Bass Lick of the Week #47

This week’s exercise is a busy rock riff that should be played with a plectrum. This line was inspired by funk-metal band Extreme, who often use similar riffs as guitar/bass unison lines.

This line is built on the E minor pentatonic scale. In the first bar, you’ll initially play a descending lick moving from E, to D, to B, then to the open E-string. This opening line is used at the beginning of each bar. This is then followed by two ghost notes on the first half of beat two, and a G on the second half of the beat. This rhythmic figure is repeated on the third beat, but with an A instead of a G. On the fourth beat of the bar, the line ascends from A to B chromatically, including the A#/Bb, which briefly references the E blues scale.

The second bar is almost identical to the first, but features a different figure on the fourth beat. This time, we have a descending line moving Bb-A-G. Again, the addition of the Bb references the E blues scale, which is commonly used in riffs such as this.

In the fourth and final bar, a more complex line follows the opening motif. On beat two, a ghost note is played on the D-string, and is followed by a long, legato figure. Note that only the first note (A) is actually played by the picking hand - the remaining notes are performed using slides and a pull off. I recommend fretting the A with your fourth finger, then using this same finger to slide up to the Bb and back. You can then pull-off to the G, which can be fretted with the first finger. The final two beats of this bar feature a descending minor pentatonic lick that can be tough to play as you’ll be playing downstrokes on one string, then upstrokes on another. I recommend practicing this slowly, and following the picking guides written between the staves.

This line was recorded on a Fender Marcus Miller Signature bass, running through the Tech 21 dUg Pinnick preamp.

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