Awesome subdivision exercise (L#76)

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Click below to download the backing track for this lesson
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The bass guitar is as much a rhythmical instrument as it is a harmonic instrument. This is why we must view the study of rhythm itself as being of equal importance as the study of harmony (scales, chord tones etc).

Unfortunately this is often forgotten, and students spend 99% of their time working on harmonic exercises such as scales, arpeggios and such.

I’m sure you can relate to this feeling… ‘If I can learn just one more scale!’… ‘If I could only play that bit faster!’… this is what I call ‘chasing your tail’. You’ll always want to play faster, you’ll always want one more scale!

It is important to understand that rhythm and harmony are the pillars of all music. Therefore, when you study them separately, and then bring them together, your bass playing will sound infinitely more mature and… BAD ASS! ;)

Now grab your bass and get in the shed!

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  • Harry

    Great lesson. I’ve done it always on one note only, putting a scale (or arpeggios maybe?) on it seems a great idea. I always struggle at the moment I switch from triplets to 16th, but it is a fantastic exercise anyway.

    • scott

      Cheers Harry! Great to hear you enjoyed it! ;) Scott.

  • Uros

    great exercise Scott, very helpfull..keep on groovin! can’t wait for the suprise, cheers from Serbia!

  • Travis Moore

    Thanks for all the great lessons. They are really helping me improve my playing. I am going to work on this one right now :)

  • Jean Parfait

    Thanks Scott. Really enjoyed this simple but necessary lesson.

  • John

    Great stuff! Love your videos. Educational with great explanations.

  • george leite

    Awesome as always Scott. I have been trying to record my practicing so I can go back and see if I’m hearing what I think I’m playing. That leads to a request, I’d like to hear more about technology for bassist, like software we should try or apps. The other thing I’m struggling with when I record my practice is string noise. Even when I stay on the same four frets, I’m a noisy player.

    • John

      I agree George… great suggestion…another awesome lesson, btw Scott. Richly enjoy your stuff, bro. Thanks a million.

  • waldo

    this is the kind of instruction that really makes a difference in my bass playing. I can’t wait for the big “surprise”!

  • John Rivera

    Hey Scott. Your a God send. Your the best teacher out there. Thanks again. John

  • John Freeland

    I recently switched from a Yamaha electric with old strings to a new acoustic elactric (new strings). Lots of string noise. I think Jaco used chicken grease to slide with less noise. Scott is the first I’ve seen to wear gloves. I tried a cotton jersey glove and that seems to help reduce some of the string noise from my left (fretboard) hand.

  • Allen Portman

    George, I agree! Bass players (all artists) need to go back and listen to themselves after recordings or live gigs and critically critique themselves regarding their playing for timing (rhythmically), groove, dynamics, and context in the band and sonic spectrum. This has been one of the greatest wakeup calls for me, is when I go back and listen to myself! I preach often to musicians and artists I play with that unless stepping-up for a brief solo part “simple is more” and “less is better”!

    This video session is so simple, but yet focuses on probably the most overlooked fundamental criteria that separates the okay from the excellent class bass players of today! Majority of bass players simply play everything and never (or rarely) considered the context and their role in the music spectrum!

    Great video session!

  • Olegus

    Really great! Thank you, Scott!

    In your execution even simple C-dur sounds like MUSIC!
    This exercise is really helpful.

    I can add little thought, that counting in 5 of 8-th can be
    1-2-3 + 1-2 (=5)
    1-2 + 1-2-3 (=5).

    Scott Devine is Divine bass player and teacher!

  • Nacho

    Thank you very much !!!
    Greetings from Uruguay!!!

  • Martin d

    Amazing like always scott God bless,,

  • Al

    It’s always the simple-sounding tuff that seems to make the biggest difference for me. This lesson has really woken my fingers up – cheers Scott!

  • waleed

    Thanks Scott,God bless,,

  • Hugo

    John F above here says the gloves are to reduce noise. Is that right Scott? It sort of bothers me because it’s hard to see your fingering.

  • FidLew

    Hey Scott loved the lesson and all your work. While practicing the lesson i noticed, if I hit a “wrong note” it would effect my timing or the grove, so I start inserting “wrong notes”, to force myself to keep the “Grove” no matter what the notes.



  • Phil

    Hi Scott. Fantastic website, thanks so much for sharing your knowledge, it really is appreciated.

    I’m new to the bass and I love it. I want to improve but I am limited to about 1 to 2 hours of practice per day. I would like to put together a practice schedule so that I am getting the most out of the time available but I’m not too sure what to focus on.

