Bass Lick of the Week #22

This exercise is a slow-tempo fingerstyle funk groove that recalls the playing of the legendary Jaco Pastorius. This challenging line requires precise timing and smooth technique with regard to string crossing.

When playing the first bar of this exercise, I recommend fretting the F at the third fret of the D-string with your fourth finger, and using the first to fret the Ab at the first fret of the G-string. After returning to the F at the beginning of beat two, some ghost notes are played. These should be performed by lifting the fretting fingers off of the note slightly - this will mute the string, resulting in a dead note when you pluck. The hammer-on from the second beat into the third is an important part of the line: not only does it give your picking hand a break, it also pushes the groove along. Note that in the third and fourth beats of the first bar, open string D’s have been deliberately used in place of fretted D’s. Doing so requires more control when crossing strings, which is one of the skills that you’ll develop through working on this exercise.

The second bar begins in the same way as the first, but ends with an ascending line up to the fifth of the underlying F7 chord - C. In the final bar of the sequence, double chromatic approach notes are used to move to the root note (F) and fifth (C).

This exercise was originally written in the key of E, but was transposed to F to make for a more challenging study piece. When learning anything, be it a groove, melody or lick, it’s a great idea to cycle it through different keys for added value.

This line - like all fingerstyle funk grooves - should be played using the bridge pickup (if you have a dual pickup instrument) and with a boost to the mid-range frequencies. It also helps to play with your picking hand close to the bridge, where the strings are tighter.

To download the backing track and PDF worksheet for this exercise, please visit the Free Stuff section of the website.