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Mastering the Bass Fretboard

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Superior bass skills with the Absolute Fretboard Trainer

Here are two questions that can reveal what kind of bass player you are. They are very simple and go like this:

Question 1: Tell me, quickly, what is the note on the lowest open string of your bass?

Now please make a mental note of exactly how fast you answered and how difficult it was to answer.

Question 2: Put a finger at random on the fretboard and tell me, quickly, what note it is. Do it again three more times in different positions.

Make another mental note of exactly how fast you could name those notes.

Now, compare the speed of your first answer (naming an open string) with the second (naming random notes).

Unless you are an absolute beginner, I'm sure you answered the first question immediately and effortlessly.

In other words, you “just knew” that note.

But what about the second question? Did you also reply immediately and effortlessly? Did you “just know” all those notes too?

Or were your answers much slower because you had to "think", count frets, use some other familiar note as a reference, or do some other kind of mental acrobatics?

If this is a good description of your experience, it obviously means that you don't know the fretboard very well...

...and in that case many other areas will suffer as well: following chord charts, creating good bass lines, improvisation, avoiding errors and recovering from them when they happen, using scales and arpeggios — progress in all these areas is limited and frustrated by lack of serious fretboard knowledge.

On the other hand the good news is that:

1. It's actually easy to develop absolute fretboard knowledge — knowing every note and position instantly and effortlessly — with a good method and a bit of practice.

2. As soon as you have absolute fretboard knowledge your progress in all other areas will immediately and drammatically accelerate.

What this really means is that investing some time and effort in learning the fretboard extremely well is one of the most powerful things you can do to massively improve your playing.

These are some of the benefits that you will get if you simply learn the fretboard extremely well:

  • The ability to play any note without fumbling around.

  • You will understand arpeggios and chords much better. No more "a finger here and a finger there...", but real notes - A, E, G, D....

  • The ability to create and improvise bass lines on the spot, on any chords, all over the fretboard, according to your inspiration and creativity.

  • You will understand scales much better, and learn them faster.

  • You will be able to use the scales you learn with carefree abandon.

  • You will have an advantage and a better frame of reference during improvisation.

  • You will be better able to translate the notes in your mind into music — and do it right the first time.

  • You will be able to read sheet music more easily.

  • You won't need any more those "chord charts" or "fretboard charts". Rather, you'll have a master chart fixed in your mind and at the tips of your fingers.

  • While improving our playing sometimes we get stuck and we don't know why. If that's your case now, learning the fretboard can get you out of the rut and playing better than ever before.

  • With a fluent knowledge of the fretboard you will better understand what others are playing. When you will see another bassist playing, you will immediately know which notes they are playing, and make much more sense of it.

  • It will also help you to observe, remember, and then “steal” any good riffs and bass lines that you notice when somebody else plays.

  • How many wrong notes do you play because you're not sure about which note is where, or because it takes too long to figure out? Wanna stop that?

  • Many self-taught musicians (but not only them!) have some gaps in their knowledge and skill. Learning the fretboard will directly take care of one major gap, and indirectly help with other weak spots.

  • While performing, instead of worrying about getting lost or making mistakes, your mind will be free to focus on the music itself, and you will be able to express yourself better.

  • Even the best players make mistakes, but a masterful knowledge of the fretboard helps to minimize and neutralize them. In other words, if you know the fretboard well, even after a mistake you will fall on your feet, not on your face.

  • You will know exactly what you're playing - notes, scales, chords, or whatever - and that will make everything easier.

  • Because of your super-familiarity with the instrument, you will be a lot more confident and relaxed when you play.

    As you can see, if you are serious about playing bass and if your fretboard knowledge is still weak, there are many good reasons why you should make it a priority to improve in this area as soon as possible.

    And if you decide to go for it, you should also know that a well designed training tool can make a huge difference in the time and effort you will need to achieve your goal.

     
        The Absolute Fretboard Trainer

    The Absolute Fretboard Trainer (AFT) is an interactive multimedia software course sigle-mindedly designed to achieve one goal: to give you the ability to know each and every note on the fretboard instantly.

    This goal is achieved through a series of special exercises and requires an average of 20 minutes a day of practice for a few weeks.

    You can download AFT Lite, the free version of Absolute Fretboard Trainer, and see for yourself how the method works. Then, when you are completely satisfied that the program can help you develop absolute fretboard skills quickly and effectively, you can buy AFT Professional and complete your training.

    AFT Lite download page

    You can also read more about AFT in this web site, especially the method and software pages.

     
        A few more thoughts...

    Whether you will use AFT or not, I sincerely believe that you should make it your goal to develop absolute fretboard knowledge.

    Seriously, how can you ever hope to kick butt on the bass if you don't even know where the notes are? Come on. One way or another, do learn the fretboard extremely well and your playing will improve immediately and drammatically.

    One last thing...

    Absolute fretboard knowledge does not develop automatically, even after years of playing. You will only develop it when you focus on it with specific training.

    To understand why, consider this more familiar case: touch typing.

    Most people never invest a few hours to really learn the layout of the keyboard and spend their whole life typing with two fingers while looking at the keyboard all the time. The result is a lifetime of painfully slow and frustrating typing.

    Meanwhile, others decide to go for it and learn touch typing once and for all. The result, after just a few weeks, is a lifetime of fast, effortless and enjoyable typing.

    Similarly, you will only develop absolute fretboard knowledge when you decide to go for it and give yourself specific and dedicated training. Without such training you will always remain the musical equivalent of a two-finger typist.

    I invite you to download AFT now and experience how easy and enjoyable it can be to develop truly superior bass skills:

    AFT Lite download page

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