    From what you are saying in the groove practice lesson above I guess that is essential to practice and perhaps the ones on scales and arpeggios. My left had is only just starting to feel happy spanning 4 frets so you can see I really am a novice. Any advice?

    Cheers Scott.

  • Barry Brien

    Good man yourself. Excited to see what this new thing is.

  • herbert lacina

    Again thanks…and ” here says the gloves are to reduce noise!”
    thats a quastion of me too:)

    Greetings from Vienna, Austria!

  • Jon Aiken

    Multi- instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter. Played bass years ago (not well). But always loved it. This was not only a great bass exercise, but applicable to everything else. I’m not quite up to 4,5,and 6 per measure, but the goal has been set.

  • Todd Zimmerman

    Another great lesson, timing is such a tricky element, as you not only have to get it right, but it has to feel right as well. This seems like a great way to work on both aspects at the same time. Thanks!

  • Alfred Ahlin

    Great lessons! Scotts Bass Lessons is the best way to keep up my bass guitar playing when i don’t have a teacher or other musicians to play with. Love from Sweden!

  • John

    Amazing lesson, as usual Scott. I love these type lessons. Foundational, enabling the bass player to build on a firm foundation is cornerstone to becoming a great, all-around bass player.

    By the way, how do you leave a post with a picture rather than the generic icon? just curious.

  • Brandy J

    This looks super fun! I’m goign to work on it tonight! Love the jazz track btw!! I forwarded it to my jazz guitarist boyfriend he thought it was pretty sweet!

  • Dane

    Great lesson. The 5 and 6 beats are tuff. I usually don’t play that way but it will be a blast if I can get it mastered to some level of proficiency.

  • Jack Keck

    If one wants to use a metronome for this exercise, how many beats per second should it be set at?

  • Georgeogh

    Scotte thanks for dis great lesson/
    Please can u do a lesson on slap technique exercises.
    Thanks ./////////////

  • Tino

    ;-) Gracias

  • wilson

    thanks master scott

    • 456sixstringbass

      i used to play tromebone for awhile when i was younger,and i thought my scale practicing was boring ,but i can hear it in you’re traing aids…………’s just the simple things that make the bass sound good,but when you rip it up on the bass,it’s still awesome…….thank you scott

  • Cheryl Muradas

    I can’t wait to do this lesson. I love your style and the way that you instruct. Thank you so much. .Cheryl

  • Rob

    Thanks for the great lesson Scott

  • Kenny

    You are taking my playing to new heights! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  • http://Home Ladrick

    Thanks Scott! you are a excellent teacher as well as a excellent player

  • Jordan B. Lombardo

    This is a sweet lesson.. I think the Cmaj chord in the background is gonna give me nightmares though… The more you listen to it, the scarier it becomes..
    I remember you had a lesson with similar content where you switched between 16th and triplets… It was crazy how it sounded together.. Nice videos. (:

  • Ged

    Given that my daughter’s name is Groove, I have to agree with you.
    Groove is everything!

  • GraemePyper

    Great bass lessons’ I’ve switched from drums to bass easier to carry Thanks again from Australia. Graeme

  • Nate

    It’s worse playing the “right”note at the wrong time than playing the “wrong ” note at the right time.My right hand is rhythm and my left hand is harmony. My right hand is more important.

  • hlinton

    I know how to count sub-divisions for whole, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, & 1/16 but not for 5 or 6 notes/beat. Is there a “proper” way to count them and, if so, what are they? Also, it would be great to learn to properly count & play quarter note triplets. Thanks.

    • scott

      Hey Howard I’m not sure there is a ‘standardized’ way of counting odd subdivisions like this. I use syllables such as university = 5 and chillidog = 4 etc etc. Hope that helps. Scott ;)

  • ScotV

    Wow! I slowed the track to 1/2 speed, and that REALLY makes it difficult. Especially the triplets and quintlets (is that a word?) But once you get that groove at 1/2 speed, it’s really sweet. Especially when I play in Lydian.

  • Bob Skavna

    Hi Scott and Hlinton

    that’s exactly how I learned to play odd time stuff! When I had been playing about 2 years (and didn’t read music or know a semiquaver from a hole in the wall) I started playing in a band with a great drummer who would write all these crazy fusion-y rhythms and the only way I could get my head around it was to sing the phrases to myself like the way Scott said: find words with the same amount of syllables as the beat groupings. It worked surprisingly well! It seems like an simple version of that Carnatic counting thing that a lot of fusion players use, which looks pretty good for counting odd (as well as even) subdivisions. Recently found this video where Jonas Hellborg talks about it a bit

  • brandonvmoore

    I’m pretty sure this was part of the very first jazz guitar lesson I ever took. Every musician should do this no matter what instrument.

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