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What do you call a drummer in a three-piece suit?
"The Defendant"

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Author Topic: Rock and Blues Bass 101 (part 1)  (Read 1060 times)


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Rock and Blues Bass 101 (part 1)
« on: January 28, 2015, 12:24:59 PM »

I think maybe this will be a good idea for a YouTube lesson at some stage too. Here we go..

* Most rock bass revolves around four basic structures.

The four things:

It's easy to find intervals on a stringed instrument like the bass, as
the notes form repeating patterns all over the neck. In other words,
there's a general way of finding intervals that works for every
starting note, anywhere on the neck.
The first useful one for rock bass is the 5th. From your root note,
simply move up two frets and up to the next highest string.

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In the above diagram, a Bb is played on the first fret of the A string
and it's 5th, 'F', is played on the third fret of the D string.
It's also important to note that because we can use a lower string,
'E', we can play the 5th of Bb on the E string. (see the '*' below)

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Moving right along, you'll find that on the G string, directly across
from the 5th we just found, is the octave of the original Bb (see

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These notes are quite handy to use for variations in boring or
repetitititititititive bass lines. And using this knowledge, you can
quickly find notes on the fret board if need be!
Nearly all the riffs in Pink Floyds 'Time' use this pattern of notes, just in various orders.

The Minor Pentatonic scale. I'll leave it to you to find a reference
for this. Find one that has the tonic on the E and one with the tonic
on the A. Then, find a combined one and note how the spaces between
them may be connected.

As above, but for the Major scale. For one scale, you should
ultimately be able to play all over the neck. It's not as difficult as
it sounds, because you just remember the two main ones (root 5 and 6)
and then you naturally get to know the spaces between them. Slides
work particularly well with the root 5 pattern major scale. For
Play a tonic C on the A string with your index finger, then play a D,
two frets up with your ring finger, but as soon as you play the D,
slide your ring finger up two more frets to the E (fret seven). Then
play a G on the D string with your index finger before sliding back
down from E to D (on the A string again) with your ring finger, to
finish on C once again with your index finger. This is should sound
sort of like the lead break in Maggie May.

The old four semi-tone walk up/down, Mainly used for blues, but highly
adaptable to rock, this bass staple is probably the easiest of all to
utilise. It simply involves walking up the four frets that lead to the
note you wish to change to, in time for that change. For instance, in
a 12 bar blues, in G, the first change will be to the 4th (C). There
is a C on the A string (and I'm assuming you're playing a G on the E
string to start with). To get to that C, you simply walk up from A in
one fret increments. In a 4/4 blues shuffle type thing, you'd begin
your walk on beat 2 (A) then 3 (Bb), then 4 (B) just in time to hit
the C on '1' from the next bar. This trick is also handy if you want
to return to G in bar 7, but in a higher octave. Simply start your
'walk up' from the E on the D string on beat 2 of bar 6. You'll end up
on the higher G and it sounds cool! You can do these walks all day and
it'll sound like proper blues. Experiment with changing to higher and
lower octaves and try some walk downs too.

Some Points to Ponder:
- Bass is a rhythm instrument and in most cases, needs to sound like
it's part of the drum kit.

- Bass can have a strong influence over the 'groove' of a song, based
on when you actually 'pick up' the kick drum with the bass note.
(for example, hitting the front end of the kick beat will tend to
make the drums and the band sound held back or even sluggish)

I've made some drum tracks to play along with:
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