Here’s a quick exercise you can use for developing your speed when crossing strings on Bass. Take it slow and gradually build up speed. It’s a circular exercise in that it ends back at the start so you can keep going round and round and round. There’s also a few tips on technique and how to increase your fluency.

Crossing Strings

Playing across strings can bring about all kinds of problems when you are trying to develop your technique. You might find that it is more difficult to work across the neck away from you than it is to travel down them towards you – this is because your right hand fingers will naturally fall onto the string below after plucking a note, so you don’t have to move them into position.

You will probably find that a lot of bass fills are descending as it is easier to play down the strings quickly.

It pays to practise moving both ways across the neck so you don’t get caught out by tricky jumps. This next exercise is a simple four-note sequence using the notes of the C major scale in one position from the E to the G string.

Try transposing this line into a different key – getting used to transposing things will make it a lot easier to do on the spot at gigs and rehearsals.


  • Start slowly! Don’t increase the speed until you can play it fluently otherwise you will end up reinforcing mistakes without realising
  • Play each note for its full duration
  • Use alternate picking on the right hand
  • Accent the second note of each group on the descent

The purpose of this exercise is to build accuracy and muscle memory, so rushing through it will defeat the purpose. Concentrate on clarity and accuracy and the speed will come naturally.

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