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Play Da Bass!

Advanced Lesson:
Sweep Arpeggios

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Sweep arpeggios are typically done on the guitar by brushing the pick down the strings as you finger an arpeggio straight across
the neck with your left hand. This technique can be transferred to the bass very effectively, and can sound really great in a lot of
different contexts. A couple things to consider:
- We only have 4 strings, so to get as many notes as a typical guitar sweep will involve some shifting and hammer-ons/pull-offs.
To get a smooth, sweeping sound, I don't pluck if I can hammer or pull off instead.
- Most of the sweeping I do (at this point) is triad arpeggios. It's totally possible to apply this technique to 7th chord arpeggios
or other patterns, but for now we'll stick with basic triads.
The first pattern we'll look at is in E minor. It starts with the root of the triad and goes up to the tenth and back down.

10

q=100-150
Em

12

10

The numbers below the top staff are left hand fingerings. I bar the B and the high E to keep it sounding smooth. All the slurs
marked are places where my right hand doesn't pluck. Once you work out the pattern, you can get this going up to the suggested
q=150, or even faster.
q=100-150
The next thing to do is take triads through all their inversions.


Em/B

10

10

14

Em

10

12

Em/G

14

12

16

12

14

14

14

19

17

16

21

16

17

19

You'll notice that all three patterns - root position, 1st inversion and 2nd inversion - all have the same basic skeletal structure:
2 notes on the A string, 1 note on the D string, and 2 different notes on the G string. (You can also move this pattern to the E, A
and D strings) This is key, because keeping that same skeleton allows you to use this idea to move through complex chord
progressions with smooth voice leading, keeping as many common tones as possible.
Reality Check: So far, this is pretty simple conceptually. However, you can extrapolate these ideas to an immense amount of material:
All four types of triads (major, minor, diminished, augmented), and all three inversions. You can do this in any key, and you can play
most of the patterns either starting on the A or the E string. You can also start at the top of the arpeggio instead of the bottom. A lot of
the fun of this technique is in the infinite possibilities!
Now that you've practiced moving through different inversions in one key, let's try some voice leading. We'll start with a circle
of fourths progression, which is typical in many genres, from jazz standards to neoclassical shredfests.

Copyright 2010 joshfossgreen.com

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D/A
G
C/G

q=150

Am

12

14

15

14 17 14

14

15

12 17

16

14 19 14

16

17

10 14

12

12 16 12

12

14

10 15

14

12 17 12

14

15

E
B/F# Em

F#

12

10

11 14

11

10

12

14

13

11 16 11

13

14

10

12

10

11

13

11

Here's a progression with root movement mostly in 3rds, using the same voice leading principles. Notice how smoothly these
chords fit together - only one note changes at a time from chord to chord (excluding the Gm/D to A/C# in bar 3-4).
q=100

Dm

Bb/D
Gm/D A/C#

10

10

10

12

10

Dm
Eb

Bb/D Gm/D

10

10

10

12

10

10

12

10

To finish off, here's an excerpt from my original composition "The Waltz." Here I use thumb technique instead of fingerstyle
for the sweeps. The thumb pattern is directly inspired by Victor Wooten's "Classical Thump" (adapted to the time signature).
Some advice from bassist Mark King of the band Level 42 on playing fast: "Start slow and get faster." Enjoy!
e=200

Dm/A

T H P1 P2 T H T P T H T P
H

12 17

Bb9

15

14 14 19 19 14

15

17

15

15

T T H P1 P2 H H T P T H T P
H
T H
H

14
12 17

15

14 14 19 19 14

15

17

15

Am

T T H P1 P2 H H T P T H T P
H
T H
H

14
12 15

14

14 14 17 17 14

14

15

14

T T H P1 P2 H H T P T H T P
H
T H
H

14
12 15

14

14 14 17 17 14

14

15

14

14

E/G# Am A

T T H P1 P2 H H T P T H T P T T H P1
H
T H
H

14 17

14 14 17 17 14

15

17

15

14
11 14

14

P2 T H T P T H T P
H

13 13 16 16 13

14

14

14

T T H P1 P2

13
12 15

14

H H T P T H T P T T H P1 P2 T H H T P T H T P
T

14 14 17 17 14

Copyright 2010 joshfossgreen.com

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12 16

14

14 14

18 18 14

14

16

14

14

Am

Dm/A

T T H P1 P2

12 17

15

H H T P T H T P
T

14 14 19 19 14

Bb9

TT

14 17

P1 P2 T H H T

15

15

14 14 17 17 14

17

15

T T H P1 P2 T H T P T H T P
H

14
12 17

15

14 14 19 19 14

E/B

15

H T

17

15

P TT

14
14 19

15

17

14

P1 P2 T H H T

18

15

T T H P1 P2

16 16 21 21 16

12 15

14

H H T P T H T P
T

14 14 17 17 14

Am

TT

18

H T

19

18

14

15

16
12 15

14

14
12 15

P1 P2 T H H T

14

T T H P1 P2

14 14 17 17 14

Notation legend:
T,T

Thumb downstroke (slap)

Thumb upstroke

P, P1

Index finger pluck

P2

Middle finger pluck

Left hand hammer-on

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Copyright 2010 joshfossgreen.com

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H H T P T H T P
T

14 14 17 17 14

14

H T

15

14

14

15

14

14 14
12

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