Bass arpeggios are a great resource for both practicing finger exercises as well as learning the fundamental components of chords.
Every practice routine should include some kind of incorporation of finger exercise both for developing dexterity and finger independence as well as understanding chords from a fundamental perspective and how they relate to one another musically.
What that means is that when you play a chord, say, a C major chord:
It’s made up of 3 notes: the root, third and the fifth. Those notes derive from the C major scale: CDEFGABC. The bolded notes are the ones in the chord above.
When you play those tones together, you get a chord. When you play them one after another individually, you’re playing the arpeggios of that chord.
Now, not all chords are major as we know. We also know that a minor chord occurs when you take that same triad from above and flatten the third note, turning it into a minor third.
Arpeggios are useful to know because they teach you what goes into a chord. They’re the connector between melody and harmony and learning to identify what arpeggios make up what chord and how to weave in and out of chords rather than just jumping from root tone to root tone dramatically increases your musical options on bass guitar.
6 Bass Arpeggio Exercises for Your Practice Routine
Below are 6 bass guitar exercises that focus on building finger dexterity and becoming better acquainted with arpeggios and how they work together.
When it comes to these exercises, bear these guidelines in mind:
Though the examples are written in the key of C, it’s encouraged that you play them across all 12 keys. As you play them across all 12 keys, encountering both major and minor keys along the way, provided you’re playing on a standard 4 string bass, you’re going to encounter common shapes associated with playing major scales and playing minor scales on bass guitar.
Don’t stop at just the octaves written. Like playing across all 12 keys, these exercises are meant to go beyond simply the notes written out below. See if you can make it all the way up to the second octave on your bass.
Keep your fingering both for the left and the right hand consistent from note to note. Though this is a relative statement and consistent can mean something different from bassist to bassist, a good rule of thumb is if you feel like you have complete mobility in each of your fingers and hands an no feelings of tightness or cramping when reaching for certain notes, consider that proper form for you.
A tempo is not provided on these examples for a reason. Choose a tempo that you feel you can play comfortably at and work up tempo from there.
Repetition is key – but repetition in the right amount. It’s up to you to determine what you want to use this particular exercise for. If you’re using it to warm up, treat it like a warmup exercise and spend only a few minutes with it. If you’re more to using it as a learning tool, work slowly and methodically as you move through each exercise.
Want More Exercises?
Here are some additional links to more great arpeggio exercises to play around with: