1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Faster Descending than Ascending Scales?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by FunkMetalBass, Apr 21, 2010.

  1. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    I noticed this the other day (through the last 7 years of my playing, it's never been an issue), and I've been pushed to my limit. My guitarist wanted to end a song with an ascension of an F# harmonic minor. Not an issue, but I realized I couldn't play it nearly as fast as I could when descending through it.

    Has anybody else noticed this? I realize that, by playing with my fingers, it's logical that this should be the case to some extent (ergonomics + all upstrokes). I'm curious if there's a way to build up the ascending speed as well. I realize playing through my modes ascending at various tempos is going to be a huge part of it, but maybe there's some subtle technique issue I've had for years that I'm just now finding out is a minor hindrance.

    Any suggestions from you TBers?
  2. Coming from a new bassist/part-time guitarist, I'm the same way. My theory is that when descending a scale its likely your fingers are on the fret they need to be at already, and all you have to do is pull off and play. When I'm ascending, I have a tendency to have my pinky finger basically straight out. When I'm trying to play quickly, it takes longer to get that pinky where it needs to go, then to just pull off. I don't mean doing "pull-offs," just taking your finger off the fret.
  3. When you start your ascension, how far are your fingers above the strings? Ideally you want them always "at the ready" so to speak, having them close to the strings (but not so close that you're muting them or hitting false harmonics). Descending is easy, since you're basically just releasing your grip, but when your'e about to fret down, there's much more muscle memory involved. I tend to play with my fingers no more than 1/8" (roughly, I didn't actually measure, hehe) from the strings, that way, the mere thought of fretting down gets the job done, rather than having to traver a further distance to fret the note, which takes longer, thus slowing you down. That's why you see alot of accomplished players making scales look so easy. They literally are doing it the easy way, with less work. Hope that helps :D
  4. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    It's funny that we practice playing them at the same speed.
    Never noticed until I just tried it now, buy yeah, faster descending.
  5. It's the right hand. When you descend, your fingers and hand/arm move the same way. When ascending, you have to pluck down while you move your hand up.
  6. I'm the exact opposite...
  7. TheBasicBassist


    Jan 8, 2009
    Newark, DE
    Endorsing Artist: Rosado Guitars
    I'm faster ascending, though not by much. I practice all my modes both ascending and descending in all positions. Play the whole scale on 1-string, 2-strings, ect.. Try starting with all different fingers and, if you don't, stick to a strict alternation of fingers and floating thumb technique.

    Just something that has helped me the past few years.
  8. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    I should have been more specific, the issue is not in my fretting hand, but in my plucking hand. I've been consciously working on the floating thumb, but it doesn't seem to be helping all that much.

    Looks like the solution is to just keep running and down the strings and increase my speed in both directions.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.