Bass Lick of the Week #26

This exercise is a funk groove that sounds great when played with a muted plectrum technique.

Before playing this exercise, it’s worth reminding yourself of the correct application of the plectrum technique, particularly with regard to playing semiquavers. A group of four semiquavers (one beat), should be played with a down-up-down-up picking sequence. Sticking to this will ensure that you always land on the downbeat with a downstroke, which is the most logical way to play. Whether a beat involves rests or not, it’s important to stick to these picking strokes on the relevant subdivisions of the beat.

The first note of the exercise falls just before the first beat of the first bar. As this note is in the fourth semiquaver subdivision of beat four of the count-in, it should be played with an upstrokes - down-up-down-UP. This note then hammers-onto the A at the twelfth fret of the A-string. This is the first beat of the first bar - ordinarily, this note would be played with a downstroke, but in this case, it is played as a hammer-on. The higher octave A that follows falls on the second subdivision and so is played with an upstroke. Starting a phrase with an upstroke can feel unusual to begin with, so I recommend playing a ‘silent downstroke’ before the upstroke - you will very likely do this naturally.

This line sounds great if you can mute the strings slightly. This is typically done by lightly resting the edge of the palm against the strings down by the bridge. As everyone’s hands are different, you will need to experiment with the position and amount of pressure you apply.

For more information on using a pick effectively, be sure to check out Plectrum Technique for Bass Guitar, available from this website.

I recorded this line using my Zon Sonus 4-string bass, recorded through an EBS Reidmar 500 amplifier. A little compression was applied digitally after recording.

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