Bass Lick of the Week #35

This week’s line is a busy fingerstyle funk groove that makes use of many decorations such as hammer-ons, slides, and shakes.

After sliding into the E at the seventh fret of the A-string from the D two frets below, a melodic phrase is played on the upper two strings. The first three notes of this phrase (E-D-B) should be played as short as possible, whilst the last note (D), is decorated with a shake. A shake is similar to a trill, but has a little more ‘grease’ to it, making it perfect for funk lines. To perform a shake, fret the D and then rapidly slide the same finger back and forth between D and the D# a fret above. The difficult part of this phrase is moving from the shake back into the main line, or into the long fills in bars 2 and 4.

In bar 2 we play the first of the long bass fills. This line is based on the E blues scale (E-G-A-Bb-B-D), which is often used in funk lines. When playing this line it’s important that all slides and hammer-ons are played as written, as these are integral to the fluidity of the line.

In bar 4 we have the second fill. This begins in the same way as the earlier fill, only now an octave lower. Watch out for the tied low E from the end of the second beat into the third. Note that both of these fills make fairly extensive use of the flattened fifth from the blues scale (Bb), arguably the most colourful note.

This line was performed on a Fender Jazz bass, with the bridge pickup slightly favoured. I recommend that you do the same if you are using a two-pickup instrument, as this will add a little extra ‘bite’ to the tone.

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