Bass Lick of the Week #24

This exercise is a slap and pop groove written in the style of Level 42 bassist Mark King. As well as conventional slap technique, this line makes use of fretting hand slaps and double stop tenth chords.

The first bar of this exercise opens with two notes played together: an open E-string and the D at the seventh fret of the G-string. These two notes are plucked with the thumb and first finger, and the low E should ring whilst you repeatedly hammer-on and pull-off between the D and the E on the G-string. This figure is similar to a trill, but the number of repetitions is written: there should be six notes played here. The third beat of the first bar also has an interesting figure: here, four notes are played in rapid succession. This is done by popping the D on the G-string, slapping the G on the D-string, playing the E on the A-string using a fretting hand hammer-on, then slapping the open E-string. This is an unusual figure, but it’s very effective in this line.

In the second bar, the first two beats are a complex sequence of dead notes that are played using a combination of slaps, pops and fretting hand slaps. It’s important that you pay close attention to the slap guides here. The end of this bar features some double stop tenth intervals - a tenth is a major/minor third played over an octave above the root note. These notes can be allowed to briefly ring into one another as the chordal effect is not undesirable here.

The third and fourth bars are almost identical to the first two - the only difference is the double stop tenth chords in bar 4 - these are C and D rather than A and G.

I recorded this exercise using a Jaydee Supernatural bass, the same kind of bass that Mark King used during his early years with Level 42. An active instrument with a slight treble boost and a healthy dose of compression will get you close to the tone on this recording.

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