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Hitting the High Notes...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by JazzV, Jun 2, 2001.

  1. JazzV


    Feb 27, 2001
    There is nothing on bass more frustrating for me than trying to read and play notes above, say, the 9th fret. Even though I "know" where the notes are, I just can't seem to keep from reaching too far from fret to fret. Since it's very rare in our church band for the bass to play anything above the third C (on a 5 string), I don't get very much practice in normal playing.

    I've tried things like playing along to MIDI's with lots of higher passages, but it just doesn't seem to get anywhere. Here I am playing a low F, when all of a sudden, here comes that dreaded high D-Eb-F-G run. And you can forget about anything above that G.

    Is there any decent way of learning this area of the fretboard in a way where it can be used practically. Yes, I know I'm the bass and I'm supposed to not pretend it's a guitar, but I'd kind of like to get better at this aspect of playing.
  2. 6-stringjazz


    Jun 1, 2001
    Abq NM
    Check out some classical studies. Root around in a music library, or store and find some material that is suited to your reading abilities, with notes way up above the staff - practice slow and eventually your hands will take control and guide you through rough high passages.
  3. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Nothing you can really do, but practice. Run a lot of scales, arpeggios, etc, up two or three octaves. If you want some real fun, go buy a book of John Patitucci solos...since it's written like piano music with both clefs, there are plenty of notes written in the Middle C area that'll help you read and get the note at the same time.

    But running the scales, etc, will really help your muscle memory.
  4. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks! In Memoriam

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH
    What I have my students do is to do the scales up in that area of the neck, but while they are doing the scales( which are very, very slowly done; sometimes painfully slow!) they also call out the name of the note out loud. The out loud part is the part that will help you remember where each note is on that part of the neck. Also I make them do the scales with 2 different fingerings on the way up and on the way down(they can't take the same path they took to come down as they did to come down). That prevents them from just learning a pattern as opposed to learning the fretboard. Remember too, that at the 12th fret the open strings are repeated and knowing what notes are up above the ones you are learning might be of help to you also.

    Chris A.:rolleyes:
  5. JazzV


    Feb 27, 2001
    Thanks for the advice. I think I'm going to just search for some music with the higher notes. Another method I'm going to try is to shift the notes up higher on the staff in the MIDI notation program I use so I can play from MIDIs an octave higher. I use a program called MIDINotate for a lot of my practice since I can play right off my screen. It's also nice because you can slow difficult parts down and not wreck the pitch.

    I just want to get out of the habit of staying within the first nine frets and to explore some of the different tones further up the neck.

    Thanks again.

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