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Is there ONE exercise that's been key for you?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bioflava, May 10, 2018.

  1. Bioflava

    Bioflava Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2016
    Hey TBrs,

    I'm an advanced beginner who's been playing on-and-off for a few decades. I play mainly rock and blues, and jam weekly with a 4-piece band. I've been working on really learning the fingerboard of late and have found this exercise really helpful:
    • Moving through the circle of 4ths (or 5ths) playing straight 8ths on each string (against a drum machine) and saying the note names as I play them. So if I start on F, I play the F on the E string, then on the A string and so forth playing all the Fs in the first 12 frets -- and then I go backwards.
    1. Although this is basic, it's really been helping my fretboard knowledge and time. I think I'm going to try Scott's suggestion here to say the note names as I play the scales and then learn the scales on a single string.
    Do you have an exercise that has really turbo-charged your playing? If so please share!

    FenderB, G-Z, byoung93888 and 2 others like this.
  2. Mine would be quite similiar to yours, with a couple of differences:

    Definitely working thru the circle of 4ths and the circle of 5ths (whichever comes to mind first that day)

    Instead of pounding out 8ths or playing scales, I primarily focus on chord tones, mainly 7th chords (the big four: Maj, Min, Dom, [half]Dim). And I focus on naming each chord tone, not just the root. Again, whichever suits my fancy that day.

    I play each arpeggio using five different fingerings: starting with the 4th finger, starting with 2nd or 3rd finger, starting with the 1st finger, a two string arpeggio and, finally, a one string arpeggio.

    Lastly, I go as far up the fingerboard as possible. Yes, it's a duplicate of the first twelve frets, but it a much tighter fingering and, in some situations, different hand positioning. Better to be somewhat familiar with that territory when you need to go there. I'm primarily a classic rocker, soul and blues guy and you'd be surprised how many songs go up there (Toto - Africa, Elton John - Rocket Man, etc.)

    It's all good, no matter how we do it.
  3. Bioflava

    Bioflava Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2016
    Heya -- those two above sound like challenging twists! How long does it take you (roughly) to play through one circle using all those different fingerings?
    FatStringer52 likes this.
  4. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    Learn each scale in 3 positions on the neck
    and use a different finger to lead off.
    i.e. middle finger, major. Index finger,major. Pinky for major again.
    pappabass, FatStringer52 and Bioflava like this.
  5. Green1


    Sep 23, 2010
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Janek Gwizdala has two new books on major and minor modes, I believe they are called Chop Builders........he has them on his site as well as amazon. There are tons of scale related exercises. Standard music and Tab. The cool thing is EACH example moves through every degree or mode of the key you are in. And each example is presented in all 12 keys. I highly recommend all of his books.......All the Good Stuff and All the Better Stuff are awesome as well.
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
    dab12ax7ef, Wito, byoung93888 and 3 others like this.
  6. Bioflava

    Bioflava Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2016
    Thanks @Green1 --> I know Janek's work from seeing him on YouTube and those books look awesome, but possibly a bit advanced for me. Great suggestions tho, thanks!
  7. It takes about half an hour to work thru one specific exercise, i.e., major 7ths thru one of the circles. Makes for a great warm-up as well as memory reinforcement. Obviously, there are some root postions that you cannot play all 5 fingerings.
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
    Bioflava likes this.
  8. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
  9. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    More gigs
    mambo4, Amano and Bioflava like this.
  10. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Learning some piano.
    Bondobass and Bioflava like this.
  11. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Suspended Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    The 'one' thing I've done that's been key is to not worry about finding 'one' thing to concentrate on. If you want to be a good, well-rounded player, there are no short-cuts. The closest thing to 'one' thing that actually works is to get a good teacher. There's nothing wrong with Youtube videos and books, but they aren't really lessons - they provide NO feedback.
    JRA, IamGroot, Bioflava and 1 other person like this.
  12. grinx

    grinx Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2003
    Raleighwood, NC
    I have taken 2 lessons
    1 was a generic music store intro lesson
    1 was with some dude in NoVa that everyone said was The Man, who seemed to play everything, named Peter Prince

    He showed me one thing that I still use daily, he called it Spiders:
    start on the lowest string/note, chromatically put a finger to each note working towards the bridge then back to the nut, move down a string, repeat, move up the string (keep moving down if you play a 'normal' bass) and move up one fret repeat. do this all the way to the 24th fret and then work you way back down. It takes a couple of minutes.

    great stretchout
    Bioflava and G-Z like this.
  13. For me it was not one exercise, but understanding if I knew the chord/scale degree spelling - (G7= R-3-5-b7) and where those notes were on my fret board I could provide useable bass lines.

    That knowledge did not come over night, but, once I had it many new doors were opened.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2018
    Seanto and Bioflava like this.
  14. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    While scales and arpeggios are great practice, I find listening skills are very essential. And understanding rhythms. Lastly......being diverse. This gives a much better appreciation for all music.
    Bioflava, Bob_Ross and Nashrakh like this.
  15. Scott Lynch

    Scott Lynch Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2002
    Delaware, USA
    I'm a big fan of the fretboard note exercise over at www.musictheory.net. It's the evolution of flashcards: Fretboard Note Identification Additionally this exercise is available as an iOS app under the name Tenuto.

    I encourage my students to take 5 minutes or so a day on exercises such as this and practice them during downtime, i. e. sitting at the doctor's office, on a break at work, waiting in the car somewhere, etc.

    It's customizable for instrument as well as range. Depending on where you're at with knowing the fingerboard you can start with the first few frets then add more as your knowledge base grows.

    Exercises like this are convenient because they don't require you to be in front of the instrument to do them. There's also a growing body of research that supports the notion that mental practice exercises such as this can be just as effective at developing certain skills as actually practicing your instrument.
  16. Green1


    Sep 23, 2010
    Scottsdale, AZ
    I think you would be able to handle it. Everything is tabbed out and there is video that goes with all the books that shows Janek playing the examples. Even if you just started with the Chop Builder book on Major Modes. It will give you ideas that will not only work out your hands but it also allows you to hear the modes using different sequences which is cool. Good Luck!
    Bioflava likes this.
  17. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    JimK and Bioflava like this.
  18. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    No. Unless you call ear training a exercise. I do it all the time when not playing.
    Bioflava likes this.
  19. Bioflava

    Bioflava Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2016
    Heya @lfmn16, I know there's no "one" thing b/c music is complex, and I've been learning about music theory since 1990... My issue is that I "know" more than my hands can hands can do -- so yeah, if a song calls for a G7, I know what scale degrees make up that chord -- but really, in a rock context, so much is just be able to play roots 5ths and some fills -- but with great rhythm and feel.

    So that's why I'm looking for exercises -- not because I think there's a magic key, but because I'm looking to get the basics into great shape (fretboard knowledge, rhythm, arpeggios, etc) so I can apply the functional theory in my head :)

    Thanks to everyone for the great suggestions!
  20. Simple C major scale starting on 8th fret, up two octaves plus 1, then down two octaves -1 alternating fingers. It's been instrumental in developing my right hand alternating technique and creating a consistent plucking strategy so my fingers aren't just doing "whatever".
    dab12ax7ef likes this.
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