Take this tab for example:

Bass tab for Can't Stop

How can I learn to jump from the B to the D, to the E, and back to the B as fast as possible?

  • 10
    You could just play the Bs on the seventh fret of the E string instead of on the A string. The tab could be wrong. Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 20:18
  • 5
    Yes, Todd’s right. However, you still have a good question here anyway. But you’d need to reword it and take that example out. Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 21:08
  • 1
    can we know what piece is it from?
    – Kaddath
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 12:37
  • @Kaddath its from can't stop by red hot chili peppers
    – Neins
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 14:10

4 Answers 4


Two things;

  • Turn the bass amp volume up a few notches. Make things louder. You need to hear what you are doing, and make the mistakes sonically, painfully clear. From there, the improvements will also become sublimely, joyfully clear as well.

  • Subtle palm-muting with your right hand will aid immeasurably the quick, dexterous practice motions of your left hand. When playing swiftly, don't let any strings ring on you.

All that, and repetition. Work it. Muscle memory. That's the best advice I can offer.

  • 1
    And neighbours' complaints will soar.
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 10:38
  • This much is very true, Tim. But it's only rock and roll, so they'll like it. Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 11:16
  • unless they are old, or have kids that they need to get to sleep. A local drummer is the bane of my life as s/he seems not to know that practice pads are a thing now. Turn it up, but with headphones Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 10:48

Assuming you play standing up and/or use some kind of strap, make sure your strap setup is working properly.

You should be able to remove your hands entirely from the instrument without experiencing the neck diving to the floor, or other movement. In other words, the instrument should be balanced so that your hands can focus on playing the instrument, and not on holding it in position. The advantages of this aren't only felt when doing jumps, but jumps are something that is helped.

This may sound obvious but my experience is that a lot of instrument/strap combinations are far from ideal in this regard.


One great skill that helps leaps - and all playing on bass is using all of the digits. Using a pick inevitably slows this sort of playing. You have (in this case) four strings, and five digits with which to play them. If the pinky gets left out of the equation, there are still enough for one per string, and with the hand positioned, one hovers over each string, simplifying the jump.

That said, I totally endorse Todd's thoughts that the tab is poorly written. There's absolutely no point in playing the lower notes on the A string. That only gives problems that are solved by moving that B note (and C in the 2nd bar) to the E string, putting the fretting on 7th fret. Nice surprise! It's the same fret as the G string 1st note!

So, r.h. is sorted, now l.h. A sort of barre would give both notes on fret 7, I'd use index, and pinky for the fret 9 notes. There's a mini problem that the lower note may ring out, so don't hold that barre down on the E tring - just lift the index tip, muting the note, and keep it ready for the next time it's needed - the end of that bar. Or, as a lot of EB players do, touch the E string with the thumb after playing.

Moral - don't ever trust tab - the notes may be right, but a lot is not written well. Search for alternatives!

  • 1
    I agree, 2 and 3 on the A string are poor choices. Sometimes leaps are required on bass but not in this case. As for not trusting tab, you’re also more likely to see poorly written rhythms like in the first bar. The quarter note 9th fret note should be two eighths tied together. Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 9:07
  • @JohnBelzaguy I also wonder if it's plain wrong, in addition to poorly written. The second bar has almost the same notes as the first, but not the syncopation. That can of course be a deliberate change, but I'd rather expect either both should be funky-syncopated or both straight-smooth. And if it's syncopated then at least the first high D should probably only be a quaver+rest (or staccato), not a crotchet. Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 9:21
  • 2
    I would be more moderate instead of saying "abolutely no point": the same note on different strings doesn't sound exactly the same, usually using a higher fret on a higher string will produce a duller sound. It may be allright for jazz/blues, but not really for rock/metal/funk as it will result in a less dynamic bass line
    – Kaddath
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 11:59
  • @leftaroundabout good points, I’d accept the second bar at face value since it looks good rhythmically. Articulations (or specific durations) are always good to include to convey a specific feel but in this case, what is it? Funky and fast? Legato and slow? We can only guess! Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 15:28

I’d like to add something to the good advice you have already received and offer some specific things you can practice. Some great exercises for learning to make positional shifts are practicing scales and patterns up and down on one string. Fingering depends on whether you are a 1 finger per fret (1-2-3-4) or upright style (1-2-4) player. As an example, take an A major scale on the G string. Dashes indicate a shift in hand position:

Frets: 2 4 6 7 9 11 13 14

Fingering (1 per fret) 1 3 - 1 2 4 - 1 3 4

Fingering (upright style) 1 4 - 2 4 - 1 4 - 2 4

You can do this on all strings as well as do other types of scales. Pentatonics are great too because they make you shift larger gaps since they have less notes. Knowing how to do this will also prepare you for shifting scale pattern positions more smoothly.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.