Bass Lick of the Week #33

This week’s exercise is a busy, semiquaver-based groove that makes use of the blues scale. It’s also played with the plectrum, and features some awkward string crossing.

In the first and third bars you’ll be playing an ascending line using the C blues scale. Because this part is played using a syncopated semiquaver rhythm, you’ll find yourself need to play several upstrokes in a row. This is because the notes are falling on the syncopated parts of the beat - the second and fourth semiquaver subdivisions. It’s important to stick to the recommended pick strokes since this will ensure that you begin each beat with a downstroke, which is the logical way to apply plectrum technique to grooves such as this. For more information on this technique, be sure to check out our book Plectrum Technique for Bass Guitar, which is available from this website.

In the second bar, a simpler line is played, just on the E-string. Note that ghost notes have been used here to reinforce the semiquaver pulse that forms the foundation of the groove. Be careful of the hammer-on phrases and remember that after each of these you will be playing with a downstroke again as the hammer-on note occupies the part of the beat that would be played with an upstroke.

In the fourth bar, a long, syncopated line is played on the E-string. This line is relatively straight-forward, although you’ll need to be careful of your picking strokes since many of the phrases begin on upbeats once again.

This line was recorded on a 1966 Fender Jazz bass using both pickups.

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