Exercises to Improve Rhythm and Speed
Are you serious about wanting to improve you bass guitar playing? If you are, then one of the most productive
things you can do is work on your scales. It has even been said that the level of your scale playing pretty much
determines the level of your bass playing overall! I have designed these exercises to help you to develop a more
accurate sense of rhythm and to improve the speed and agility of your bass guitar scales.
Before you begin to play the exercises, you might want to set your metronome at 60 and practice clapping each of
these rhythm--2 notes per beat, 3 notes per beat, and 4 notes per beat. The exercises consist of playing your
scales with a metronome in each of these rhythms. Here is how to play them:
1. Set the metronome for 60 beats per minute. Choose a scale (pentatonic minor is a good one to begin with) and
play the scale all the way through TWICE using eighth notes. This means that you play 2 notes for every metronome
2. Leave the metronome set for 60 bpm and play the scale THREE times completely using triplets. The first note
of each triplet must be accented (played more loudly). This means that you play 3 notes for every metronome beat.
This exercise forces you to play the notes a little faster than the eighth note exercise. You may slow the
metronome down if you wish. The important thing is that you choose a tempo at which you can play the exercise
Important Note: The mathematics of this exercise work out so that you must play the scale through 3 times before
the accent will again fall on the beginning note. That is one reason why this exercise is so beneficial. Be patient
and practice this exercise until you can play it all the way through the three repetitions without mistakes.
3. Play the scale four times completely through using sixteenth notes. This means that you must play 4 notes for
each metronome beat. Again, if 60 bpm is too fast, slow it down to a tempo at which you can play the exercise
perfectly. We play this exercise four time through , not only to increase your speed, but also to build your
endurance--your ability to play faster for longer periods of time.
The goal is to be able to play all three of the exercises at 100 beats per minute. When you are able to do that,
it will be fairly easy to further increase the tempo. Here is a suggestion for advanced practice: Try to play all
the way through all three exercises without stopping in between. When you do this, the last note of the eighth note
exercise will become the first note of the triplet exercise. The lst note of the triplet exercise will be the first
notes of the sixteenth note exercise.