Hal Leonard

Ray Brown's Bass Method - Instructional Exercises Book

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Essential Scales, Patterns and Exercises

Legendary, prolific jazz bassist -- and teacher -- Ray Brown reveals his lessons and teaching philosophy in this book. Not really a "beginner's" book, it is a fairly intensive study on finger positions, scales, and chords, using the familiar exercise/etude format. All exercises are notated in standard notation (no tab) and are punctuated with helpful photos of left- and right-hand finger positions and other tips as appropriate.

This 135-page book includes solo exercises and arpeggios; music fundamentals; right- and left-hand positions; scales; chords; exercises in tenths; rhythm patterns with "drops"; diminished chords; runs and variations; blues patterns; extension scales; and much more. The exercises are presented in an easy to understand manner, and provide a full workout up and down the fingerboard.

Also included, a short bio and foreword by Leonard Feather. Lots of personal commentary from Ray Brown accompany many of the lessons.

Mark's Take:

In my humble opinion, it's not really a "true" method book. Where I would find it most useful is in combination with other learning materials; the exercises work all the intervals and arpeggios, which will enhance your physical abilities and dexterity - but learning all the exercises by rote won't make you Ray Brown. But, of course, that was never the point. Use this book to improve your mechanics and your interval knowledge, which will help you along on your quest for mastery.


This is a very solid technique book, particularly for experienced players with reading skills. Perhaps not ideal for the beginning bassist (at least not without the guidance of a teacher), it's probably better used as a "plateau beater" for an intermediate or advanced player. It's got lots of repetitive exercises to develop your technical and harmonic abilities. Ray purposely doesn't provide recommended fingerings for most exercises, making you experiment and work out for yourself how to best get around. There is also a collection of some sample blues lines that a developing player could easily add to his repertoire.

As always, we strongly recommend using learning materials in conjunction with a good teacher. But even for someone who prefers self-study, this is an excellent source of new inspiration and continuing education for someone who is already part-way down the road... it's a very complete collection of lessons and exercises from one of the all-time masters of jazz double bass.

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1 Review

  • 5

    Simple but effective from the master

    Posted by Matthew Rybicki on Feb 16th 2023

    Kudos to Hal Leonard for reprinting this after many years being out of print. These are exercises from Ray himself. While at first glance they may seem simple and maybe not much help, if you actually *do them* you'll find some challenging things that should expand your knowledge of the fingerboard if nothing else.

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