Jazz Blues Workout

April 6, 2010 Leave a comment

This is a classic Charlie Parkeresque blues.

There are many approaches to playing bass on this one. Doubling the melody is one, as in this example. You’re in unison with the sax or piano (depending on the instrumentation).

Check out what happens when we double the melody EXCEPT for a couple of strategically placed spots where we harmonise the melody in thirds.

Little “freshen ups” can do wonders for otherwise literal readings of a classic. Hey, I don’t want to rattle anyone’s cage, but, hey…Charlie Parker wrote this tune MANY decades ago,I love hearing fresh takes on it.

Categories: Jazz Bass Lessons

Advanced Slapping

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Try these and practice hard.

Categories: Slap Bass Lessons

Rocco Prestia 16th Notes

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment

After the classic Motown period, various players started to build on Jamerson’s inspiration. One of these 16th note pioneers was Rocco Prestia from the band Tower of Power. Rocco bridged the gap between Jamerson and Jaco. Find Tower of Power recordings and transcribe the bass lines. You will find it a challenge and great for your time. Here is a Rocco type line below.

Categories: Funk Bass Lessons

Tuning a Bass Guitar – Part 1 The Basics

April 4, 2010 1 comment

You have brought your shiny new bass guitar home and the first thing you should learn is how to tune it. Even if it was tuned perfectly before you left the music store, chances are it will be out of tune slightly by the time you get it home. Tuning will be affected by many things such as temperature, humidity and the chances are that sliding it in and out of the case or gig bag will disturb one or more of the tuning pegs.

Correct tuning is vital otherwise everything you try to play will sound awful and you will become discouraged quickly. Tuning a bass guitar is not difficult, but does require following a few simple steps. There are several tuning methods that can be used, but before discussing them, let us discuss the basics.

On a 4-string bass guitar the strings from thickest to thinnest are tuned to the notes E-A-D-G. Before tuning up hold your bass guitar locate the tuning peg that corresponds to the E string. Pluck the E string and turn the tuner approximately 1/4 turn in either direction while listening to the sound. Did the pitch of the string increase or decrease? Make a mental note which direction you will need to turn the tuner when tuning. If all of the tuning pegs are on the same side of the headstock, the direction the tuners need to be turned will be identical for all strings. However, if your bass guitar has tuning pegs located on both sides of the headstock, repeat the experiment with one of the tuning pegs on the other side of the headstock.

Regardless of the tuning method you are using to tune your instrument, if the bass note is too low turn the tuner slowly to increase the pitch until it is correct. Conversely, if the bass note is too high, turn the tuner to decrease the string pitch until the note is slightly too low, then turn the tuner in the opposite direction until the pitch is correct. Always tune up to the note rather than down as this method is more accurate and will help your bass guitar stay in tune longer.

The next post will discuss the different methods that can be used for tuning a bass guitar and the pros and cons of each method.

Categories: Miscellaneous

James Jamerson 16th Notes

March 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Take a look at this classic Jamerson type bass line. Notice the use of 16th notes over a standard rock/r&b groove. Learn to feel comfortable with the placement of 16th notes on and off the beat by playing this line and transcribing others like it.

You can find Jamerson lines on most of the famous Motown hits or in the great book “Standing in the Shadows of Mowtown”. The book is also a great tool for improving your sight reading.

Categories: Funk Bass Lessons

More Muted Slap And Pop

March 29, 2010 Leave a comment

This lesson will establish a pattern that we will use later. Let’s get comfortable with this first. Play the first note as an open E by slapping with your thumb. The second note will be a Left-Hand Slap across the strings, producing that muted clicking sound. The third note will be a “pop” or “pull” of the D string while your left hand remains (muting) the four strings. The fourth note will be an open E slap like the first note. Continue with this pattern to the second measure. The first note of this measure will now be the Left-Hand Slap (as beat 2 was in the first measure), the second note will now be the “Muted Pop” or “pull” of the D string, the third note will be the open E slap, and the fourth will be the Left-hand Muted Slap. The pattern to establish is Open string slap, Left-Hand Muted Slap, Muted Pop, Open string slap, LH Muted Slap, Muted Pop, Open Slap, LH Muted Slap, Muted Pop and so on. By playing this pattern we will se how the Open string Slap will move to a different downbeat within the measure creating the ever popular “Forward Motion” Technique. Play it slow and get familiar with the pattern using quarter notes. The next lesson will involve eighth note and we’ll see how the pattern starts to “cook”. Play it with a drimmer sometime, and see how the two of you start to groove.

Categories: Slap Bass Lessons

Right Hand Fingering

March 27, 2010 1 comment

Very often I’ve been asked what is the best exercise to improve speed? I’ve found that in 90% of the cases, the first thing to correct was the picking hand. Here is the basic idea that you will have to apply for your playing:

The fingers must be straight when they pull the strings, meaning that you should not bend the 1st or 2nd joint. It is better, for power and endurance purposes to use the larger muscles of the hand, rather than the smaller muscles of the fingers.


The numbers below the staff, represent the right hand fingers, number one being the index finger. You should rest on the pick-up, or if you have a 5 string bass, on the B string. This will help mute it. You have to pull on the string, don’t try to hit it. The more you pull, the louder it will play. Just pull, don’t pluck. For example, if you play the G string with your first finger, after pulling on the G string your finger should be resting on the D string.

Now if you play the G string again, you should use your 2nd finger. After playing, your 2nd finger will be resting on the D string and your 1st finger will be up in the air ready to play the G string again.

If you want to play the D string, you will then use your 2nd finger, which is already in position, resting on that string.




Play the E string with your 1st finger, then, the A with your second finger. Your 2nd finger will be now resting on the E string, leave it there while you play the D string with your 1st finger. Your 2nd finger will be ready now to play the next E. Proceed now to play the A with your 1st finger, it will be now resting on the E string, leave it there, and play the D with your 2nd finger. You are now ready to start from the top again…etc..




Categories: Fingering