Right Hand Speed: A Comment Response

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Julian writes:

Hi Jayme

Huge fan of your podcasts, YouTube content and your vibe and dedication in general. As as you play for the Man too is a win. 

I have a quick question: over the last couple of years I’ve noticed, as I have played less jazz and prog music, that my right hand (plucking) is becoming “slower”. Can I please ask some advise on how to regain, and improve apon that speed and dexterity. I was just watching a Bass The World clip on your new signature Torillo bass (which is outa bounds gorgeous) and it ends with you playing a very neat lick that’s inspired me to get off my a$$ and get the engine running at speed.

Any pointers, clips, lessons, practice routines etc. would be MASSIVELY appreciated!!

God bless from Johannesburg, South Africa


Thanks for reaching out, Julian, I’d be delighted to help! Yes, I know exactly what you mean. In fact, I have this conversation with nearly every musician my age who has been doing this for as long as I have; about how we used to be so much faster back in the day, or how our gigs have “caused” us to slow down (not really, but really).

For years all I did was play country, church and cover band gigs, because that’s all the work I was ever getting. As a result my abilities declined for obvious reasons; I was no longer being challenged. I eventually realized that in order to get back on track, I’d need more than a “job” to get me to keep myself in shape.

Think of it like physical fitness; what do you really need to do to just stay alive? Not much, as it turns out. But what do you really need to do if you want to be trim, fit, active, feeling less pain as you age and looking your absolute best? Well, the answer is “probably more than what your daily job/life/routine requires of you.”

And so musically I think it’s important to do the same. Just because your gig (be it church, cover bands, easy pop tunes in the studio, etc.) doesn’t require you to be in tip-top shape, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive for that on your own. It just means that you need to take the initiative yourself. Consequently I think you’ll find that being in that state of “fitness” or “shape” is going to improve every avenue of your musical life, just as physical fitness does.

So what kinds of things can you do to get the engine running at speed again? Some practical ideas would be to try and practice your right hand speed while you’re doing something else throughout the day, like running drills while you watch TV. When I hit the treadmill or stationary bike I always have a tablet or phone with Netflix ready to go, otherwise I’d go insane. So if you’re sitting on the couch binge-watching Game of Thrones, you should have a bass in your lap the whole time. Even if you’re just plucking a single note, increasing and decreasing speed for an extended period of time, you’ll see your speed get better over time just as you would if you were running on a treadmill.

Perhaps try playing two notes per string, or three notes per string, before moving to the next one. Maybe try playing 8th notes to triplets to 16ths and back down. Or even try doing “3 sets of 10” like you would if you were weight lifting in the gym; I often parallel musical practice to physical fitness because if you approach things scientifically you will see results.

There’s PLENTY of videos here at TB.N discussing this topic, but you may want to check out these two free videos on my YouTube Channel:

https://thebassist.net/the-perfect-practice-routine/
https://thebassist.net/top-10-practice-hacks/

I’d also HIGHLY recommend checking out my book The Way of The Bassist, which is available HERE for free to all subscribing members at TB.N, or at The Bassist Store. That should be plenty to get you started for now. Of course if you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to ask! Take care and stay well Julian!

Jayme