to knowledgeable people, reading about the game, studying the game”.

And I really like the concept of “basketball IQ” - being a good player isn’t just about developing skills, it’s also about developing an understanding of how those skills function within the flow of the game.

It’s the same for bass.

Hence my use of the term: “bass IQ.”

My definition of Bass IQ is something that’s not set in stone but is fluid and changing as my understanding of it changes. Currently my definition of Bass IQ contains these elements:


  • The Role Of The Bass Within A Group Setting
  • That The Bass Line Is The Glue Of The Band To Connect Rhythmn And Harmony
  • The Common Language Of The Bass - And How It Fits Together
  • How To Create New Lines That Do All Of The Above
  • A Vocabulary Of Common Genre Rhythms
  • A Vocabulary Of Chord Progressions (And How To Approach Them)


Let Me Give You An Example Of How Improving Your Bass IQ Can Work

Say you have a new song to play with your band and the keyboard player tells you that it's got a classic R&B style feel.

So far so good.

Let's also say in one of the song sections there's a chord change from C to Dm but you're not sure how to approach this.

Teaching from a BASS IQ perspective, I can show you four or five different ways that you can approach that chord change.  All of which sound great.  And all of which are drawn from classic rock and soul and so on.

Plus I can show you how to put each solution to the problem into a pair of practice exercises that will allow you to efficiently and effectively practice the different musical solutions to that specific chord movement in all 12 keys so that it's something that's always in your vocabulary.

Depending on your ability level that practice could take from 1 to 5 hours.

There are between 50 and 100 core ideas like this that you should have in your toolbox of ideas. Each time you add one - and some of them can be picked up in hours - compound interest starts to kick in.  And your Bass IQ soars.

That's what I mean by "exponentially improving your bass IQ."


Can You Name The Mystery Bass Player?

Now based on my perception of Bass IQ there’s one bass player who can be held up as literally the dictionary definition of Bass IQ.

Not only did he exhibit all the characterisitics,  he practically wrote the book on the common language of bass.

In the next article we'll talk about who that bass player was and how he came to possess such a high Bass IQ.  See if you can guess who that is and then hit the blue 'CONTINUE' button below to find out if your guess is right...

Paul Wolfe/www.how-to-play-bass.com/safe in lockdown