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Lesson 3 – Double Thumbing with Alex Lofoco

A warm welcome to all Bass Musician Magazine readers. In this third lesson we will apply the ‘double thumbing’ technique to the pentatonic scale (please find also lesson 1 and 2) . We will also see several combinations and patterns of the scale involving different fingerings.

Being that the pentatonic scale is quite versatile, I find it very easy to include within grooves and solos. The majority of slap bass grooves and lines in funk music are mainly based around the pentatonic scale, so having a good vocabulary and few technique options certainly helps.

I developed the following patterns as a natural consequence of Thumb Down (T?), Thumb Up (T?) and Pluck (P) combination.

The following examples are based on a D minor pentatonic starting on the 5th fret of the A string. The fact that the pentatonic scale has a symmetrical shape, with one or one and ½ tones on each string (resulting in a two notes per string pattern), offers a number of available plucking combinations. For economy of motion, I would suggest using all available combinations to play any patterns and scales.

For instance, if I end up on a note with a T?, I will use a Pluck to play a note on the same string or next string, or a T? if I need to hit a lower string.

Fingering 1

In this line we have two notes per string, and an even Thumb Down, Thumb Up, Pluck, Pluck sequence is involved. While descending, only the Thumb Down-Up motion is involved from the last four notes which feature a T? T? on each string, as we need to skip strings every two notes.

-The movements involved are:


  • Thumb down, Thumb up on the A string.
  • Pluck, Pluck on the D string.
  • Thumb down, Thumb up on the G string.


  • Pluck, Pluck on the G string.
  • Thumb down, Thumb up on the D string.
  • Thumb down, Thumb up on the A string.

Fingering 2

This second fingering features a variation on the note F, which is fretted at the 3rd fret of the D string, resulting in a more open position and a different picking combination.

-The movements involved are then:


  • Thumb down on the A string.
  • Pluck, Thumb down, Thumb up on the D string.
  • Pluck, Pluck on the G string.


  • Thumb down, Thumb up on the G string.
  • Thumb down, Thumb up, Pluck on the D string.
  • Thumb down on the A string.

If we play each note of the pentatonic twice, we will have an even  Thumb down, Thumb up,  Pluck,  Pluck sequence, as shown below.

Note: Get comfortable with the motion of the whole hand and keep the tips of your fingers in line with your thumb in order to have them ready to pluck right after the thumb has come up with a T?.

Note Groupings

Playing the pentatonic scale in groups of three notes offers another interesting and versatile pattern. To get used to a different rhythmic pattern which involves a new Thumb down, Thumb up, Pluck combination, here are two different fingering, Ascending and Descending of a one octave D minor pentatonic scale.



This first line is with two note per string, while on the second line the F is shifted on the 3rd fret of the D string, resulting in a three note per string pattern.


I encourage you to work extensively on any combinations you may come up with. Do not stick to the patterns you already know, push it a bit further! Even just changing the left hand fingerings can suggest new combinations and licks. One way to practice could be the scale ascending with one fingering and descending with the other, or the other way around.

The line below shows the same three note groupings, but instead of a vertical shape, the triplets are spread horizontally on the fingerboard. This shape can be played with a consistent T? T? P sequence, and allows us to reach the upper register in case we want to develop our phrase in another direction.

For any questions, suggestions, or comments, you can contact me at I will be happy to answer your questions as soon as possible.

Enjoy a good practice, and I look forward to seeing you in the next issue.

Stay tuned


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