Foundation Exercises for Bass

by Chuck Sher

  • Are you a beginning bassist?
  • An amateur bass player looking to improve?
  • A bass teacher looking for a comprehensive and creative method book to teach with?

If so, Foundation Exercises for Bass by Chuck Sher, author of The Improvisor's Bass Method, is just what you've been looking for!

An instant classic, this book provides you with a complete overview of all the elements of music you will need to know to successfully play bass with others - regardless of the style of music you are interested in, or your current level of playing. Applies to acoustic or electric bass equally well.

While doing that, it will help you really enjoy the process of learning and practicing. How? By getting you to play things that sound like music to you, right from the beginning!

Divided into 33 easy-to-comprehend lessons, the book progresses from elementary to intermediate lessons on each topic, including:

  • Learning where the notes on the bass are and how to make them sound like music right away.
  • Learning how to hear bars of music and then how to count basic rhythms of quarter notes and eighth notes.
  • A painless way to learn to read music, starting with fingerboard diagrams.
  • Organizing the notes on the bass into major, minor and mixolydian scales, with a logical sequence of exercises on each, leading to the ability to create your own bass lines in each mode.
  • Learning correct hand positions, fingerings and how to shift between positions on the bass.
  • Basic ear training exercises designed to help you progressively discover your own musical voice on bass.
  • More rhythm lessons emphasizing improvising around the signposts of beats 1 and 3, and then learning to hear and play off of "target beats" so that every eighth note in a bar feels like home to you.
  • Learning where the arpeggio notes of major, minor and dominant 7th chords are on the bass, and fun ways to turn them into real music right away.
  • An elegant system of learning how to connect the roots of chord progressions using arpeggios, scale notes and chromatic notes, creating instant bass lines that will work in any style of music.
  • A system for learning and practicing "licks" in each of the main tonalities.
  • More rhythm studies starting with playing all the eighth notes in a bar and gradually eliminating more and more of them until you are easily playing highly syncopated lines.
  • Creative ways to practice various aspects of one tonality - including interval studies, scale chords, pentatonics, the blues scales, chromatic passing notes
  • Sample bass grooves in different styles of music, including the blues.
  • An overview of how harmony works in popular music so that the chords of tunes become comprehensible to you.
  • And much more! Spiral-bound, 87 pages. (For bass teachers, this is a gold mine of ready-to-use lessons for all your students.)


Chuck Sher has given us a thorough, comprehensive catalog of rudiments, presented in a way that makes working on them fun. It offers a clear and concise compendium of information we can apply directly to our work away from the practice room, on the bandstand. Congratulations on another fine piece of work!”
— Steve Swallow

Chuck Sher has already made a great contribution to the improvising musician with his instruction books and songbook anthologies. Foundation Exercises for Bass is another fine example of Chuck's ongoing commitment to music education. If you are a budding bassist who yearns to get in there and start making your own bass parts, this is a great head start. Everything you need to get started and continue through to intermediate levels is here for you. It's a well thought-out foundational approach, as well as a great help to conceptualize many overlooked aspects of playing, such as time and feel. A great book for the self-motivated beginning bassist, or as a unique method book for instructors who are looking for an organized and thoughtful interactive approach for their students. I highly recommend it.”
— Marc Johnson

Your new book is great for the beginning bassist in that it encapsulates the fundamentals of what is going to be expected of them as a bass player, but it also never loses sight of the harder to teach extra musical concepts that can often be overlooked. The technical side of bass playing is concisely chronicled in your book, but it is well-balanced by the more esoteric ideas concerning what makes music a living force. Thanks for this!”
— Larry Grenadier

A great tool with a wide range of material that covers an array of contemporary styles and great reading examples. This book gives a great foundation to anybody interested in mastering the Basics of the Bass.”
— Oscar Stagnaro

Chuck Sher's new Foundation Exercises for Bass offers students of any age and any level a musical way to learn all the fundamentals of bass playing. In just 87 pages, Chuck solves technical questions that would normally take years to understand. All with a positive and spirited discourse. A 'must have' for players and teachers of the electric or upright bass!”
— Pat Klobas

This book has all the information you need to learn bass correctly, presented with good analogies, perceptive comments and a sense of Taoism, too. I especially liked the concluding lessons - Chuck saved the best for last!”
— Chris Amberger

If you take the time, this book will open the doors to a new world for you, and will provide you with a great foundation for learning all the different elements of music. Thanks, Chuck-I needed that!”
— Bobby Vega

Chuck Sher started as a jazz musician in 1970 and founded Sher Music Co. in 1979 with "The Improvisor's Bass Method." This book received acclaim and paved the way for the '80s "The New Real Book," a legitimate alternative to the earlier illegal version. Sher's company later published hits like "The Jazz Piano Book" and "The Jazz Theory Book" by Mark Levine. With over 100 books in jazz and Latin music, and endorsements from artists like Chick Corea and Esperanza Spalding, Sher Music Co. stands as a top small music publisher. Sher's commitment to quality is rooted in his musician background, aiming to produce accurate and high-quality books.